On average, 72% of entrepreneurs struggle with their mental health and studies have shown that entrepreneurs are twice as likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression in their lifetimes.
Entrepreneurship is naturally associated with long hours, steely drive and constant hard work, all factors that if not managed properly, can contribute to poor mental health.
Just as a business must have time set aside to grow and nurture it, so must the health of the leader at its helm.
Here we list the top 5 ways that entrepreneurs can begin to look after their health, to better look after their business.
1) Accept negative feelings or outcomes
The key factors that make up entrepreneurial stress are financial worries, loneliness and uncertainty. Often when building their business, entrepreneurs live day to day and even when the business is established, still face pressures for the employees that come to depend on their jobs.
As part of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, there is an added risk element. Every step on the ladder, deal signed, or employee contracted could present risk later on and in this regard, entrepreneurs are constantly faced with high pressure, adrenaline-based gambles.
To counteract the constant worrying about negative outcomes or bad decisions, entrepreneurs are encouraged to take a few minutes in their day to meditate.
Meditation allows for entrepreneurs to refocus their thoughts, and accept any worries or anxieties they have, address them, and then work to let them go. This is a healthy cycle that prevents negative thoughts or feelings from hanging around and potentially exacerbating into bigger cycles of worry and stress.
2) Understand that you are not your business
For entrepreneurs, there is often the temptation to judge themselves by their business. If a business fails, they absorb full responsibility and deem themselves as failures in the process.
Other times, entrepreneurs fail to switch off and often neglect time with their friends and family, fearing that they must dedicate all their time to their work.
Entrepreneurs and business owners should work to understand that they are separate entities from their business. Entrepreneurs deserve to relax and turn the Out of Office on, just as their employees do and should seek to actively maintain a balance between work and their personal lives.
One recommended way to maintain this balance is to actively schedule their day. Keep work within working hours and ensure that once the evening comes, they have closed the laptop, switched the phone off and put their feet up to create the separation between their home and their business.
3) Create a support network
Just like an emerging business needs a viable support network to allow it to grow and be open to collaborative opportunities, entrepreneurs need support to help shoulder the highs and lows of the lifestyle.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle can be lonely and isolating. Friends and family are often unable to relate to the troubles and stresses, leaving entrepreneurs with nowhere to turn for advice, support or a safe place to vent.
An entrepreneurial ecosystem – as it is often referred to – is often comprised of fellow entrepreneurs and mentors, but can also extend out to suppliers and vendors, especially if your business is working with other startups.
Attending networking events especially for startups and small businesses can also be great places to meet like-minded people and not only create good business relationships, but personal ones too.
Being able to openly discuss issues, troubles and problems and get help and support, or even to just not feel isolated and alone can-do wonders for mental health.
4) Make sure your workplace is a healthy environment
If a business’s workplace is not a healthy environment, it will not promote good or healthy mental health for either its leader or its employees.
Healthy business environments are those which are open, supportive, constructive and collaborative. On an aesthetic level, employee workspaces are comfortable, with plenty of fresh air and natural lighting.
Meanwhile on a more personal level, good communication is maintained through having employees trained in mental health awareness. This creates an open forum for anyone that is struggling and ensures that any warning signs can be identified and addressed.
An open forum acts as a mini entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing for mental health to remain a key focus even in the wake of the initial hard work that is required to get a business off of the ground.
5) Remember to self-care
Most entrepreneurs are so busy rushing through their day that they forget to slow down and connect with themselves. Time out for ourselves is one of the best, free gifts we can ever give to ourselves and should be utilised as much as possible.
Self-care could involve a hobby, like fishing or gardening, or even just exercise at the gym or at home. If time really is of the essence, even a brisk twenty-minute walk can be enough to detach from external responsibilities and connect with ourselves internally.
When self-care is implemented into a daily, or regular, routine it can boost mental health by relaxing us through enjoying the things we love.
6) Consider your physical health
When looking after your mental health as a small entrepreneur it is also important to consider your physical health. It is crucial to invest in your health such as working out, getting health and eyeglass insurance for yourself and your team (more info), and eating a balanced diet. Diet is a huge part of your healthy routine that can impact your mental health. Alcohol for example is a substance that can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling lethargic and unable to work productively at home. Foods such as fruit and vegetables pack a punch of nutrients and they will help to keep your mind focused and on track when working for yourself. The healthier you are on the inside the happier you will be too.
7) Take time out
It is so important as an entrepreneur not to get caught up in the trap of burning out. It is all too easy to work and work to a point where you cannot function anymore – and this will do you no good. Instead, consider taking regular breaks to stimulate healing and allow you to carry on working for longer in a productive manner.
8) Escape into media
The arts have been the most amazing resource to all of us during the last year – and as a stressed entrepreneur the best thing you can do for a few hours is escape into a good book, a film, or music that you love. When you feel an overwhelming sense of stress or burnout, take the time to escape for a while and you will feel refreshed when you get back to work.
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