14 Mental Health Tips for Small Business Owners

Being a business owner is tough. And owning a retail business is even tougher. Now add in the stresses of managing your kids, sorting through piles of laundry, coping with Gran’s death, and making an overdue mortgage payment and you’ll start to feel like you’re at your whit’s end! So how do you cope? How do you handle the stress? Do you plow through & let the stress pile up? Do you guiltily eat french fries in the carpool line while choking back tears? Do you feel like you’re ready to give up?

Well, I’m here to say, “Don’t!” Don’t give up. Don’t push those feelings aside. Pick yourself up, read through these tips, and know that you aren’t alone! Stop comparing yourself to the picture-perfect gals on Instagram. They only show you their good side. Everyone has troubles. Everyone has difficulties. Everyone falls & fails. But it’s those that work for it & get back up that are the winners.

I know that it’s not always easy to see things in a positive light or motivate yourself to try a new sales tactic, analyze your financials, dive into a new project, or be inspired to shoot some new arrivals. You see happy, smiling coaches encouraging you to shift your mindset, get organized, and reach your goals. (Side Note: I love all of the positivity they generate, & I have nothing against these individuals!)  But sometimes, you need a push to get you started. You aren’t quite ready to tackle those monthly, quarterly, or annual goals because you feel like you’re just struggling to get by! Well once you integrate these tips into your life, you’ll be ready to tackle your Best Year Yet & kick butt in the boutique world and in your personal life.

These tips come from my personal experience so I know they work. I’ve been on rock bottom. I’ve spent months at the bottom of the hole. I’ve spent years searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. But now, I know that there is a light. There is something on the other side. There is a way to get out of the hole. I may fall back into the hole from time to time, but I know how to get out. I won’t dive into my story because this isn’t about me. It’s about YOU! I want you to know that you are not alone! I used to think “depression” and “anxiety” were simply moods that you just had to get over. How could it be an illness if you can’t see it?! I struggled with that the most because I felt like I had no legitimate reason to feel this way. Do NOT feel guilty for your feelings, but rather, keep tabs on your mental health. Find your support system. I know there are people in your life that love you & want to help you – especially your fellow #BoutiqueBosses! Please remember that you aren’t alone in this. Walk with me as we take this one day at a time.

  1. One Day at a Time – And that’s exactly what my first tip is. Taking one day at a time. I have this saying on a post-it note to remind me whenever I feel overwhelmed. As business owners, you oftentimes feel like you have to do everything at once & that your goals are a huge mountain without a marked path. Take one day at a time & make small steps. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow because you aren’t there yet. How do you eat an elephant? One day at a time.

  2. Sunshine – Living in Wisconsin, there’s a noticeable lack of sunshine nine months of the year. And it seems like I start working when it’s dark out & close my computer after the sun has gone down. This may be difficult, but you can integrate it with unique ways. Go outside during lunch, take the kids on a walk, turn on the lights in your office, or get a light box to brighten up the room. Although natural sunshine is best, artificial light indoors is better than a dark & gloomy room. Remember, small steps.

  3. Vitamin D – Why is sunshine so essential for us? Because it gives us Vitamin D, whose components help combat the physiological aspects of depression. My doctor has told me multiple times that the majority of people in this area (Wisconsin) have a Vitamin D deficiency due to our lack of sunlight in the winter months. Besides those in the cold, mid-western states, dark-skinned people have a more difficult time absorbing light so they could also benefit from a Vitamin D supplement. Personally, I take a Vitamin D supplement every day & up my dosage in the winter months. Of course, consult your doctor before making any changes to your health. A daily vitamin doesn’t sound too hard, right?

  4. Eating Healthy – Do I really have to explain the benefits of eating healthy? No matter how many times we hear it, we still reach for the Oreos when we think no one is looking. Small treats are fine (and shouldn’t make you feel guilty!), but you should also try to incorporate some of the super foods that help combat depression. Here’s some of my favorites.
    Photo Cred: Katsch Boutique
  5. Sleep – This is my favorite tip & the one that I always make a priority. The other Hub staffers know that I am not a night person & even opted to go to bed rather than gamble in Vegas. Some claim you should always be hustlin’ & “you can sleep when you’re dead,” but I know that I’m not going to make it very far if I don’t get my necessary. If you don’t believe me, do a quick Google search to see the health benefits of sleep.

