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Mental health challenges for business owners

DECEMBER 19, 2018









Looking after yourself is not just important for your own wellbeing, but also for your business. You need to take time over the holidays to relax so you can come into the New year refreshed and ready to hit the ground running for 2019. Andy Burrows, with help from The Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ has developed some tips on how to ensure you get the most out of your summer break.

If you take notice of the safety briefing at the start of every flight, the flight attendant tells you to fit your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone you are traveling with. Seems a bit self centred, but you aren’t much good to those depending on you if you are not in the best position to help them. The same applies to mental health, and maybe you should think about your own needs in this space for a change.  

Bosses or business owners usually have team members who display symptoms of stress and anxiety, especially around the end of the year. It’s great to want to help them out, but it also raises the issue of your own needs and how running a business can be a stressful and tiring undertaking. Time to check your own mental health oxygen mask! 

The Mental Health Foundation has some great resources that can be used in the workplace to proactively manage the issue of mental health. And, its Five Ways of Wellbeing offer constructive, positive advice for managing your wellbeing now and in the year ahead. 

1. Connect

Evidence shows that CONNECTING with others including colleagues, friends, whānau and the wider community promotes wellbeing, and helps build a support network for when times get tough. 

We all need to feel close to other people, and valued by them. At work, having good relationships with colleagues helps us stay motivated and engaged. Connecting is about being there for others, talking and listening, and feeling a sense of belonging. 

Examples include: 

  • Talk to someone – and really listen
  • Organise a shared lunch or eat lunch with colleagues
  • Find ways to collaborate
  • Plan a social event at work 
  • Play with your kids
  • Talk or phone instead of emailing
  • Join a team or club

2. Keep Learning

Setting goals, being open to new ideas and continuing to LEARN throughout life helps boost wellbeing and build resilience. Learning improves our self-esteem, keeps us connected and involved and helps us adapt to change and find meaning in our lives. It has also been shown to help prevent depression in later years.

Learning is more than just formal education it’s about exploring new ideas, seeing opportunities, embracing new experiences and sharpening our skills. It means being curious and having an enquiring mind, in all areas of life. 

Examples include:

  • Take a course
  • Add to your work knowledge
  • Organise lunchtime workshops
  • Set a goal and work towards achieving it
  • Take on a new task or help someone
  • Get to know your colleagues more

3. Be Active

As well as improving physical health and fitness, being ACTIVE can also improve our mood and overall mental wellbeing, and decrease stress, depression and anxiety. 

These benefits are increased when we get outside. 

Being active with others can help us feel more connected and motivates us to build new habits. 

Being active does not have to mean going for a run. Do what you can to move your mood. Any form of physical movement can be beneficial – find something that you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

Think about how you could move or stand more at work – build habits to bring more active movement into your work day. 

Examples include: 

  • Join a sports team
  • Break up long periods of sitting
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Try some stretches 

4. Give

GIVING is more than just sharing material things with others. It’s about cultivating a spirit of generosity and actively supporting others. 

The acts of giving, receiving and being aware of acts of kindness, even indirectly, give us a sense of purpose and self-worth. Giving also builds mana and connection with others. At work, a culture of giving helps to build a positive emotional environment and promotes connection, empathy and team work. 

Examples include:  

  • Compliment someone or thank them for their work
  • Help a colleague with their work
  • Share your ideas or feedback
  • Make someone a cup of tea
  • Support a friend or whānau member

5. Take Notice

Using ATTENTION to increase awareness, concentration, and focus on the current moment and the task at hand, has been shown to improve wellbeing and mood. 

These are skills that can give us greater creativity, accuracy, and productivity. 

Becoming more aware of the present moment means noticing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes we’re experiencing, as well as the thoughts and feelings that occur from one moment to the next. It’s about reconnecting with the world around us, appreciating the little things and savouring the moment.

Examples include:

  • Notice signs of the season changing
  • Listen to your favourite music
  • Take a break from digital devices
  • Single-task – do one thing at a time

For more advice, email the Trades Coach at [email protected] and receive a ’systems shopping list for builders’ to assist your longer-term planning in 2018.  




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