Are you sitting comfortably? Today I want to talk about how looking after your wellbeing can help you become more resilient.
Running a business is very rewarding, but it’s also one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. Rather than having a good work/life balance, you might find that you’re stuck working longer hours, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and missing out on time with your family and friends. Not quite what you signed up for, is it?
As well as potentially causing a lot of stress, work pressures can also affect your physical health and wellbeing. You miss out on going to the gym because you’re so busy, and you grab lunch and snacks on the go that maybe aren’t the healthiest of choices. Not only that, stress, late nights, and early mornings are causing you to miss out on sleep, and you feel like you can never have a day off. Does this sound familiar?
If you don’t look after your wellbeing, you will be less resilient to stress and challenges, whereas if you’re physically well and mentally well, and rested, you’ll be in a much better position to deal with the challenges of running a business.
So what are the best ways to improve your wellbeing and build resilience? Well a good place to start is to look at the way you live your life. Sometimes all it takes is a few positive changes to make you feel more able to cope with day to day pressures.
The first thing you can do is practice saying ‘No.’ Running a business, maintaining a family life, and looking after yourself can be very challenging, and you have to learn to be firm with people who are making unfair demands on your time, or adding tasks to your already hefty workload. Even if it is family and friends. You have your priorities, just as they do, so be assertive and tell them you just don’t have the time to take anything else on at the moment. There’s no need to justify yourself, that’s just the way it is.
Having said that, it’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re a business owner, and it’s tempting to use work as an excuse for turning down every chance to meet up with friends and family. Make sure you set aside time to spend with people who are important to you, as chatting can cheer you up, and talking to them about whatever you’re finding difficult can lighten your load a little.
So it’s good to be social, and another way of doing this is taking up a hobby or exploring your interests. It’s a good way to meet people and it lets you explore a different side of you than just ‘the business owner.’ Doing something fun and engaging can also take your mind off anything that’s stressing you out.
Speaking of taking your mind off things, it’s important that you find a way to relax, whether it’s going for a walk, meditating, or listening to music. If your mind is always working overtime, it’s important to give it the chance to switch off.
Another thing that’s important when you want to be more resilient is looking after your physical health. The first thing to think about is whether you’re getting enough sleep. When you’re stressed out, it’s common to feel ‘wired’ which makes it hard for you to sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s harder to deal with stressful situations. Create a bedtime routine to make you feel relaxed at night. Having a bath, reading a book in dim light, avoiding caffeine, and banning laptops, phones, and tablets from the bedroom is a good start!
Next, think about being more active. Exercising regularly great for your physical health and for your mind. It lifts the mood and reduces stress. Even as I speak, I can hear you saying “But I’m too busy for exercise!” and while it’s true that it tends not to be high on the list of our priorities when we’re busy, you can fit exercise into your lifestyle more easily than you think. Get up and walk the dog in the morning, go out for a brisk walk at lunch, even if it’s 10 minutes, or you could even consider setting up a walking group with some of your employees so everyone benefits. Every little helps.
Just as important as exercise, if not more so, is eating well. If you often mindlessly eat a sandwich at your desk or reach for sugary snacks when you’re stressed-stop! What you eat can really affect how you feel, and lots of fat and sugar can drain your energy and leave you feeling less resilient to stress. Take a healthy lunch to work that includes plenty of protein to keep your blood sugar stable, keep healthy snacks in your desk drawer, and drink water throughout the day.
Next, think about taking a break. Where many business owners fall down is that they believe that their business can’t run without them so they can’t take a day or a week off. I’m sure when you started working for yourself that working 24/7 wasn’t your dream. Doing everything yourself, all of the time isn’t sustainable, so build your resilience and restore some balance by delegating tasks, taking breaks, and taking annual leave without worrying that everything you’ve worked for is going to come crashing down.
Finally, I would like to talk about the importance of having a support network. You’re not an island, and although you may feel you possess some superhuman qualities (you are a business owner, after all!), you don’t have to cope with stress alone.
Speak to close friends and family about whatever is bothering you. Sometimes just talking to someone else can relieve some of the burden, and they might be able to offer you another perspective on your problems too.
You can also try talking to fellow business owners, or a mentor (if you have one) about how you’re feeling. They’re likely to have been in the same boat, and they might be able to share some useful insights into how they overcome a particular problem.
And if stress is really getting you down, and it’s affecting your life considerably, think about speaking to your GP who will be able to help you access some extra support.
Are YOU ready to stop merely surviving and start thriving? Contact me at email@example.com for support and help.