The stress and isolation of the pandemic years has contributed to a greater focus on workplace mental health going forward. Reflecting this commitment, a 2022 study revealed that 77 percent of business owners surveyed are paying greater attention to psychological issues, including anxiety. In fact, 65 percent of respondents claim having anxiety at some time in the history of their firm.
What does anxiety look like?
Anxiety can reveal itself in any combination of ways. You can become indecisive, depressed, angry, lethargic, and panicked. Physical symptoms may include overeating or a loss of appetite, heartburn, breathing issues, ulcers, and insomnia, among others.
Four Steps for Managing Anxiety
If you're feeling that anxiety is compromising the quality of your home and/or work life, be sure to reach out to your medical doctor or a qualified mental health professional. You can also make the following changes and additions to both your management style and your workday to lessen anxiety and remain happy and productive.
1. Master the art of delegation.
"If I want it done right, I have to do it myself" is the mantra of many anxiety-ridden business owners who can't let go of tasks that others should be doing in the first place.
Break out of this bad habit by writing this week's to-do list at work. Then, consider how each one of these tasks might benefit from a well-defined standard operating procedure (SOP) — a step-by-step process for performing that task efficiently. By doing this, you're creating a guide for anyone — besides you — handling this assignment in the future.
Some industries have processes that can be more taxing on owners than others. Many business owners in manufacturing, for example, struggle with operational and production processes including:
Creating and managing production schedules
Building and monitoring operating budgets
Writing customer questionnaires and surveys
Establishing quality control procedures
Instituting contract-bidding processes
Document management best practices
With SOPs for these and other processes in place, you can start delegating away. You'll then be able to focus your energy on (a.) your big-picture business vision and (b.) taking time out for yourself. (We'll get to that in a minute.)
2. Name your demons (a.k.a. worst-case scenarios).
Is an upstart competitor poised to overtake your market share? Is your best supplier on the verge of bankruptcy? These and other worst-case scenarios might drive you crazy if you let them fester in the dark corners of your mind. But when you openly acknowledge and discuss the possibility of a crisis, you can develop a playbook for managing it ahead of time. So, when and if it comes, you'll be ready to treat it like any other business event. Yes, it will still be stressful. But you'll at least skip the paralyzing panic that comes from not having a plan.
3. Carve out "me time" for a better work/life balance.
You may be rolling your eyes at this one, but it's a non-negotiable part of managing anxiety. Self-care is vital for the entrepreneur — and that means more than a day at the spa or a shopping spree. Sleep, for example, is a daily self-care must. A recent Inc. report suggests that seven to nine hours of sleep can be a boon to entrepreneurs' mental and emotional capabilities. But even if you're well rested, spending every waking hour at a desk, counter, or workbench doesn't make sense in mental health terms. Set a work schedule for yourself and keep it. Likewise, set calendar appointments for everything from gym visits and pickleball to spending time with your loved ones.
4. Practice mindfulness.
Does the idea of setting aside time to do absolutely nothing but focus on the moment seem like a touchy-feely productivity killer? If so, you're on notice: That's a very 20th century way of thinking! Mindfulness, a broad spectrum of healthful practices, including meditation and yoga, can help in slowing down your thoughts about past and the future, focusing only on the moment. Results include greater focus and attention, as well as better sleep.
Mindfulness has become a workplace mainstay in many companies large and small (including Google) while organizations such as the World Health Organization recommend yoga sessions as a standard workplace activity for all businesses. Mindful activities are especially effective in workplaces and roles that call for a high level of social interaction and authenticity — two hallmarks of successful business management.
Consult a professional
These four steps can prove extremely beneficial in reducing workplace stress and anxiety. However, when faced with extreme anxiety that's affecting your physical, emotional, and professional wellbeing, your best course of action is to talk with a mental health professional. Healthline, a respected source of medical information, offers these nine tips for finding the right therapist.
While the joys of being your own boss are undeniable, the role comes with its fair share of stress. But through conscious management of anxiety-producing conditions at home and at work, you can reduce your anxiety and maintain the focus and energy you need to thrive.
Did You Know?
62% of business owners* provide mental health support to their employees, through access to counselling services, paid time off, flex hours, and/or other care-providing benefits.
*business of 1 to 50 employees
Source: Incfile.com, https://www.incfile.com/blog/entrepreneur-mental-health-incfile-survey
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