Entrepreneurs are known for their 60-hour workweeks and their go-getter attitude. Although many of us consider ourselves “mentally strong”, this doesn't mean that we don't take time to take care of our mental health. What are some ways to keep ourselves sane, literally? Read to know more.
Entrepreneurship is a journey that's both demanding and rewarding at the same time. Like the fish who try to swim against the tide, people who want to run their own businesses and be their own bosses try to break the status quo. This requires a lot of grit and mental strength.
Despite the success that most entrepreneurs face, it is important to know that there's a possible trade-off–and that is the risk of stress and mental health disorders. Being mentally strong or seeing the “bright side” to everything does not necessarily spare you from the potential problems that can happen when your experiences as an entrepreneur trigger health problems in the long run.
What are some of the common mental health problems of entrepreneurs?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Persistent stressors in an entrepreneur's life can trigger or aggravate a condition called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. GAD can appear with other mood problems or personality disorders. It is often characterized by:
- Extreme anxiety or reaction to stress over life situations. Reactions can sometimes feel largely disproportionate to the conflict at times.
- Overthinking and always thinking of worst case scenarios
- Inability to let go of worries or uncertainties in situations
At times, Generalized Anxiety Disorder has physical symptoms as well. Some entrepreneurs find themselves experiencing fatigue, insomnia, muscle tension, panic attacks, or irritability.
Major Depressive Disorder
Did you know that Major Depressive Disorder or clinical depression is a condition characterized by extremely low moods that can interfere with a person's life. Surprisingly, depression is a common mental health condition for entrepreneurs, and yet it can have serious risks. Depression can sometimes be caused by problems in the business, constant stress, or other personal problems on top of daily responsibilities. Some of the characteristics of Major Depressive Disorder include:
- Having a sad or anxious mood for most of the time
- Feeling hopeless
- Having a pessimistic attitude
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of appetite or excessive eating
- Lack of interest in daily activities or hobbies
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
The reason why depression poses a serious risk for entrepreneurs and for everyone who suffers from it is that it can often trigger self-harm. In severe cases it can also trigger suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are suffering from suicidal thoughts or self-harm, it is best to seek help right away.
Substance Use Disorder
Substance use problems are going widespread proportionately as people suffer from mental health problems. Often, the use of substances such as alcohol or drugs serve as a coping mechanism for stressors and life problems experienced by entrepreneurs. Others may find themselves uncontrollably drinking, addicted to fentanyl, stimulants or other drugs. When things go haywire or some unexpected tragedy happens, people often feel like they have no one to turn to, and substances may temporarily relieve the pain.
Some signs of Substance Use Disorder include:
- Inability to stop substance use even with several attempts
- Loss of interest in daily activities and hobbies
- Extremely preoccupied with substance use
- Easily agitated, chance of personality
- Physical symptoms such as dryness of skin, weight loss, or having an “unhealthy” appearance
What are some ways to stay mentally fit as an entrepreneur?
Understand the principle of work-life balance.
Just like an athlete is incapable of running a marathon when he is not healthy, entrepreneurs cannot succeed without caring for their health first. Yes, it is important to strive and do your best to have gains in your business, but it is equally crucial to achieve a sustainable work-life balance.
When you experience mental health problems that interfere with your daily life and work, it is time to take steps to reduce your hours of work. You need to set aside time for rest and leisure as well.
Manage your time wisely
Another cause of unnecessary stress in an entrepreneur's life is the lack of proper time management. Some people think that the more hours they put in work equals productivity. This is very far from the truth–when it comes to business, the most important asset you have is time. Thus, you need to spend it wisely because unlike money, time cannot be retrieved if lost.
Some ways to manage your time wisely is the use of the 80-20 or Pareto principle. It involves focusing your time and energy on things that produce results. You can also have visual schedules and focus keepers to help you stay on track of your daily goals.
Incorporate physical activity
Physical activity for entrepreneurs can bring a lot of benefits to the mind and the body. Research shows that just having 20-30 minutes of daily exercise can help increase blood flow, improve mood swings, provide better focus, and improve overall health. Something simple as walking, doing stretches, or having a light cardio workout in the morning can be done even by the busiest people.
Many entrepreneurs would say, “But I have no time for that!” Remember, there's no such thing as having no time. What you prioritize is what you give your time to. So if you spend time in social media, playing video games, or mindlessly snacking, then it gives away what you really prioritize.
Leverage your resources
A good entrepreneur isn't someone who does all the work. As mentioned earlier, time is the most important asset, and this is why entrepreneurs should learn how to leverage their resources. Leveraging resources means automating processes or scaling up the business to make a maximum return of profits.
You can leverage your efforts by automating work through technology. You can leverage your time by delegating repetitive tasks to your team and focus only on the major decision-making steps. This can help lessen the stress that you may encounter, which will keep you mentally fit.
Staying successful means staying mentally fit
Keeping yourself mentally fit may be challenging as an entrepreneur, but you must know your stress triggers and remember the actionable steps to avoid them.
Your success also lies on your mental and overall health–so rest, manage your time wisely, and find ways to leverage the resources that you have not just for your business, but for yourself and your loved ones.
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.