Causes and impacts of work stress
One study of small business owners (conducted by Everymind) uncovered many factors that contributed to poor mental health in the small business sector. These included a blurring of home and work boundaries, unpredictable income, risk of business failure and working in isolation. Over 85% of business owners said they took work home with them, and many lost sleep over work problems. One big factor contributing to work-related stress for business owners is late payments from customers. For these and other reasons, many small business owners often feel stressed.
Here are a few tips to consider to reduce workplace stress.
List your tasks
A common cause of the stress resulting from running a business is having too many things to do while lacking the time to get them all done. Writing down tasks and prioritising what needs to be done will put things into perspective and make you feel more confident. By writing these down you can select when you do the tasks and delegate things that others can do. This simple exercise can help you put things into perspective and reduce mental stress.
Consider what’s going right with your business
When you’re faced with many challenges, it can seem that nothing is going your way. Always thinking about the negatives will make it difficult to manage work and stay mentally healthy. During stressful situations, think about some of the positive things that are happening now. Also, consider your greatest accomplishments and successes. Thinking about the good things in your work and life can help you manage work-related stress.
Take regular breaks from work
Working long hours without taking breaks can lead to increased stress. Getting up from your desk, taking a short walk or getting a cup of coffee can help you reduce stress. Doing something that’s not work-related will help you clear your mind and help you in preventing and managing stress. According to a study covered in Forbes magazine, taking breaks can lead to greater productivity, increased creativity, and improved mental well-being. In addition, overworked staff are more prone to accidents. In some roles, such as manufacturing and transport, a lack of breaks can be fatal. Given the benefits, taking more breaks is a cost-effective way to boost workplace health and safety.
Take care of yourself outside of the workplace
For many small business owners, technology makes it hard to leave the work environment. Smartphones mean that all Australian workers and managers can be potentially connected to their work at all times. Time away from work is crucial stress management. This means avoiding work on evenings and weekends. Other ways to take care of yourself include eating the right foods, avoiding too much caffeine, exercising regularly and drinking enough water.
Stress warning signs
Given the time small business owners devote to their work, it can be difficult to stand back and consider stress levels and their impact on mental health. Being under too much pressure can lead to anxiety and depression. Common warning signs of anxiety and depression include:
- Avoiding social situations
- Being tired and fatigued regularly
- Being unusually emotional and tearful
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Difficulty making decisions
- Getting frustrated with tasks or people or becoming angry easily
- Not enjoying things that used to provide pleasure, such as participating in sports or socialising with friends
- Trying to cope by drinking alcohol.
If you spot any of your show any of these symptoms, you could be suffering from anxiety and depression. The Anxiety and Depression Checklist can help you determine whether you have been affected by anxiety and depression in the last four weeks and advice on the next steps to take if you need help with mental health conditions. Safe Work Australia also provides information on work-related mental health.