This National Stress Awareness Day we’re shining a light on the importance of supporting small business owners, and encouraging founders to prioritise their mental health. 

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Being a small business owner comes with many challenges, including finances, people management, liability and much more - all of which can lead to stress, and burnout. 

A recent survey conducted by CapitalOne found that 42% of small business owners said they have experienced burnout in the past month and 24% reported they are currently experiencing burnout. One of the main reasons for this burnout is due to the current economic crisis - 71% of small business owners reported that inflation has had a negative impact on their business in the past three months, causing them stress.

Stress can be all-consuming with symptoms including: 

  • Disturbed sleep 

  • Anxiety 

  • Irritability 

  • Changes in habits with food 

  • Panic attacks 

  • Headaches 

  • Lesser productivity 

As employees, friends, or family we often forget that founders and business management are human, often placing them in a higher regard as they’re seen as authoritative figures. However, they deal with the same things as everyone else, and experience stress in the same way. And during these times of uncertainty, they’re often exposed to even more stressful situations.  

This National Stress Awareness Day we’re shining a light on the importance of supporting small business owners, and encouraging founders to prioritise their mental health. 

Commenting on the importance of supporting small business owners Kate Hayward, Director of Operations UK & EMEA at Xero says: “For small business owners facing ongoing economic turmoil, National Stress Awareness Day feels more significant than ever. 

“Stress impacts us all in different ways, and our recent study identified disturbed sleep, anxiety and feeling irritable as the most common symptoms of poor mental health – these were experienced by eight out of 10 small business owners over the last two years.

“But finding the time or capital to invest in mental health initiatives to address stress can be extremely challenging for small business owners already stretched to breaking point. More needs to be done to empower them to embrace initiatives that support the wellbeing of themselves and their staff.  

“In the meantime, there are methods small business owners and employees can practise helping manage stress. Take the container method, for example. Think of the mind as a ‘stress container’, into which stressors flow in and out. Sometimes, the container has too many stressors flowing in and we can’t empty it fast enough, manifesting in symptoms of stress. 

“However, you can drain the container and balance your mental health by using healthy coping strategies, like speaking to friends and family or practising mindfulness. For further advice around stress, organisations such as Mind provide valuable resources for you and your staff.”

So, how can founders prioritise their mental health? 

  • As hard as it may be it’s vital to take time to unwind from work and step away from technology. Ensure that you only work between certain hours and make time for yourself 

  • Plan your time in advance and be intentional about your ‘on’ and ‘off’ times. Every founder is entitled to holidays - make sure you take them

  • TALK! If you’re feeling stressed, burnt out, or experiencing other struggles, make sure you tell someone. Whether its a friend, family member or therapist - talking with people who care about you can make a world of difference. 

  • It’s okay to say no. As tempting as it may be to say yes to every opportunity, or go to those ‘once in a lifetime’ meetings. If it doesn’t serve your time or affects your mental health, it’s probably not worth it. It’s better to do one thing right than ten things wrong because you’re spread too thin.  

Find out more about National Stress Awareness Day and find resources to help here.