  6. Exercise – I hate running. I trip playing kickball. I’ve never made a 3-pointer. I was always picked close to last in gym class. Athletic skills & my name have never gone hand-in-hand. But good news, I don’t have to have actual athletic abilities to exercise! Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean training for a marathon. For me, it means taking my dog for daily walks, hitting my 10,000 steps every day, playing in the volleyball bar league, and going to yoga class. No, you won’t see participating in a triathlon, but this is better than nothing! Small steps start with one walk around the block. Give yourself a ‘high five’ – you’re doing great!

  7. Demand your ‘me time’ – I may not have any mini-me’s around, but I’ve dealt with my share of chaos. One quote that often runs through my head is “I can’t help others if I don’t first help myself.” Take some advice from my favorite gal Rachel Hollis & take an hour for yourself every day. That may mean you get up an hour earlier or pay a babysitter to watch the kids so you can get a manicure. Whatever your ‘me time’ entails, make it a priority.                 Photo Credit: Laminin Jewelry
  8. Being around people – As a self-proclaimed ambivert, I can physically feel my energy restore with an afternoon alone & the much-needed “me time”. However, after spending three days alone in my house (I work from home), I can also feel myself going crazy from lack of physical contact with people. As much as I want to stay in my leggings on the couch, when I force myself to go work at a coffee shop or run to Target, I begin to feel so much better & the dark cloud dissipates. One good way to make sure you integrate this is to schedule regular date nights, Happy Hours with your girlfriends, or morning walks with the neighbor. If you have someone to keep you accountable, you’re less likely to skip out.

  9. Make a list of the things you enjoy doing – Remember that Julie Andrews song from The Sound of Music? Raindrops on roses & whiskers on kittens? Create your own “Favorite Things” song with a list of things that make you happy. Then, display it where you can see it often. I also run through a mental list of these things whenever I’m feeling down. Then, I try to integrate one into my day so it doesn’t seem so cruddy. So, what’s on my list? Chocolate chip cookies, walks with my dog, reading a novel, chips & guac, or singing at the top of my lungs to showtunes (La Vie Boheme, anyone?).

  10. Learn to say no – I am a self-proclaimed people-pleaser. Growing up in a house where volunteering was not only encouraged, but expected, I always felt the need to help people. However, I’ve learned time & time again what burnout can do to your mental health. There will always be people wanting your help & needing your time, but once you learn your boundaries, don’t be afraid to say “not this time.” And don’t feel guilty!

  11. Fake it til you make it – Now, this doesn’t mean you should hide feelings or swallow your emotions. Instead, when you get up in the morning, you tell yourself that today is going to be a good day. Or if you just need today to feel crappy, then tomorrow will be great! By manifesting this happiness, you’re one step closer to actually living it.

  12. Talk to someone – You know how good it feels when you vent to your fellow Hubbies about your crazy employees? Well don’t be afraid to talk about your anxieties or depressive moments with your mom, your best friend, or a therapist. If you’ve never gone to therapy, I recommend that you give it a try. Afraid of taking the leap? Well one of my favorite celebs, Kristen Bell, has been vocal in many interviews about how much she loves personal & couples therapy.

  13. Ask for help – Sometimes, you’re at rock bottom & you can’t comprehend how you could check off any of these things on the list. Sometimes, you don’t think you can even get out of bed. Sometimes, you need help. Whether that means you go to a doctor, therapist, support group, or ask your spouse to share your burden, don’t feel bad to ask for help. Life is hard & no one can do it alone so don’t try to think you can. And of course, if you are having any suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

     Photo Credit: Love, Poppy Jewels

  14. Laughter – One of my favorite (slightly cynical) sayings is “If I’m not laughing, I’d be crying.” Personally, I have Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, and Kristen Wiig to thank for pulling me out from some bad moods. Their videos & skits never fail to distract me & lift my mood. You often hear that laughter is the best medicine. Well, it sometimes is (don’t believe me, click here). That’s science, baby!


Do you have other tips or tricks to help you? I’d LOVE to hear them! Comment with them on Facebook or give me a shout at [email protected]

Featured Image Photo Credit: Bad Habit Boutique

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Beth Leahy
Beth Leahy
[email protected]

Beth is our Director of Operations & Events at The Boutique Hub, and she's almost as passionate about small businesses as she is about helping people. When she isn't working, she's busting out her dance moves, buying more pairs of shoes, and (unsuccessfully) training her energetic golden retriever.