Small businesses and the self-employed: moving out of the pandemic

The past year has been tricky for businesses of all sizes. It’s not surprising that the coronavirus pandemic – with its restrictions, lockdowns and worries – has taken its toll on our emotional and mental health.

For small business owners, freelancers and the self-employed across all sectors, it’s been a time of prolonged uncertainty. Uncertainty around finances, rules, and ultimately their livelihoods and futures.

The truth is, we’re facing a mental health crisis. Simply Business recently surveyed almost 800 small business owners in the UK and found that 82% reported poor mental health in the last 12 months. In fact, more than half of all business owners suffered from anxiety, 62% have been affected by stress, and 30% experienced depression. It’s clear that prioritising mental health should be at the forefront of recovery after the pandemic.

So, if you’re a small business owner or freelancer, how can you take care of your wellbeing and those around you? Below, we’ll talk you through some particular resources you’ll find helpful, but first, a gentle reminder of some of the basics that really do make a difference.

Set some boundaries

As tricky as it may feel, it’s really important to set some boundaries for yourself. Scheduling time in your day to take a break away from your work and screens will make a huge difference.

Take care

Stress and sleep are a vicious cycle – when we’re stressed, our sleep is impacted, and when we’re tired, we can become stressed more easily. Simple steps to help us nod off, such as daily exercise, getting some sunlight and eating well, all play a part in reducing stress levels.

Talk it out

Whether it’s a friend, colleague, family or community member, talking really does help. We promise.

We know that sometimes – even pre-pandemic – if you work for yourself it’s tricky to take a break from work, and often it can be hard to focus on wellbeing. We also know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to supporting mental health at work. So, we’ve chosen some ideas to support you, as a freelancer or small business owner, in whatever you do.

Resources in this toolkit:


​Active mobile working

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Taking part in regular physical activity is one way of boosting your mood and looking after your health. This one-page PDF guide from Unilever explores ways that mobile and home workers can break up long periods of sitting without disrupting their work.