A mental health checklist for business owners
Owning and operating a business can be a rewarding experience, however, it can also involve long hours, stress, unreliable cash flow, and multiple competing priorities, which can impact your health and well-being.
Small business owners need to create a mentally and physically healthy work environment. Encouraging staff wellbeing and ensuring your own mental health and wellbeing is being looked after. Having a mental health checklist is important for the success of you and your small business, your staff, suppliers, customers, and your own family.
Mental health is all about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and whether you look at life in a positive or negative way. When was the last time you checked your mental health checklist? Your current mental health will play an important part in your ability to make it through day-to-day tasks productively, with focus, and to your full potential.
Not taking care of our mental health can also lead to other serious health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and other cardiovascular conditions. There are many things that can contribute to poor mental health in the workplace, having a mental health checklist can help you watch out for the various signs. Anxiety, overwork and burnout can affect everyone and could negatively affect the way we operate in both our professional and personal lives.
Having an open mental health checklist will also help your team recognise any signs they could benefit from some extra support. Not looking out for the signs of mental health stress can potentially result in absenteeism, low productivity, which can increase the workload on the rest of the staff. Stress and anxiety can also lead to making mistakes, toxic work culture, and an increase in staff turnover.
Some occupations and industries can experience a baseline of high stress. And in turn, a stressful workplace can affect mental health. Stress is an adverse reaction we have in response to the pressure of the work environment.
Our relationships with our employers and employees, our family, and our friends can impact our mental health. The current pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses and our normal ways of coping, such as visiting family and friends, were interrupted. Not to mention job security concerns, and high demand for an increased workload. Especially as some businesses had to let go of staff to survive the lockdowns.
Business owners themselves do not get a lot of time off and when they do, they can hardly properly switch off mentally. Many Café owners roster themselves to have one day per weekday off. A mental health checklist will not only help you look out for the signs but will also help you to prioritise your own mental health. So when you do have time to switch off and relax away from the Café you actually take the time. A business owner will most likely also receive some calls throughout the day from employees who are unsure of certain processes and need to ask questions.
Signs to look out for
Sometimes it is hard to notice when you are overworked. Business owners may get stuck into a routine of overworking themselves and not see this as being out of the ordinary. Common signs to include on your mental health checklist and to look for are:
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling down most of the time
- Mental fog
- Decreased productivity
How to positively impact your mental health?
Improve work-life balance
It is important for business owners to recognise and prioritise the life that exists outside of work. For many owners their way to get ahead is to work longer hours or push their team members to work longer hours. Because small business owners juggle multiple tasks, they rarely get the chance to mentally switch off. That’s why it is important if given the opportunity to shut the business once per year for a given period of time.
Many businesses, depending on the industry, shut for a couple of weeks over the Christmas/New Year holidays. Having the business completely shut gives business owners the ability to unwind mentally and not have to think about the business on their days off.
It also helps loyal employees feel better about taking some time off as well.
Building flexibility into the business can also help employees take better care of their health. Allowing staff to have that flexibility in the hours they work would allow them to take care of their kids, and exercise during the day. Research shows that having a flexible workplace is one of the most desired components for job hunters.
Look after your physical health
An increase in healthy lifestyle choices has proven increases in positive mental health and mood. Exercise, which is a proven natural de-stressor also reduces anxiety, depression and negative mood. It can also increase self-esteem and cognitive function. Especially when exercise is done as part of the morning routine, it can set the tone for a positively productive day with reduced stress. This could be as little as going for a 30-minute walk each day.
Relax your mind
Meditation can also help form part of a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that finding even just 5 minutes per day to clear your mind through meditation can increase positive mental outlook by up to 50%. Meditation or simply breathing deeply will have a good impact on any irritability and improving relationships.
Build relationships with those around you
Good relationships with employers and colleagues assist with a more positive outlook on life and work. Having a strong support system will also help when life becomes challenging.
Seek help when needed
Thankfully there are a lot of support services available for small business owners, here are some of the services that are available to help cope with stress and uncertainty. These resources could also be beneficial to provide to your staff to help them through any challenging times.
Be sure to include these services on your mental health checklist:
- Beyond Blue
- Mental Health at work powered by the NSW Government
- Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
- Mensline – 1300 789 978
- Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800