Making mental health a priority

“There aren’t enough hours in the day.”     “Do more with less.”

A couple of phrases said by small business owners around the country on a daily basis. While there’s always something else that needs to be done, mental health can often be pushed aside as not important – but at what cost? Anxiety and depression can lead to loss of productivity and potential damage to colleagues, friends and family as well as leading to further health issues as it continues to mount. Below are our five ways to help improve your mental health.

1) Prioritise physical health

Studies have shown there is a distinct link between mental and physical health so it makes sense to prioritise both. After just 8 weeks those same studies show a significant reduction in depression symptoms so it stands to reason a focus on exercise will lead to mental health benefits as well.

Inside a small business, thinking about adding in something extra can seem daunting but here are some easy ways to fit it in:

  • Find a hobby you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like exercise
  • Walk to work or take the stairs
  • Start with just 10 minutes a day and increase it gradually
  • Find a routine you can do at your desk – Bodyweight exercises are a great start
  • Get a fitness tracker – It can be a lot of fun trying to beat your previous steps record or stairs climbed
  • Block out your calendar – This can be a good trick with anything you’re trying to prioritise but blocking out some time each day makes it easier to stick to

2) Get your sleep

It’s not hard to understand how this one can help any of us. If you’ve ever woken up from a terrible night’s sleep and wondered how you’d get through the day you’ll understand, but how do you ensure you get a good night sleep?

There’s a good chance you may not be getting quality sleep so it’s good to start there. Remove distractions from your bedroom before you head to bed so your brain isn’t working overtime. Often, your brain will be going a million miles an hour processing everything from the day and thinking about the next but writing it all down can free up your mind. You’ll also know it’ll be done because you won’t forget it now.

Science shows it’s easier to sleep in a colder room but running your air conditioner all night might not be economical or good for the environment. Oftentimes a fan can be an option or investing in a cooling pillow or cooling mattress.

Remember step 1? It turns out exercise also helps us sleep better too so there’s a reason it makes the top of our list.

3) Reduce the amount of decisions you make each day

There’s a reason people like Steve Jobs wore the same thing every day. They believed that having to decide what to wear each day used up some of the brain function for the day that they wanted to use focussing on their business. We’re not suggesting you go out and purchase a cupboard full of jeans and turtleneck jumpers but the premise is a good one. It turns out it even has a name: decision fatigue. If this sounds like you can relate it might be time to work on this.

The night before work it can be a good idea to prepare your lunch for the next day, get your clothes ready and organise your to-do list in advance. That way when you wake up you’re already set for a positive day and you can avoid burnout by focussing on what really matter.

4) Meditate

Meditation has often had a negative stigma attached that’s made it difficult to cut through to the general population. Smartphone apps like Headspace have been a remarkable resource to get similar benefits and help clear the mind.

These types of apps and programs have proven effective in those suffering stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cancer, and chronic pain.

5) Don’t take your work home

This is obviously difficult for those that work from home and the heading for this particular tip was slightly tongue in cheek for that reason however it’s not impossible. Setting aside an area for your business and leaving the rest of the house free of work is a great way to allow you to pay full attention to family and get the downtime you need for a healthy work-life balance.

It can be tough to prioritise our mental health but the benefits are clear. Make it a focus today to see improvements in your mood, relationships and business.

Leave a Reply