A simple model for small business owners, families, and individuals to help with the journey to positive mental health.
9th – 15th May is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK – here is a simple-to-use model to help you at home, at work, with family, friends, or anywhere you choose to apply it. In this blog, we will look at the practical applications you can make in your day-to-day life and business practices.
First: What is good mental health?
Simply put mental health and wellbeing is how you cope with your day-to-day life.
This could include: how you manage changes and life stresses to feeling confident, having good boundaries in place, and connecting positively with the local community, among others.
The key for business owners is to realise you are your business, so the more you prioritise your own wellbeing, the better your business will be. Putting yourself first means your relationships with clients, staff, suppliers, and contractors will yield better results.
Remember, we all have periods when we are not at our best. It’s ok. That is life, it is perfectly normal to feel minimally stressed or have a short period of low mood once in a while.
Using the tips below can help you through these periods and keep you going until help arrives. If you are feeling you can’t cope, are isolated, unhappy or going through a trauma, the best thing you can do is to ask for help. If you don’t speak up, or experience low mental health and wellbeing over long periods, longer-term negative effects could take hold.
There are lots of actions you can take to manage your mental health and create positive wellbeing.
Five ways to wellbeing
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) developed the Five Ways to Wellbeing model as a “set of evidence-based public health messages aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole population”. Here’s a quick guide to what the NEF says and some of my practical tips on how you can apply these in your business or daily lives.
“With the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.”
- Attend a networking event and speak to someone you don’t know
- Ask your supplier how they really are, take a few minutes to actively listen and engage with them
- Remember to thank your staff in person rather than sending an email or via zoom
- No mobile phones at the dinner table, encourage your children to share how their day went
- Take your partner on an unexpected date
“Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.”
- Include a gentle walk by getting off the bus one or two stops early and walking the rest of the way (if you only drive, park at the furthest spot and walk)
- Take a member of your team for a walk around the block at lunchtime – you both need the break
- Walk to your colleague’s desk rather than sending a text or email
- Try a family yoga class – exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous and can be for all ages
- Make a dedicated weekly family afternoon where each member gets to choose an activity they enjoy doing and everyone else joins in
“Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.”
- Share a picture of a beautiful view on your way into the office
- Water the office plant (if needed) or buy an office plant if there isn’t one
- Compliment your colleague’s new haircut or outfit
- Notice when your children do their household tasks, praise them for a job well done
- Call your parents especially when your diary is full
“Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.”
- Ask a colleague in another department about their work and how they came to be in that role
- Research a different industry sector and see if you can find similarities to yours
- Find out what your team likes best and set up a group activity
- Attend ‘the’ class you’ve been promising yourself for ages
- Choose a new ‘word of the day’ as a family and use it all day long
“Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.”
- Give back to the source of your inspiration: say thank you, hug, donate to your favourite cause every time a colleague does well
- Developing an attitude of gratitude starts by noticing what you do have (in your business and life) – and being happy with that
- Volunteer for a cause close to your heart or do some pro bono work through the business for a worthy cause as a team activity
- Encourage the family to join a litter-picking scheme or a local food bank, teach your children about giving by actively taking part as a family
- Smile at the person ahead of you in the queue, smiles are free and contagious!
Be kind – you’ll live longer
By committing random acts of kindness you can improve your mental health and wellbeing exponentially. Erika Stoerkel MSc Positive Psychology article found a number of benefits to random acts of kindness improving mental health and wellbeing include (among others):
- Kindness makes one feel calmer
- Less depressed
- Increased feelings of self-worth
- Decreased feelings of pain
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Lowered blood pressure
So there you have it, looking after yourself is being kind… and it is a priority! Will you share how many of these tips you will put into practice this week?
Found this article useful? Let me know and Please share it!
Have a few more tips, ideas and ways of improving your mental health and wellbeing, please share them with me in the comments below.
If you or someone you know are feeling in need of support, please speak out. Here is a list of resources that can help you on your way to better mental health and wellbeing:
- Contact your local GP practice as soon as possible
- Use the NHS App to find help
- Talk to a friend or family member if you can
- Your business/employer should have an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) with a confidential, free support line, ask them for this number
- Federation of Small Business Members can access help at https://www.fsb.org.uk/join-us/membership/fsb-member-benefits/fsb-care.html
- Mind Helpline (open Mondays-Fridays 9 am – 6 pm except for bank holidays) 0300 123 3393
- NHS IAPT Services can be accessed at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/