Small business owners: Mental health after Covid

by | Oct 19, 2021

When the Covid pandemic first began, we were all stressing about how we were going to deal with the coming “few months”.

By the middle of the pandemic, we were busy trying to just get through and keep working and now, almost 20 months later, we’re hopefully (in some way shape or form) nearing the end.

After almost two years of constantly working and dragging ourselves and our businesses through Covid, we are here, and the mental health of many self-employed people is at a low.

Because it’s not over. There’s still uncertainty, there’s still a risk out there. Many of us completely shifted our business at the start of the pandemic and are now having to shift again. All of this can have a real toll on our mental health.

Simply Business surveyed 800 UK small business owners

The survey reported 82% of participants having suffered ‘poor mental health’ in the last 12 months

Half said they suffered from anxiety.
30% experienced depression.
62% were affected by stress.

Mental Health UK talked about how running a small business while suffering can affect your business, HOWEVER only around half access support!

What can we do to help ourselves and each other, as small business owners?

There are charities in the UK that are there to help people dealing with mental health struggles, including some in the North East:

  • Mental Health North East has a program for young people, provide mental health training to workplaces and has a crisis list for all sorts of issues that you can access here.
  • Mind Tyneside and Northumberland has counselling services available for those living within Gateshead as well as a guide for if you are worried about someone here.
  • And finally, a list of services for any sort of mental health issue, big or small you can view here.

The little things

I’m not going to sit here and tell you to “relax” because it is not that easy.

Set a boundary for your work/life balance.

This works both ways – I found especially in the pandemic it’s been hard to convince myself to not work from my bed and to get up and go to my desk or to the office. I’ve had to set a boundary that I must be out of bed and at my desk by 10, even if it’s just to answer emails.

The other way around, sometimes you just need to take a day or two, turn off email notifications and just go and relax. Set the boundary to not work that day, or even to take a little bit of time off each week for you!

That stat mentioned earlier… 62% of small business owners have experienced stress over the past year and, when you are stressed, often you can’t sleep. When you can’t sleep, often your emotions can ride you like a mechanical bull. But you can’t sleep, so you cant fix it. It’s a cruel cycle.

So what can you do about that? Go back to the setting of boundaries, switch off all work-related stuff at a certain time so you don’t focus on work before bed.

I know there will be a loud sigh when I say this but.. talk!

Talking to people when you’re struggling can be super nerve-wracking and difficult but once the words come out of your mouth it can feel like the weights have been lifted a little. Even a tiny bit.

Finding a fellow self-employed person to vent to and for them to vent back is a very simple, but also very special and important connection.

In all, being self-employed is hard and it’s OK to not always be the “shining 100% machine”. Sometimes you need to take a second and work on yourself.

Becoming the best “you” takes work.