We don’t often talk about entrepreneurs mental health, rather focussing on the freedom of being your own boss to the opportunity to pursue your dreams, and the other myriad positives of launching your own business. But according to a 2020 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 70% of entrepreneurs experience mental health issues at some point in their careers, compared to just 48% of people in other professions. So what’s going on — and how can we work to buck the trend?
Being an entrepreneur is hard
According to the experts, there are lots of factors that can cause entrepreneurs mental health issues among the start-up community. For starters, being an entrepreneur is an emotional rollercoaster: you’ve got all the excitement of launching, followed by stress and sleepless nights once reality kicks in — not to mention the anxiety associated with imposter syndrome and wanting to succeed. On top of that, working for yourself can be lonely too, without the natural support networks that you might find in other workplaces.
If you’re one of a few people — or perhaps the only person — responsible for your start-up, it can be difficult to step back and make time for yourself. But if you don’t look after your health, both mentally and physically, then you’re setting yourself and your business up for trouble further down the line. So here are some things that you can do to promote wellbeing and avoid burnout as you navigate your journey.
First, experts recommend trying to cultivate healthy habits — both in your work life and when you’re away from your desk. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean waking up at the crack of dawn for a run every day. But things like meditation, healthy eating, regular exercise, and sleep hygiene can all help to promote a positive mental state. And when you feel relaxed and happy, it’s easier for you to cope with whatever challenges might come your way.
It’s also important to know when to switch off, even if your start-up is at a crucial stage. Because most of us get work-related information via our social media and mobile phones, it’s easy to slip into a state of always being ‘on’ — and never having any time to ourselves. If you can, step away from technology completely for at least a few hours before bed. And if you really can’t face that, make a promise to stop all work-related communication after a certain point.
If you struggle to let go at the end of a work day, improving your organisational structure can take a load off your mind. For example, a simple task managing app can help you keep track of everything that needs to be done, so you can wipe your mental slate clean. And a GoSolo Business Account will help you manage all your business expenses in one place, keeping financial stress to a minimum.
Finally, make sure that you’re not struggling alone. While it’s common to feel a lack of support at some stage in your journey, don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends. And if they’re unable to give you the help that you’re looking for, turn to fellow entrepreneurs for help. From mentorship schemes to start-up communities, there are plenty of people out there who know exactly what you’re going through and will be happy to share advice.
Finally, it’s important to recognise the signs of burnout: your body’s way of telling you that enough is enough. If you find yourself feeling exhausted and irritable, losing concentration and unable to get excited about your work, it’s time to take a break and focus on your mental health. While that might seem counter-productive, you’ll become much more efficient after taking some time to rest and reset, making it the best choice for your business overall.
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