Small business guide to managing mental health and money worries

Small business guide to managing mental health and money worries

7 out of 10 businesses say financial worries are impacting their mental health according to research conducted by free PR site Newspage and ShopAppy. After two years of challenges, it feels very unfair to now be facing higher inflation, mounting energy bills and increasingly financially squeezed customers. We know local independent businesses are a resilient bunch, but now remember to look after yourselves. A healthy business requires a healthy business owner, so it’s time to take care of your mental health. Your business, your customers, your friends, your family and more importantly your mind and body will thank you for it. Here is our guide with some useful resources from experts in mental health and wellbeing to get you through...

1. Focus on what you can control

Hiding away from worries, does not reduce them and feeling like things are beyond (and out of) control can cause significant stress. Not least because business owners like to feel in control. Whilst global supply chains and energy costs are external forces, there are things you can do, to put yourself back in the driving seat. Writing down your worries can help because facing fears means you can deal with them. If you are worried about your finances, draw up a budget and consider what you need to cut back on or how you could better manage your budget – this planner might help. If you are paying too much on importing goods, look at alternatives and see what other suppliers you could use. If your customer base is diminishing, consider other customer types you could approach that may be less impacted by financial worries. If your rent is too high, speak to your landlord, speak to your local authorities and see what help there may be out there.  On that note, time to turn to the Dalai Lama XIV who said “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

2. Size up a side hustle

If your core business is struggling, then it is time to kick in some entrepreneurial spirit, that spirit that got you started in the first place. Necessity is the mother of creativity, and in difficult times, incredible ideas can emerge. More people than ever have a side hustle – perhaps they work in an office but in the evening, they make and sell clothing. As a business owner, you can have a side hustle too. If you have a space that sells gifts, could you run craft sessions or offer giftwrapping services? Could you do classes or host events? Have you become great at photography, and can offer to provide services to fellow businesses? Side hustles could include blog writing, dog walking, event planning, childcare – you name it. The best business owners never stop learning and trying, and now more than ever could be the time where it will be worthwhile to add a new string to your bow (or your shop).

3. Seek help and talk to others

A worry shared is a worry halved. A friend or a loyal customer can lend you an ear and may be able to help. In addition there are organisations that can help you too. If you are very stressed and worried, it is good to talk. Sometimes just to be heard or because you need advice. Citizen’s Advice can help you or you can turn to local authorities for help if you are facing debt or other issues -link here. If you are feeling very low you can also refer yourself directly to mental health and psychotherapy services. Here is a useful list of helplines. If life is becoming very difficult or if you feel it is not worth living. Either see a GP or contact a helpline such as Samaritans (call free on 116 123) for confidential, non-judgemental emotional support. Always know there is someone who will listen and someone who can help.

4. Get active

Stress takes a toll on your physical health, and the more you are inactive, the worse that can get. Try to go for a walk, get some fresh air, attend an exercise class. Getting active, will help you mentally as well as physically. When you are active, you are also more likely to feel more motivated afterwards, happier and may even come up with some ideas and plans. When you are stressed and upset, the thing that you least want to do, is what you really need to do. Plan it in your day, and soon what feels like a chore, will become a treat for mind, body and soul. Plus it will remind you that you are more than your business, that you have other interests and parts of your life to enjoy.

Remember if you have not exercised for some time, or have any medical conditions, always consult your GP before starting new exercise routines.

Stack of bills Stack of bills

5. Avoid bad habits

When things get tough, it is easy to fall into bad habits. You might reach for another beer, a wine. You might go and grab a cigarette or increase your sugar intake with sweets and treats or you might stay up late. Whilst that gives temporary respite, it can make things worse long term. If alcohol intake is increasing then check out this guide to reducing alcohol intake – if you have increased smoking, try to give up, if you want to stop comfort eating, replace the sweets and treats with healthier options and then cut down… and if you are going to bed later and suffering from insomnia, there is help right here. Bad habits help you escape from the worries for an hour, a day or an evening, but will make the worries feel so much worse, the next day and the day after. Eating healthy, drinking water/soft drinks (rather than alcohol) and sleeping well, makes you more able to cope, keeps your mind clear and ensures you are fit enough to face and overcome the challenges.  

A final note on your mental health

We know that it is tough. Sometimes we all need a reminder that we are not alone. At we hear from communities every day who so appreciate the small local businesses on their high streets and in their markets. As a team we are inspired by independent businesses every single day. But being an independent business does not mean you have to be alone. In fact the best businesses we know, collaborate and work together. The team can help, but so can your communities and customers and so can your local authorities, health providers and advice organisations. So if you are among the 70% of businesses struggling right now  –use our guide, reach out and help will be there.

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