We all know what stress is and that tradespeople are far from immune to it – but here are some stats to get us going:
90% of tradespeople say they face stress every day
60% of tradespeople say there is a social stigma around talking about mental health
Stress, low mood and anxiety are the most commonly reported mental health conditions by tradespeople
The last year has been tough on everyone. But for those who work in trade industries, it’s been a turbulent time of making sense of the rules and how they apply to your business. There has been up and downs and huge amounts of uncertainty. If you weren’t struggling with stress before then, the chances are you have experienced a form of stress during the pandemic.
With that in mind, here are some tips and thoughts on dealing with stress, especially for tradespeople. Hopefully, something here will help you find more peace and balance in the coming months.
The Scale Of The Problem
The first thing to know is that you’re not alone. Stress and mental health related problems are widespread amongst tradespeople. A study from May 2020 revealed that more than 90% of the tradespeople questioned found their day to day work stressful, all the time. At the same time, 70% of those surveyed reported that they had recently experienced mental health issues. The most commonly reported problems were, unsurprisingly, stress, low mood, and anxiety.
Three in five tradespeople said that Coronavirus itself had adversely impacted their mental health.
It’s essential to have some awareness of the scale of the issue amongst tradespeople. It’s a collection of industries that can feel quite lonely. Many workers work on their own or in small groups. That can make it feel even more isolating if you’re struggling. So, the first thing to know is that you are not alone. You are not even in the minority. Most tradespeople feel stress in their line of work.
Remember That It’s Okay To Say No
Many tradespeople, especially those working for themselves feel a lot of pressure to take every job that comes along. However, not every job is worth it. This is true both in terms of money and mental energy.
Some jobs may not net you much profit, and others may not bring in any money at all. For fear of losing future business or for feeling sorry for a client in need, you might find yourself bending over backwards to squeeze these jobs in. However, always saying yes to jobs isn’t good business practice, and it’s certainly not good for your mental health.
Saying no to work that isn’t worth the time, or to clients who are more trouble than they’re worth will give you a feeling of control. Saying no is a powerful way to take back the reins and prevent you from dealing with stress that you don’t need.
Clients worth having will understand why you’re turning down a job. The ones who don’t are unlikely to be worth keeping, so you’re saving yourself trouble down the line.
It can feel like there isn’t enough time in the week for another task, but planning can free up more time and reduce stress. It’s common amongst tradespeople for feelings of pressure to worsen as the week wears on. The further into the week you get, the more problems have arisen, the more things have fallen through, and the more bills come due.
By getting ahead and planning everything out, you’re better able to deal with the unexpected. Try to plan out your client bookings, marketing strategies and bill payments months ahead rather than weeks. With longer-term plans in place, you can take small steps every week to move towards these goals.
Planning ahead like this gives you more flexibility to deal with a situation when problems arise. If your planning only goes as far as the end of the week, it doesn’t give you space to make adjustments when you need to.
Delegate When You Can
If you’re running your own business, then the temptation to do everything yourself can be hard to resist. But, that way lies burnout. There are a few different options that are worth exploring.
If you don’t already have an apprentice then getting one is a low-cost option to get some extra help. If you do already have staff, then make use of them. Recognise the tasks which you can delegate, so you can focus on running your business and doing the tasks that add value to your business. This will make your team feel valued and take some of the weight off your shoulders.
If extra help isn’t an option for you, look into ways to use technology to make your life easier. Accountancy, invoicing, budgeting, marketing, time management, and client inquiries are things you can find solutions for. For example, Workever can reduce time spent on admin and scheduling while enhancing customer service.
If you’re not using tools to manage these things yet, then it’s worth the time to do some research.
Prioritise Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
Ignoring your stress doesn’t make it go away. Just pushing through and hoping that things will get better if given enough time is a sure-fire way to invite a breakdown. It is vital that you make your wellbeing a priority.
There are several different options you can try to help you do this. But the most important is to make sure you are taking breaks from work. You should have at least one full day away from work every week and plan extended breaks at least twice a year. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything at all, just take time to recharge away from work.
A great option to try for managing your mental health is mindfulness. It’s a technique that helps you focus on how you’re feeling so that you can address issues before they become overwhelming. It’s an excellent option for tradespeople because you can do it anywhere and you only need 5 minutes. There are loads of great apps that can guide you through it.
One big reason why mindfulness is such an important tool is that you might not recognise the symptoms of stress. This can help you catch the signs early. If you want to learn more Mental Health UK have a great guide which gives some insight into how different mental health concerns and stress can feel.
Be Open About Your Struggles
One of the big problems facing many tradespeople is the culture of these sorts of jobs. There is a feeling that it’s not acceptable to talk about mental health or show signs of weakness. In fact, 60% of tradespeople believe that there is a social stigma attached to speaking about mental health.
But, talking about your concerns is the first step in improving the situation. If you need help and don’t feel you can turn to anyone around you, you can find some great resources here at Mental Health UK and Clic.