While Men’s Health Week shines an important spotlight on the importance of self-care, the UKBF shares these top tips to help working dads with their wellbeing every day of the year.
The last couple of years have been tough, not least for working parents who have had to juggle the pressures of their jobs with childcare responsibilities and a heavy dose of homeschooling thrown in. For parents who are running their own businesses, self-care often comes fairly low down the priority list and research from The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)) revealed that 96% of small business owners admit to keeping the stress of running a business ‘bottled up’. In fact, nearly two-thirds say they deprioritise their mental health in the name of financial success.
It can feel impossible to take time out when you are nose-deep in the day-to-day stresses of running a small business, as many members of UKBF attest. Anyone working from home, or running their own business, will find themselves juggling time at work and time out. However, a recent survey from UKBF revealed that small business owners who prioritise self-care and invested in wellbeing are more optimistic about the future. So, how can we fit self-care into our busy lives and boost our wellbeing? UKBF has these suggestions.
The first step to improving your wellbeing is recognising the signs of overwhelm or burnout before they become a problem. For some people, these are feelings of exhaustion, insomnia, catastrophising, the inability to concentrate, or feeling less interested in work. With a hectic schedule, it’s easy to overlook some of these signals, so it can help to schedule a time each day to check in with how you are feeling. Take yourself away from whatever you have been focusing on and spend a few minutes considering how you are. Just a few minutes. Ask yourself questions and talk kindly to yourself, just like you would with a friend. Tuning in and picking up on any feelings of stress, upset or discomfort early on means you can start implementing solutions to your stress triggers before they snowball.
It’s common to feel physically exhausted and mentally drained when you are stressed or experiencing burnout. The irony is that your quality of sleep often suffers too. If this sounds familiar, establish a regular sleep routine. Avoid screens for at least an hour before going to bed and try not to work too much in the evenings if possible. UKBF member @Lucan Unlordly addressed his sleeping habits after a doctor flagged it up as an issue. ‘The hospital doctor said I was knocking decades off of my life due to lack of quality uninterrupted sleep,’ he explained. ‘Taking his advice, after just a few days of improved shut eye, I’m focusing better, making better decisions and am much less stressed. Nothing has changed at work, but it took a medical wake up call for me to realise the answer lay in my hands.’
Reflectively writing down what you are thinking and feeling can be an effective way of helping people manage stress and anxiety. When we take time out of our day to journal, we improve our self-awareness and can see patterns in our behaviours.
Writing affirmations and positive quotes down on paper can also help support motivation and mindset. Similarly, daily gratitude practice can help calm down frantic mind monkeys and bring clarity and focus.
This is really important when you run your own small business and feel like everything will fall apart if you’re not there. ‘There’s the pressure to ‘keep going’, which is a bit of a false economy because you then never recover and get your enthusiasm back,’ says UKBF member @The Supplier Central. ‘When I feel like this, I give myself permission for a week to only do the essentials and either just go for a lot of walks or take a break and focus on tasks that I enjoy to try and get some of my mojo back!’
Technology has sped up our daily lives, and its availability means we are ‘always on’. When we feel the world has sped up, it’s time to step away. Far from running faster to keep up, we need to stop. We need to slow down and allow ourselves to be more present in the moment. By developing greater awareness of our surroundings and how we are feeling and thinking through mindfulness meditation, we can improve control over our feelings and help ourselves overcome negative emotions and behaviours.
Careful time management is an invaluable skill for business owners to master. Time Blocking is a popular method of dividing your day into periods of time that are assigned to specific tasks or activities to focus on without interruption.
Whilst some of the small business owners UKBF spoke to for its wellbeing survey said maintaining a healthy work-life balance is challenging, more than half of them devote between four and ten hours every week to their self-care. A further 20% dedicate between one and three hours per week. The survey revealed a wide range of ways small business owners look after their wellbeing. The most popular activities are crafting, daily exercise, going outdoors and spending time with animals. Maintaining a healthy diet was also key in helping overall health and wellbeing.