Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Entrepreneurship has been glorified because of the freedom and autonomy it entails. Upon surveying 65 different global economies, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor determined more than 582 million entrepreneurs all over the world.
For those braving the risk of owning a business, great authority also comes with great responsibility and challenges. All of which can take a toll on one’s mental wellbeing. According to Forbes, a staggering 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental health concerns versus 48% of non-entrepreneurs. Therefore, let’s look at the common mental health challenges faced by business owners and what they can do to achieve a better work-life balance.
Common mental health struggles of entrepreneurs
“It gets lonely at the top”. However, entrepreneurs would know that it can feel very lonely on the way there too. Sometimes, people around them fail to understand their non-traditional path. When friends and family fail to offer the needed support, entrepreneurs often go into the battle alone. Additionally, with COVID-19 lockdown measures, they have limited access to their partners and employees. All of which can feel extremely isolating.
High workload, pressure to keep up, financial concerns are at the top of the entrepreneur’s stress list. From product development to employee management, entrepreneurs carry the liability for everything that goes on in the business. As a result, they have the longest working hours and most stress of any occupational group.
Overtime, the aforementioned stressors lead to sleepless nights and skipped meals. Due to the lack of social resources, and to maintain a clean image, entrepreneurs are less likely to talk about their struggles too. This prolonged exposure to high stress situations can result in severe. burnout. Studies even show that entrepreneurs were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use conditions (12%) if these issues are left unaddressed.
Five mental wellness tips for entrepreneurs
1) Prioritize self-care
Because stress is such a commonality in this lifestyle, entrepreneurs need to have a solid self-care routine. A good routine is one that balances the effects of physical and mental stressors. This includes proper nutrition, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and adequate mindfulness practices.
2) Establish a good support system
Social support is a vital component to mental wellbeing. The key is to build a well-rounded support system that can address concerns on both personal and professional realms. Non-professional support includes making time for loved ones at home or friends. Whereas, mentors, business partners, other entrepreneurs, and mental health professionals can help you tackle professional hurdles.
3) Set clear boundaries
As work-from-home measures become increasingly common, it blurs the line between an entrepreneur’s work and life. During downtime, we continue to check emails, plan our to-dos, and worry about tomorrow’s pitch. Hence, entrepreneurs need to be very clear about when their work day starts and ends. For example, you can set up simple morning and evening routines, then notify your family and employees about them. These tactics not only serve as defined cut-offs but they also involve others to keep you accountable.
4) Practice pacing
The primary goal of any business is to grow, expand and achieve success as soon as possible. Hence, it’s understandable why entrepreneurs are tempted to sprint so that their business gets ahead of the curve. However, a study by Berkeley and Stanford* found that many tech start-ups fail due to premature scaling. Therefore, business owners might benefit from pacing their speed by taking a marathoners’ approach. This helps both entrepreneurs and their employees have a clearer perspective of business progress and goals. Which ultimately helps everyone make better decisions.
5) Find self-compassion
It’s common for entrepreneurs to attach their self-worth to the success of their business. More so since the Covid-19 pandemic, feelings of doubt and uncertainty are at an all time high for business owners. Hence, it’s a crucial time for hustling entrepreneurs to tap into their self-compassion. Research by the University of Texas* found that self-compassion is the key source of resilience and inner strength. All of which provides entrepreneurs a gentle and clear-sighted way of connecting with themselves, even in instances of failure and hurdles.
Entrepreneurs’ mental health is not just a matter of the entrepreneurs themselves. Their wellbeing has a ripple effect on their business, employees, and families. Therefore, by cultivating healthy work-life values, entrepreneurs are in better positions to drive meaningful businesses and ultimately build more fulfilling lives.
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