Caring for your mental health as a small-business owner


As rewarding as it is to run your own business, it’s also challenging. The long hours, endless workload and inevitable setbacks can take a toll on your mental health. Prioritising and supporting the development of positive mental health habits at work is critical in helping your business to thrive.

Lead by example

With the many stressors of running a business, it’s unsurprising that small-business owners experience challenges to their mental health. In a survey of small-business owners and operators by MYOB, 46 per cent said running their own business has directly impacted feelings of anxiety or depression. Yet, around 72 per cent don’t seek help. 

However, when small-business owners are in a state of good mental health, their employees are more likely to experience these positive feelings too. Put simply, you can’t lead a mentally healthy workplace if you’re not in the right headspace yourself.

Whether maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, allowing yourself to say “no” to things and making time for family, friends and activities you enjoy, and seeking support when you need it – it’s important for small-business owners to model positive behaviour in the workplace. 

Create a safe space

Although it might seem taboo to talk about mental health in the workplace, being honest and transparent with your people about wellbeing at work will lead to higher levels of trust. In turn, higher levels of trust help to empower employees, make them feel valued and less stigmatised if they need to confide in you or others.

Simple measures like ensuring employees take their full lunch break, encouraging them to go for a walk and get some fresh air and exercise, being approachable and actively taking time to talk with each other throughout the day all contribute to a positive culture of inclusion and acceptance.

Mindfulness in the workplace

Introducing and encouraging mindfulness within the workplace is a simple yet effective way to help small-business owners create a mentally healthy workplace.

According to Smiling Mind’s State of Mind survey, at least half of all survey respondents who practice mindfulness believe it is beneficial for managing stress and anxiety, improving resilience, enhancing focus and attention, and helping individuals feel more relaxed and calmer.

With benefits including increased productivity levels, a more positive work environment, improved stress management skills, the result of establishing a regular practice can have a lasting positive impact on the entire workplace.

Introducing mindfulness into your small business can be simple. Try mapping out a few minutes at the beginning of each day to sit in a quiet space, focus your mind and allow yourself to check in.