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How to care for your mental wellbeing and avoid burnout

Starting a business can be a pressured time, so it makes sense to take steps to protect your mental wellbeing.

Trying to get your idea off the ground can be accompanied by pressures that may adversely affect your mental wellbeing.

Long hours, multi-tasking, financial worries, and a lack of certainty can potentially result in burnout for small business owners and a report by the London Business School found that entrepreneurs are 50% more likely than the general adult population opens in new window to report having a mental health condition.


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Discover more about managing people with our free Managing and managing people course opens in new window, with teaches you managerial effectiveness, the skills required and how to develop management skills.

As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans opens in new window partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.


Common causes of stress for business owners

The causes of stress involved in starting a business may include:

  • excessive working hours – Working in the evenings or at the weekend occasionally might be expected by many new business owners. Catching up on emails, paperwork, or bookkeeping are often completed outside normal working hours. Yet excessive working can leave little time to relax properly.
  • workload and multitasking – As a new business owner, you may take on multiple roles from sales and marketing activities to training new staff. A heavy workload and extra responsibility can lead to higher stress levels that may impact your sleep opens in new window and risk burnout.
  • lack of support – Burnout can be a particular risk if you’re a sole trader or run a business without a partner to share the workload or business worries. You may also not feel comfortable sharing work-related troubles with friends and family.
  • business finances – Cash flow can be a challenge for start-ups and worries over getting paid and paying bills, wages, and suppliers can increase feelings of stress.

How to avoid burnout as a new business owner

According to the NHS opens in new window, there are several general activities you can try to help you better manage stress and avoid burnout.

  1. Talking about how you feel – friends, family members, your local GP and organisation such as Samaritans opens in new window can be a helpful route to articulating your feelings and taking a positive step to improving mental health.
  2. Meditation and breathing – taking time to achieve a sense of calm through mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises can help tackle stress. The NHS offers a step-by-step guide opens in new window or you can try one of the many smartphone meditation apps.
  3. Mental wellbeing audio guides – download free audio NHS mental health wellbeing guides opens in new window, which cover topics such as anxiety control training, sleep problems and tackling unhelpful thinking.
  4. Get enough sleepMind offers a series of tips to improve sleep opens in new window, including establishing a sleep routine, relaxation tips and limiting time exposed to screens and devices.
  5. Regular exercise – Research by Mind found that physical exercise can help improve mental health opens in new window, leading to better sleep, happier moods, and enhancing your ability to manage stress and anxiety.

In addition, business owners can take the following steps:


1.Time management

Managing your time effectively can help alleviate stress. Breaking down tasks into more manageable chunks can help with feelings of being overwhelmed, allow you to feel like you are making progress, and focus on the tasks that matter most.

Read our guide on workload management opens in new window for more advice.


2.Delegate tasks

It’s tempting to juggle a variety of tasks when starting a business, but it can be better for your health to delegate certain tasks.

For example, outsource activities such as bookkeeping or chasing payments to an accountant or invoice factoring company. Invest in staff training to upskill employees so they can take on more responsibility.


3.Find business support

Use business networking groups like your local business hub, British Chambers of Commerce opens in new window, or Federation of Small Businesses opens in new window to find similar businesses or other start-up business owners.

It can be helpful to compare notes, share problems and lend support to others.


4.Surface financial issues

If you’re worried about financial issues such as cash flow or the ability to meet loan repayments or pay suppliers, it may be worth talking to a lender or financial institution sooner rather than later.

Many lenders and financial organisations offer support programmes and advice for smaller businesses that may be struggling.

You may be able to negotiate better credit terms, such as taking a payment holiday or repaying just the interest on a loan for a period.

Read our guide to strengthening your cash flow opens in new window.


Learn with Start Up Loans and help your business get off the ground.

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on sustainability in the workplace.

Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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