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How to take care of your mental health as a small business owner

How to take care of your mental health as a small business owner

Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May. Each year, we become better educated on how to improve our mental health. There are more resources available now than ever before. Online therapy is convenient and effective and we have learned to dedicate time to improving our mental health.   

Even so, a May 2023 Gallup poll reports that depression rates in the US are at a record high. 29% of U.S. adults report being diagnosed with depression at some point during their lifetimes. That’s a significant increase from 19.6% in 2015.

Dealing with mental health as a small business owner

Owning your own business is stressful! Business owners deal with a seemingly never-ending amount of stress. Managing employees, making profits, putting in long hours, and constantly dealing with “the unexpected” leads to burnout. It’s no wonder that small business owners often struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. We are never truly unplugged. This is my plea for you to take time to care for yourself BEFORE burnout sets in–and encourage your employees to do the same.  After all, if one of your employees suddenly resigns due to mental health issues, are you ready to pick up the pieces of your business?      

At a recent NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) event, I had the opportunity to meet Azizi Marshall, an award-winning Workplace Mental Health expert.  She helps businesses create healthy atmospheres with resources and support tools to promote mental wellness within the workplace. According to Azizi, “Workplace mental health programs are essential for creating a supportive and resilient workforce. By providing resources and training that focus on mental well-being, companies can significantly reduce absenteeism and turnover, while boosting employee morale and loyalty.”

According to Azizi, “A mentally healthy workplace is a thriving workplace.  Stress reduction and resilience training have a profound impact on employee performance and company ROI. When employees are equipped with the tools to manage stress and build resilience, they are more likely to stay engaged, maintain high productivity levels, and contribute positively to the workplace culture. Investing in these areas is a win-win for both employees and employers.”  

How to avoid burnout 

Symptoms of burnout include insomnia, fatigue, high blood pressure, irritability, and sadness. One way I prevent burnout is by delegating tasks to my trusted Team at Reconciled Solutions. It’s sometimes hard for us business owners because we are so invested in our business, and we think no one can do certain tasks better than us. Not the case if you surround yourself with talented employees! By delegating tasks, it allows me to take more time away from work – spending time with my family or on my own.  I designed my business to run without me for stretches of time, following the Mike Michalowicz “Clockwork” plan.   

My Director of Stress Management, Patriot, also helps me focus on my own physical and mental well-being! 

Quick facts about mental illness 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness: 

  • One out of every 5 US adults experience mental illness each year 
  • One out of every 20 US adults experience serious mental illness each year 
  • 34% of US adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2021 (19.4 million people) 
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24 
  • Common signs of mental illness can include the following:  
  • Excessive worrying or fear 
  • Feeling excessively sad or low 
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning 
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria 
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger 
  • Avoiding friends and social activities 
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people 
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy 
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite 
  • Changes in sex drive 
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality) 
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia) 
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs 
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”) 
  • Thinking about suicide 
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress 
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance 

Support & Education for dealing with mental health as a small business owner

If you are struggling, you are not alone!  There are many support services available through the National Alliance on Mental Illness.   Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. There’s no “one size fits all” treatment. Treatment options can includemedication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.  As Azizi Marshall said, “When employees understand and manage their emotions effectively, they are better equipped to handle stress and collaborate with their colleagues, leading to a healthier and more productive work environment.” 

Read more about the Illinois “Paid Leave for All Workers Act”, which makes it easier for employees to take time off of work to focus on their mental health.  This month we revisit the recent mandatory PTO regulations for employers in the State of Illinois, which went into effect on January 1, 2024, as well as the City of Chicago Ordinance, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024. Have any questions? We’re here to help!

Angie Noll