The life of an entrepreneur can often appear exciting, glamorous, fulfilling and rewarding. It can seem like entrepreneurs thrive in the face of challenges, achieve incredible things and often work from home doing what they love.
However, in many cases, being an entrepreneur can take a toll. Facing challenges regularly, like cash flow problems, hiring (and firing) staff and finding work/life balance, can cause stress, anxiety and depression. Achieving incredible things may be wonderful, but it can often take plenty of hard work and sacrifice. Working from home can be isolating and lonely.
The hidden dark side to being an entrepreneur is that it can actually have a serious impact on mental health. Before you decide to become an entrepreneur, it can be important to consider if you’ll be equipped and supported enough to maintain your mental health. And, if you’re already an entrepreneur, it might be helpful to implement our protective action tips below, so you can take good care of your wellbeing.
Entrepreneurs can be at risk of experiencing depression as a result of sacrificing sleep, self-care, healthy eating and exercise in order to work longer hours. It’s true that building a business can be really tough work and does often require more time than a regular job. However, to continue working to your best ability, it’s important that you learn how to prioritise your wellbeing. Create meaningful routines which help you stay active, eat regular meals, get enough sleep and take some time off to rest. Look at which activities you do in your business which may not be crucial (such as closing social media accounts which don’t perform well) so you can make more time for yourself to engage in activities which protect you from depression.
Sometimes, entrepreneurs can experience a low sense of self-worth because it’s tied up in the success of their business. If things are going well in their business, their self-worth soars, but when things aren’t going so well, their self-worth crashes.
It can be helpful to distinguish your personal self from your business, so you can maintain a healthy sense of self-worth, even when the business might be experiencing hard times. For example, you could remind yourself “I am not my business” or “Failure in my business does not mean that I am a failure.” You could even write these statements down and stick them up where they will remind you at important times when you may be prone to feeling low as a result of you business.
Research has shown that entrepreneurs can be addicted to their businesses and may be driven by a need to keep going, or obsessive thoughts about their business. Unfortunately, people who experience one type of addiction can also be prone to other types of addiction, such as substance abuse addictions or compulsive gambling.
By using positive coping mechanisms, such as self-care, meditation, exercise, or visiting a psychologist, entrepreneurs can protect themselves from developing unhealthy addictions. It may be helpful to create an action plan of positive coping mechanisms which you can easily follow when you’re feeling lost, low, or lonely.
Working from home may seem incredibly glamorous and ideal, but it can become an isolating experience. While entrepreneurs may have the ability to set their own hours, skip the commute and create their own home offices, they also tend to miss out on regular interactions with other people. Not to mention the fact that many entrepreneurs work long hours and may end up sacrificing their social lives!
Overall, working from home as an entrepreneur can be lonely and it’s important that you create (and use!) multiple support networks. Create a Facebook group with similar-minded entrepreneurs you can regularly check in with. Adopt a pet who can spend time with you. Join a mastermind. Work with a coach. Call your friends and family often and organise regular catch-ups in person.
Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to help relieve and prevent stress and anxiety. As an entrepreneur, you may be prone to worrying about cash flow, deadlines, emails, social media, employees, customers, and a range of other potential challenges! It can be incredibly beneficial to use mindfulness and meditation regularly to help you manage stress and anxiety and prevent them from becoming chronic mental health problems.
For example, you could try this simple breathing technique for several minutes each day: Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. As you inhale, feel the subtle movement of your chest and stomach rising and as you exhale, feel those areas deflating and becoming still for a moment before you take the next inhale.
How do you take care of yourself as an entrepreneur? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!