Owning a business is challenging, and it can take a serious toll on your mental health. In a recent survey, 30% of business owners reported having symptoms of depression. In the general population, only 7% of people have reported symptoms of depression.
Business owners have stressors that others simply don’t have to face. That’s especially true for owners of seasonal businesses like lawn care and pest control. When you’re not hiring and restaffing to scale up for the busy season, you’re preparing to get through the slow months.
All of these duties can be quite stressful. In time, that stress can build up and cause multiple health issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Stomach issues
- Sleep problems
- Relationship issues
Weathering the storm and staying healthy is important not just for you, but also for your business. If you neglect your own well-being, you could end up in the dangerous territory of burnout.
Chronic stress can lead to burnout, a phenomenon that’s particularly common among business owners. One study showed that among 326 entrepreneurs, 25% felt moderately burned out and 3% felt severely burned out.
Burnout is both mentally and physically dangerous, but it’s avoidable with conscientious stress management. Here’s how to take care of yourself so you stay healthy, available, and in the game.
Build a Community
When the stress of owning a small business becomes too much, other entrepreneurs can be your best resource.
A psychology study published in 2013 showed that when you express what you’re feeling to someone who understands, your stress decreases. If you’ve been feeling high levels of work stress, connect with other business owners in the pest control or lawn care industry to express your frustrations and learn from their experience.
Even something as informal as a business owners’ lunch can help you and your colleagues release stress. If it goes well, you could make it a monthly or even weekly event. This routine could also help you build important connections.
If you don’t want to commit to organizing, there are plenty of other opportunities to connect with people. You can join your local chamber of commerce and attend one of their events. You can also attend a local or online event hosted by an industry organization, like the National Pest Management Association or the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
Exorcise Stress with Exercise
Exercise is a natural stress reliever. It reduces your stress hormone levels and stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals responsible for “runner’s high.” When you exercise regularly, the increase in endorphin levels can improve your mood and help you sleep better.
Physical activity distracts your mind from the frustrations and difficulties of work while giving your body an outlet for stress symptoms. Exercise strengthens the body systems involved in the stress response — the heart, lungs, immune system, and so on. This means you end up recovering faster from stressful experiences, and they don’t take as big a toll on your body.
To make sure you get the exercise you need, find something that you enjoy doing. This can be a league sport or class. You can even find video games that add in exercise if that’s more your style. When you look forward to being active, you’re less likely to blow it off.
Meditation can be an extremely effective stress management technique for business owners. It can reduce your blood pressure, slow your heart rate and breathing, and lower the adrenaline levels in your blood.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated — meditation is easy, and you don’t need any special training. There are countless meditation apps and YouTube videos out there, so almost anyone can find a practice that works. Here are some options that can help you get started:
- Calm, the app that VeryWellMind named the best meditation app of 2021
- Headspace, one of Healthline’s picks for the best guided meditation app
- GreatMeditation, a YouTube channel that Choosing Therapy recommends for its variety
Meditation is also less time-consuming than most people realize. Just 15 minutes of meditation can effectively reduce stress. That’s enough time for a nice break during your workday.
Take Time Away
According to researchers, one of the biggest contributors to burnout is an obsession with work. Yes, you need passion and a strong work ethic to succeed as a small business owner. But when your company is the only thing you focus on, you’re more likely to experience dangerous stress levels.
Challenge yourself to take time away from work. Maybe that just means taking up a new hobby and committing to an hour every Saturday to pursue it. Even this short time away can help you connect with yourself and remember who you are outside of your business-owner role.
Longer breaks are important, too, but they take a bit more planning. For example, you can plan for a long weekend once a quarter to make sure you are getting some well-deserved time off. It can be hard for home services business owners to find this kind of time, but it’s worth it when you come back rejuvenated.
Love the Work
Venting can be helpful when things get stressful, but so is remembering why you do the work in the first place. Every day, write down something that you love about your company, team, or industry and place it somewhere you and your employees can see it every day.
If you ever have trouble finding a moment of gratitude, think of something positive a client has said about you. Read the five-star reviews people have left you on Yelp or Google My Business. Keep thank-you notes around the office so you see them when things get tough.
When you think positively about your work and even yourself, you will feel less stressed. Problems will seem less like a burden, and you will be able to do better and more meaningful work.
Invest in Support
Business owners often feel like they have to “go it alone.” And while you’ll probably always work harder than anyone else on your team, there’s a lot to be said for getting help when you can.
Sometimes this means hiring office staff to take on some of your administrative work. Other times, it means finding a third-party organization that can take on a specific business process.
Take call answering, for example. Small business owners often feel tied to their phones or computers long after business hours, just in case they miss a call from a client or lead. It’s important to provide great service, but one person can’t be available 24/7.
That’s why savvy business owners turn to answering services like Slingshot. The Slingshot team is always there whenever someone reaches out to your business, so you can be there for your customers without sacrificing your out-of-office time.
Get Started with Slingshot
Don’t stress anymore about whether you’ll be there when someone calls with an inquiry or messages with a service request. Let Slingshot be your 24/7 contact center so you can maintain the health of your business — and, more importantly, yourself.