Small business operators like market traders are in particular danger of developing mental health issues according to a US study and when you look at stress factors for Queen Victoria market traders it makes a lot of sense.
The study found that entrepreneurs were 30% more likely to suffer depression than everyday people. And it is the very factors that often first attracted us to retailing that are the cause. It is the stress created by striving for success, chasing goals, gambling on outcomes, and often seeking perfection in what we do. It is pushing ourselves, going it alone, and the feeling of self esteem (or more critically the lack of it) that influences our everyday working lives.
And right at the moment it is the feeling that we are not completely in control – slaves to consumer sentiment, constantly changing technology and the slow ponderous progress of those in charge of change.
On the one hand we wouldn’t have it any other way. We need to be in charge of our destiny, we get a rich buzz from everyday opportunities. On the other hand we are victims to the frustrations that exist particularly when times are tough.
One trader described his frustrations to me recently by saying that he can handle the general downturn at present. He knew when he signed on for retailing that there would be tough times. He knows that he has to tighten the belt while always looking for changes that might be opportunities. But one thing really gets to him. It is the time between customers. That long period when he has to keep a smile on his face and a positive attitude when in truth nobody loves him. He admits that is a ridiculously emotional response and laughs it off but most traders will understand what he is getting at.
This article may seem to be a ramble through the obvious – we are in tough times. But its aim is to illustrate that many of us are in the same situation. Some of us will need to make hard decisions about our futures. The important thing is that we realise we are not alone. We do need to be open about our feelings with those around us and we need to take advantage of the many forms of professional help that are available to traders. We are in a high risk group for mental stress and it just makes good sense to manage the risk.
Are You OK?