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Stress Awareness Month: Almost two thirds of SME owners suffering from stress after Covid-19

4-minute read

Simply Business

Simply Business

1 April 2021

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Stress Awareness Month: Almost two thirds of SME owners suffering from stress after Covid-19

  • 3.7m small business owners are suffering from stress after Covid-19
  • 3.3m have been affected by anxiety and 1.8m have experienced depression
  • Four in five (82%) SME owners admit the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health and one in five (19%) say their mental health is in a bad place
  • SME owners turning to exercise, nature and gardening for respite from Covid-related stress

To mark Stress Awareness Month, a study by small business insurer Simply Business reveals at least 3.7 million SME owners are suffering from stress after Covid-19.

Furthermore, 3.3 million SME owners have been affected by anxiety and 1.8 million have experienced depression as the pandemic takes its toll on small business owners’ mental health. It comes as the majority have been forced to temporarily close for sustained periods throughout the last year. Overall, over half of SME owners (55%) say they have experienced anxiety since the start of the pandemic. Three in five (62%) have been affected by stress with symptoms caused, or exacerbated by Covid-19.

In total, four in five (82%) SME owners admitted the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, while a fifth (19%) describe their current mental wellbeing as ‘bad’. Worryingly, almost half (47%) are concerned about their mental health.

With this year’s Stress Awareness Month focused on ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’, small business owners will be looking forward to getting their businesses back up and running from April 12th and May 17th onwards, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

Reasons to be encouraged Reassuringly, SME owners are taking steps to improve their wellbeing this year. Two in three (67%) are spending more time outside and in nature where possible, while a further 64% plan to exercise more and dedicate more time to connecting with friends and family (also 64%). A third (32%) are using reading as a tool to improve their wellbeing.

Other methods SME owners are looking to include gardening (27%), mindfulness and meditation (25%) as well as exploring arts and crafts (21%).

Hope springs eternal SME owners also have an encouraging level of optimism when thinking about the year ahead. Two in five (39%) are optimistic about the economy picking up and well over a third feel hopeful about the future of their business (36%), and jobs and orders picking back up (35%).

A third (31%) are feeling positive about their business’ ability to adapt to these new conditions, and a fifth (21%) are looking forward to learning new skills.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “This Stress Awareness Month we should not forget the small business owners who’ve had to shut up shop, put their incomes on hold, and navigate the uncertainty surrounding their business, for the last 12 months. SMEs have been among the hardest hit from Covid-19 and the impact the pandemic has had on small business owners is on an unforeseen scale. 82% of SME owners report poor mental health, 62% have suffered from stress and 55% have experienced anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

“All six million of the UK’s SMEs are hugely important to our local communities and wider economy. Small businesses account for 99% of all businesses, contributing trillions of pounds a year in turnover. It’s vital for our collective recovery that small businesses survive, which makes the findings of our research even more concerning.

“The good news is that small business owners now have a reopening date in sight, which will be providing manythem with optimism, clarity, and the ability to plan.

“As small business owners get back up and running, it’s vital they take a break from time to time to recharge the batteries. This self-care could be the catalyst for future, sustainable growth."

Simply Business has launched its Better for Business wellbeing hub for SME owners – working with a range of experts to bring free tailored resources and wellbeing tips to the self-employed.

Tips on managing stress from Clinical Psychologist Dr Hazel Harrison:

1. Move your body
Your stress response changes the chemicals in your body and gets you ready to fight or run. This response can be great at protecting you from danger in short sharp bursts, but is often less helpful to you when you continually feel stressed.

Moving your body can be a good way to harness the stress response, change the chemicals in your body, and ultimately help you to feel happier and calmer.

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going for a long run or doing a high intensity workout. Cleaning the house, walking up and down the stairs, or dancing in the kitchen are all forms of exercise.

Find an exercise you enjoy and give it a go.

2. Understand it… and learn from it
Stress makes us want to avoid situations and try hard not to think about them. But sometimes, the most helpful thing you can do is to recognise you’re feeling stressed and try to understand what might be causing it.

It might help to talk it through with someone you trust, or to write about your thoughts and feelings. Doing this may also help you learn more about what stress feels like to you and what the triggers are. This could help you to navigate stressful challenges in new ways.

3. Know what you can – and can’t – control
You may feel like everything is out of your control right now, and that can be a scary experience. But you do still have some control.

You may find it helpful to make a list of what you can control, and what you can’t. Sometimes you may notice that you’re wasting your precious energy on things you can’t do anything about, rather than focusing on the areas you can influence.

Knowing what you can control will help you know where to focus your energy and give you back a sense of control again.


Methodology: Data: Survey of 765 small business owners from across the UK, conducted December - January 2020. 62% of the 6 million SME owners in the UK equates to 3.7 million
55% of the 6 million SME owners in the UK equates to 3.3 million
30% of the 6 million SME owners in the UK equates to 1.8 million

For further information, please contact:

Frank PR
[email protected]

About Simply Business

Simply Business is one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and insuring over 900,000 small businesses and landlords across Britain.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. Using the power of tech and data to create the best possible customer experiences, Simply Business employs over 800 people across offices in London, Northampton, and Boston in the US.

Owing to its internal underwriting capability, Simply Business can cover over 1,000 trade types – ranging from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. An accredited B Corp for their positive social impact, Simply Business has also been voted the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For twice in a row.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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