As we approach the end of a particularly difficult year, many entrepreneurs, like Scott Dylan, are unsure how to sustain a thriving business into January. 2020 has been impossible to predict, and there’s still much uncertainty around how many businesses will operate over the next few months. Lots of these businesses are under more financial strain than ever before – and staying positive for the new year is a much bigger challenge than usual for many of us.
Of course, the new year is always a time for self-reflection. But many entrepreneurs are likely to feel more self-critical than reflective this year, which may leave us feeling overwhelmed and even trigger bouts of anxiety or depression. But this isn’t the mindset that we need to kick off the new year. It’s important that we’re ready to tackle the year ahead and hopefully finish 2021 on a more positive note.
Here, entrepreneur, mentor, investor, and founder of Fresh Thinking Group (FTG) Scott Dylan shares his advice on how to use the new year as a time to nurture your goals, stay motivated, and look after your mental health. As a keen advocate of mental health himself, Scott Dylan ensures that each of his countless teams can work in happy and healthy environments. So, without further ado, here are Scott’s 10 tips to help business leaders to prioritise their wellbeing in 2021.
The cliché ‘new year, new you’ is rarely a healthy motto to adopt; it puts a huge strain on entrepreneurs to completely revamp themselves. This is typically unobtainable and only leads to disappointment when you find yourself slipping back to your old habits. Instead, Scott Dylan recommends taking a progressive approach: if you can accept yourself for who you are, it makes it easier to make small, manageable changes to your routine and mindset instead of trying to completely change yourself. Think about which habits you’d really like to change and approach these one step at a time.
Adopt Self-Care Practices
Scott Dylan finds that adopting self-care practices is a great first step to improving your mental health which, in turn, helps you to improve your performance as an entrepreneur. He recommends the following mood-boosters.
- Take time to appreciate yourself each day by focusing on your qualities and the skills that you are grateful for. Next time you feel like shooting yourself down, take a moment to think about your qualities instead.
- Work on your relationships with the people who matter most. Your closest relationships can have a massive impact on your psychological wellbeing, and spending time with your family and friends is likely to improve your mood. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you, as well as people who simply make you happy.
- Find time to do something you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Enjoying an activity that uplifts you, perhaps before bed or first thing in the morning, can be the motivational start or finish that you need to keep your mood up.
- When something goes wrong in your business, try not to beat yourself up. Instead, imagine how you would like a friend to treat you if you confided in them about this challenge. You should be as kind and supportive to yourself as you hope they’d be.
Speaking of mood-boosters, mindfulness is an excellent way to ground yourself and relieve stress – especially during the new year. Christmas often takes us out of our usual routines, and the return to normality can feel hectic. But when we pay attention to the present moment through meditation, breathing, and yoga, we can become more aware of our feelings and channel our thoughts effectively. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time-consuming either – you could take just a minute or two each day to focus on your breathing or try a body scan.
Take Time for Yourself
When you find that your work-life balance is suffering, you shouldn’t feel guilty about hitting pause and taking some time to recuperate. It can be reassuring to promise yourself that you’ll allow yourself time out should stress become problematic. Not only will a break help to get you back into the right frame of mind for work, but it can also give you time to pinpoint the triggers that are affecting you most and make necessary changes. Not to mention the fact that time out allows you to spend time with loved ones doing the things you enjoy most, which can be incredibly healing.
Find an Exercise Routine That Suits You
Lots of people exercise purely to enjoy the physical benefits, but a fitness regime can be equally beneficial for your mental health. In fact, taking up an exercise that you enjoy has been proven to improve your mood, relieve stress, increase self-esteem, and reduce anxiety or depression. The new year always sees a surge of new gym-goers and fitness fads, but if the gym isn’t something that excites you, walking, running, and cycling are all also great ways to step up your physical and mental wellbeing – as are dance and sports classes.
