Man at computer using phone and calculator
Man at computer using phone and calculator

How business owners, leaders and managers can manage their mental health

Small business owners, senior leaders and managers have been left reeling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether your business has closed or is still operating, here are some strategies to help you navigate COVID-normal while taking care of your mental health.

Business in Australia have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your business may have had to close down or you may be facing the immediate financial stress of reduced turnover. You might be applying for government assistance (perhaps for the first time) and dealing with the emotional impact of what’s happening to a business you’re invested in. You’re also no doubt concerned about your employees who may be dealing with losing their jobs or a reduction in hours.

Many business owners, leaders and managers are likely still dealing with the impact of the pandemic – mentally, emotionally and physically, which is why taking care of yourself now is so important.

Below, we detail some coping strategies, and provide information about where to turn for additional support.

Support your staff

It’s natural to be concerned about the wellbeing of your staff, especially those who have been stood down, those whose roles have been made redundant and casual workers who you no longer have work for.

This article looks at ways in which you can support the wellbeing of your employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking after yourself

Whether you’re a business owner, senior leader or a manager, to be best-equipped to support your employees, it's important that you prioritise your own wellbeing – both physical and mental.

Some practical tips

  • Try to maintain perspective.
  • Make sure you are accessing accurate information for your situation.
  • Structure your days and establish a routine as best you can.
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns and make sure to get enough rest.
  • Look after your physical health, and find a way to stay active.
  • Try something each day that makes you feel good.
  • Participate in exercises that you find relaxing, and perhaps try therapeutic activities such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga.

Prioritise your mental health and wellbeing

Creating a wellbeing plan is one way to make sure you have the strategies in place to look after your employees’ mental health and wellbeing – and your own.

Beyond Blue’s Workplace wellbeing resources for small business owners include two useful guides.

The Personal Wellbeing Plan is designed to help small business owners ensure they have the strategies in place to look after their mental health and wellbeing. It can also help you plan for future success in your business.

The Workplace Wellbeing Plan helps small business owners who employ staff identify ways to create a mentally healthy workplace.

This guide was created by Victorian Small Business Commission for small business owners to help support their mental wellbeing helpful, too.

Access emotional support

  • Seek out support, both practical and emotional. Talking to other people is one way to help make sense of your situation.
  • In addition to speaking to colleagues and others you are close to, consider reaching out to fellow business owners and managers who can relate to your specific circumstances.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak with your GP or a health professional if you find it hard to stop worrying.

Prepare for COVID-normal life

Whether your business has closed, is still temporarily shut down or you’re just working reduced hours, it’s important to remember that there will be an opportunity to get back to business as usual in the future.

In the meantime, there are several ways you can use the time to focus on the future.

  • Consider completing any outstanding administrative activities you’ve simply been too busy for, such as tax reporting, updating your business or department plan, so you are ready for the next chapter in your professional life.
  • Enrol in an online training course or conduct online research or background reading into your sector so you can return to work with new knowledge and expertise.
  • Share ideas with loyal and trusted staff members who may be able to assist you when it’s time to start working again.
  • If your business is still operating or could be revived in the future, small business owners especially might use this time to beef up your online presence, including your website and social media profile. If you’ve always wanted to take your small business online but haven’t had the time, now is an ideal opportunity to get organised.
  • Maintain contact with your customers via direct email, social media or signage (if applicable).
  • Try to share your business journey with your community in order to retain customer loyalty.

Additional resources

This simple checklist aims to measure whether you, as a small business owner or manager, may have been affected by depression and anxiety during the past four weeks.

HeadGear is a free an easy-to-use smartphone app designed by Black Dog Institute to build resilience and wellbeing. Download it for free here.

Smiling Mind have developed a free mindfulness program for small business owners.

The Path back from Social Isolation publication is a COVID-19 resource and free interactive training module for business leaders and employees. You can download the pdf here.

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