10 Business Leaders Reveal Their Advice For Maintaining Mental Health and Wellbeing
By Josh Quarmby on 13 May 2019
Running a business can be hugely rewarding. It can also be very tough at times.
Long hours, feelings of isolation and the sense of responsibility to family, friends, and employees are just some of the typical stressors to life in business.
We’ve asked 10 business leaders;
What strategies do you have in place to maintain your own mental health and wellbeing while running a business?
I enjoy my business but try never to let it get in the way of the more important things. I have a wonderful wife whom I love dearly and spend substantial time each day with my kids. I’m active in my church and run a men’s bible study. I take time for a half hour’s vigorous exercise a day and get outside whenever I can. My life has a mission, not only as a husband and father but to help and protect my Franchisees. We are intensely concerned about the mental health of our people and doing everything possible to support them. This includes funding and directing an ongoing research project into the root causes of mental illness.
Maintaining my personal wellbeing is an absolute must in running a productive business; the reason being is that you can’t give away what you don’t have. We all know that personal performance and team collaboration are all massively impacted by health and lifestyle (this is science). If a leader of a business wants staff to take on these behaviours they need to personally exhibit them as well. For me it’s having personal routines that are done every day as any success I’ve ever experienced has been achieved this way.
– A decision upon waking that today is going to be a good day. – Ask myself “how do I feel” create self-awareness around my personal state so adaptations can be made if needed. – Exercise at 5.30am – Meditate – Learn something new about your staff every day – Listen first – Make decisions and lead from my best-self – Look for opportunities not threat – Read or listen to a podcast that allows new learning for at least 30min a day. – Have fun whenever possible – Spend time with good people every day
Running a business can be a rollercoaster of reward and exhaustion, success and failure all the while having to keep your game face on. Some of the activities I use to support myself through difficult times are walking in the fresh air, hot yoga, cooking, spending time with family and friends, swimming, and most weekends you will find me dancing and singing around my apartment. There is nothing like belting out some Whitney or George Michael to push away depression and anxiety!!
It can be very difficult running your own business, especially early on. Huge things people forget is that just because you are very talented in the job you have doesn’t make you a good business owner. For me as a carpenter, to just drop tools and start a workwear social enterprise company with my best mate was not only exciting but also bloody frightening. Firstly the only thing we knew about shirts is that you wore them and neither of us had ever run a business before.
12 months in and we have learned some big lessons. Mainly that you have both good and bad days. Having your own business isn’t what its all cracked up to be at times. You need to maintain a strong work ethic, keep yourself accountable and also ensure you are monitoring cash flow so you can keep food on the table every week.
The strategies I use are mainly; talking it out in my head, writing down priorities and working to a set schedule. If I don’t have my routine in place, I can become easily distracted and can lose focus, from there it’s a spiral where I am both annoyed at myself and what is going on around me. My other tip is seeking out information from people I admire or look up to. I listen to a lot of podcasts and quickly understand that my situation is nothing compared to what someone else has or is going through and that whatever my problem is at any one time can be fixed. Maintaining a positive mindset is key.
I employ the same strategy to stay mentally and physically fit “in life” not just in business.
I exercise every day for 40 mins – even if it’s a walk around the neighbourhood. I eat healthy foods and don’t drink too much alcohol.
I keep my mind clear by focusing on the big issues that make a difference rather than sweating the small stuff or getting distracted by minutia.
Always stay in “present time” and deal with challenges using LST (Logical, Sequential, Tactical) Do the right things in the right order at the right time.
Surround yourself with people. I had to get my wife in the business as I found it pretty lonely, especially after my last office was a change room of 30-50 blokes. Surround and network with other business owners who are likeminded (hopefully that means ambitious and determined) so you can share your obstacles and challenges. They will offer solutions and perspective, as they will be going through similar issues, or will have done so.
You need to be open and honest with the challenges of your business. Who do you have around you that you feel comfortable enough or trust enough to share these with? If you don’t have anyone, go and find them, but you MUST be open and honest.
Identify what is causing you frustration. Is it knowing how to read your numbers, not finding enough work, just simply being lonely? Once you identify the frustrations, you can then find the solutions. For me being lonely and often in an office by myself meant that rugby training on a Tuesday and Thursday night was a blessing as I needed that contact and to be around the boys.
The best quote I’ve heard in relation to this is; ‘Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them’ – Allen Shawn
This is saying that there is a price to pay for everything, and working 24/7 to grow a business is one of the hardest things you can do – it takes its toll in other parts of your life.
Being a CEO is isolating and it can be a lonely job. For me, the recipe for good mental health is;
– Exercise. A non-negotiable. – Sleep – Keep an eye on alcohol intake – Diet
I find if I’m focused on the above I’m well balanced to tackle problems at home and work.
Running a business is a rewarding experience however the rewards don’t start appearing for a good 4-5 years, in a lot of cases longer.
It is very wise to sit down before starting a business and really count the cost, not just financially, but emotionally too. There are days or weeks, even months where there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You come home from work and you don’t have the energy to share how your day was with your partner, let alone give undivided attention to the kids. I’ve learned to view these periods of the business cycle as seasons, just like winter, summer, spring, and autumn. The season will change and it does get easier. However your support network and family won’t know that unless you communicate that with them.
So blokes, take a 10mins or a day off to really communicate with the ones you love. Let them share your hardships because they will definitely be sharing the rewards in the long run.
In short, STOP and SHARE.
Having clearly defined roles in your business is a very good place to start. Sometimes starting a business can seem overwhelming, but knowing exactly what your role is and what you need to be getting done is key. Setting out clear daily objectives and ticking off one thing at a time is a good way to manage workload whilst also keeping things nice and manageable. Finally, setting clear boundaries between work and home life is key. You have to be able to switch off and give your mind the opportunity to be clear and recharge to put yourself in the best position to go again tomorrow.
I am forever learning and personally working on myself to improve every day. My two biggest strategies are exercise and communication. I have always been into exercise since I was a young kid and believe it plays a big part of maintaining your mental health and wellbeing. It helps you start your day fresh, or at the end of a day to clear the mind and reset. This can be from going to the gym, MTB to going for a surf. I recently just signed up for the Straddie Salute Triathlon to use this as another goal but at the same time maintaining my wellbeing and mental health.