It is World Mental Health Day. This wasn’t a planned blog, but as I was writing a Facebook post on the subject, it became too long to just be a post for social media.
We don’t have a world physical health day, which shows the still growing need for mental health awareness.
Are more people talking about it? Yes.
But is there still a stigma about it? Yes
If you run your own business, it may be scary to talk about your own mental health as well as running a business. However, many people I have met who own their business have experienced a mental health illness, which has created challenges, but also life lessons along the way.
Mental health is often not discussed just in case; and the only reason that sprung to mind was to not let people think you haven’t got your s**t together, especially when it comes to owning a business. And that is definitely not the case.
In my own experience, I have felt myself not talking about my own mental health issues for that exact reason: just in case people don’t think you can have anxiety and achieve things in life.
Sometimes being self employed can may make you feel worse, especially when you are in control of your earnings and business. My experience of anxiety has sometimes been triggered from business worry. But, deep down, I know that I would never be a very good employee again so on the flip side being employed could have the same response.
But guess what, you can have a mental health illness AND still run a business. It is often hard and you may want to curl up on the sofa, binge watch a box set and avoid everything. Here are my seven things that have really helped me manage being both self-employed and my anxiety.
Sometimes the feelings of anxiety are actually your excitement and get up and go.
If you get the heart racing feeling, this may not always be anxiety. You may mix it up with the spark and excitement about what you do for your job.
Take some time to listen to what is going on and it may just be your body getting things confused. Spend a few minutes with some deep slow breathing and see if things begin to change.
You can only avoid things for so long
Avoidance is your FREEZE from the flight, fright and freeze stress response. This can sometimes make things worse. If you avoid things a lot, can you identify why? What is the smallest step you can make to start to address the thing you are avoiding?
Writing things down
Journalling is a great way to help put thoughts into perspective.
You don’t have to journal everyday, but use it to help you work out a problem within your work. It’s like when you talk to someone.
If you have a decision to make, write down the opportunities and challenges. Write down things you are grateful for. Write down your achievements of the day.
Get a Massage
You may think this is a biased response as I am a massage therapist, but there is actual science behind this.
Massage can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. If massage isn’t for you, what about reflexology, or another holistic therapy to help you relax.
Create a business plan that works (but don’t plan every tiny detail)
When you don’t have a plan, your business can often go off on a tangent.
Spend some with a plan, do it and then you can review it as you go along.
If you are a serial planner, ease off the plan a little bit and just plan enough to get you doing the work and review it as you go a long. (I realise this may not be a business coach’s advice, this is my own personal experience).
Think about learning opportunities
When things don’t go as well as you had expected, see them as opportunities and not failures. Mistakes are great opportunities to learn and do something different. Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed is a great book on this.
Move more – preferably outside
The more time you spend outside with nature the better. Take a walking meeting, reflect on work in a park. Get on your bike and cycle for 30 minutes.
You can find out more about the benefits of being outdoors here.