Whether you opt for the Couch to 5K or an aerobics class, you don’t need to give up huge amounts of time to improve your exercise routine. The NHS recommends that adults complete 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, which only equates to 30 minutes of exercise five days a week – a lunchtime walk or a cycle commute, perhaps. When choosing an exercise routine that suits you, it can be helpful to consider exactly what you want to get out of being active, whether you’d prefer to be indoors or outdoors, and whether you’d prefer to exercise alone or in a group. You might find it helpful to buddy up with a friend so you can hold each other accountable and stick to your routine.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Many of us overeat at Christmas – and a few indulgences won’t hurt – but it’s all too easy to let this extend well into January and beyond, and an unbalanced diet can have a considerable effect on your physical and mental health. Risks include obesity, heart problems, joint problems, and high blood pressure, each of which can take a toll on your mental health.
On the flip side, eating well can alleviate negative feelings, especially when you opt for foods that are high in folic acid (try avocado and spinach) and omega 3 acids (try salmon and tuna). When paired with a good exercise routine, seeing the physical effects of a healthy diet can also improve your mood.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Christmas and new year tend to mean drinks all round, and why not? A few drinks are all part of the celebrations, and it’s hard to say no when everyone’s having a few. But alcohol is a depressant that leaves many feeling low and anxious – and it’s okay to be open about this. Those in your social circle should respect your decision if alcohol isn’t for you.
Having said that, others find that alcohol provides relief from stress, depression, or anxiety and often opt for a drink when the going gets hard. But resorting to alcohol for stress relief can quickly lead to addiction, leading to further stress and challenges. Instead, gradually cutting down your alcohol consumption in favour of alternative stress-relief techniques can help you to feel happier, healthier, and more functional.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important, too – though few of us get enough, especially those of us who work demanding hours and/or have young children. Nonetheless, if you can consistently get eight hours of sleep, you’ll feel more alert and positive during your waking hours. As the mental health charity Mind explains, there is a close relationship between sleep and mental health – and improving the two go hand on hand. When working on your sleep routine, consistency can be a huge benefit – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to stabilise a healthy sleep routine. It’s also a good idea to avoid napping during the day, limit caffeine, and reduce the time that you spend using electronic devices an hour before bed.
Try New Hobbies
When feeling low, it’s natural to want to spend time alone. But isolating yourself forces you to spend more time in your head – which can be a pretty low place when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Instead, it can be helpful to find a hobbyist group to meet new people who share your interests – even if this doesn’t initially feel like something you’d like to do, especially when it’s dark, wet, and miserable in January. But whether you opt for a book club, a cooking class, or something entirely different, groups and clubs are a fantastic way to expand your social circle, meet new people, and relieve stress. Hopefully, you’ll thank yourself later down the line for putting yourself out there.
Reduce Social Media Time
Social media indeed helps us to connect with family and friends, but it can also have a devastating effect on our mental health. When we scroll through sites like Facebook and Instagram, we often can’t help but compare ourselves to others. Our friends’ and business connections’ achievements can make us feel inadequate, but it’s important to remember that we only see the highlights reels from these people’s lives – we don’t see the whole picture, and their businesses, achievements, and social circles are unlikely to be any glossier than ours.
Younger generations are particularly at risk of feeling social media’s negative impact. In fact, over a third of Generation Z individuals in a 2018 study said that they would quit social media altogether because the platforms make them feel anxious or depressed. It’s worth a try to see how cutting social media impacts you – you could log out for a day, a week, or a month and might surprise yourself at how much better you feel.
A Healthier New Year
2020 may have thrown some unexpected challenges your way, but the path to recovery – both for you and your business – leads into 2021. With these tips in mind, you can be best positioned to approach the new year with a positive mindset.
You can catch up on more mental health tips and advice at Scott Dylan’s blog, where he delves into management strategies, effective collaboration, and cultivating transparent workplace cultures to get mental health out into the open.
About Scott Dylan
As the founder of Manchester’s capital investment organisation Fresh Thinking Group, Scott Dylan is an entrepreneur and mentor who acquires businesses and works with countless teams to blend their skillsets to achieve ambitious, growth-related targets. Scott founded FTG as a private equity disruptor to improve business behaviours through high-level, collaborative capabilities and push the success boundaries of its acquisitions. Scott Dylan also funds several other companies through Fresh Thinking Group, including Inc & Co, Inc & Co Property, and Orb Group. Each of these organisations offers sector-specific specialities and holds further subsidiaries.