Daily pressures, team responsibilities, and financial stressors can make any entrepreneur understandably stressed. When you’re the one in charge, anything less than full-blown success could land you in hot water with your clients, limit your self-confidence, and keep you from your goals. Therefore, tending to your mental health as an entrepreneur is crucial; if you don't take care of yourself there won't be much left over to drive your business forward.
Below, we'll explore the importance of maintaining optimal mental health during the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life so that you can stay focused, productive, and successful no matter what obstacles come your way.
Mental health and entrepreneurship
The pressure of being an entrepreneur can shake the foundations of even the most level-headed people. We’re in an unprecedented age where we can know any information we want at the click of a button. Some even say we know more in a week than our ancestors knew in a lifetime. Insanity? Maybe. But it's our reality... and it can mess with our mental health.
Since we're able to know everything that's happening across the globe, we also know everything (both good and bad) that’s being said about our own businesses across social media platforms, websites, Google, etc. The anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in people, jarring our self-confidence. Being constantly bombarded with new information can wreak havoc on our nervous systems and lead to mental health problems down the road.
According to a Xero survey, over 92% of small business owners report having an uptick in mental health problems in the last two years alone due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Common mental disorders among entrepreneurs include depression, ADHD, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and more.
The bottom line? You aren't alone if you’re dealing with a mental health disorder as an entrepreneur. Here are a few reasons your mental health may be suffering.
What contributes to poor mental health in entrepreneurs
Loneliness. Entrepreneur life can get lonely at times, especially if you are a solopreneur or aren’t in regular contact with your team or business partner. This isolation can lead to depressive episodes where you’re wallowing in your own stressors.
Fear of failure. Most if not all entrepreneurs are afraid of failure. Some are able to push through anyway, others may find themselves reverting to anxious thoughts that can take over and hinder future success.
Fear of success. This is a topic that definitely is not talked about enough. As entrepreneurs, we want to succeed but fail to acknowledge that success means we must also change. As humans, we understand change is a part of life and some people are able to recognize in their subconscious that this change is good. However, many see this change as an assault on the homeostasis they’ve created for themselves. Success quite literally feels like a danger, keeping them from moving forward and possibly creating mental blocks that lead to a decline in mental health.
Multiple stressors. Both experienced and new entrepreneurs have to dodge various stressful events on the road to success. Whether you feel bogged down by obstacles to receiving capital for your business idea, are attempting to boost revenue, or are dealing with personal or family issues, stressful situations can hinder our nervous systems and create mental health problems.
If you find the above factors are interfering with your daily life to the point where it’s difficult to function, you may have a condition that can be diagnosed by a professional then determine the best course of treatment. However, there are ways you can cope with your mental health alongside this professional to sustain your mental health as an entrepreneur.
3 ways to boost your mental health as an entrepreneur
Watch how you speak to yourself
Affirmations in the mirror seem like hokum to some people and depending on what influencer you talk to, it may be just that. While you may not have to go that far, it’s crucial we watch how we speak to ourselves. Your inner dialogue could be making or breaking your success.
For example, let’s say you wake up late and miss part of your meeting with a new client. If you immediately start telling yourself what a failure you are as you’re getting ready to go into the meeting, you’re reaffirming something you’re afraid of… which can lead to actual failure with this client. What you say matters. Your body and mind are listening to your thoughts and retaining that self-talk. Try being gentle with yourself, as you would a child or a mentee, and watch how your confidence changes during stressful events.
Build a team or support system
It's easy to center your life around your business and forget to find like-minded people that can help you through the process of building your brand. Look for your support system in Facebook groups, slide into like-minded entrepreneurs’ DMs, and comment on posts in line with your values. Humans are social creatures and when we don’t have anyone to connect with, this loneliness may exacerbate our mental health issues.
Make tiny changes
When our mental health is low, tasks from updating our books to reaching out to new clients can feel like monsters we’d rather hide from than face head-on. This is when we can revert to old patterns and habits. For example, we may watch IG Reels or TikToks when we want a dopamine boost instead of tending to the task at hand. While this isn’t indicative of a mental health issue, it does mean that we’ve built up some unhealthy habits for ourselves.
Instead of searching for distractions from our tasks, take up some healthy habits for your mental health like sitting for five minutes in meditation, taking a simple walk in nature, or drinking an adrenal cocktail for extra minerals (recipes here!). These are simple steps that, over time, can contribute to more optimal mental health.
As an entrepreneur, taking care of your mental health should be at the top of your priority list alongside your daily responsibilities. It’s not something you can address once and then place on the back burner -- it requires continuous attention. Want more CEO lifestyle tips? Check out this blog with meditation classes to take a break during your day.