In honor of World
Mental Health Day on October 10th, I want to discuss the
importance of taking care of yourself as an entrepreneur.
Oftentimes, as an entrepreneur, taking care of your own
mental health can feel like the last thing on your list. In an environment
where you’re focused on creating a successful business, it’s easy to put your
well-being on the backburner. Some may even see this as a badge of honor.
The numbers are concerning. A
report found that 72% of entrepreneurs experience some type of mental
health issue and are “significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of
depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance-abuse conditions (12%), and bipolar
diagnosis (11%).” Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs feel the need to hide these
issues, for fear that it will affect their business and their personal lives.
Thankfully, the conversation around mental health is
shifting. Healthcare professionals are moving away from a separation of mind
and body to an integration, understanding that mental health is just as
important as physical health. Companies are creating empathetic policies that encourage
a more open and understanding workplace. Most importantly, people all over
the world are working to erase the stigma behind mental health issues,
police officers, and Florida
If you’re an entrepreneur or startup founder (or just want
to concentrate more on your well-being), here are my top tips for balancing
your mental health with your growing business and working through the “founder’s
1. Leave space to reflect.
Throughout your week, schedule time
to simply hit the pause button. Take this time to breathe and reflect on your
week. What have you accomplished? Where can you improve? Ask yourself these
questions, but be sure to speak to yourself in a kind way. We are often our own
worst critic, and it’s important to recognize that harsh self-talk is linked
to depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.
This time for self-reflection is essential for everyone, but especially if your schedule is jam-packed. In a start-up world that’s focused on external factors like funding, hiring, and planning, it’s easy to ignore internal factors. When the internal is ignored, recognizing and managing emotions can be difficult. It’s important to prioritize time and stick to your schedule.
2. Pay attention to burnout.
In the world of entrepreneurship,
burnout is a real issue. The World Health
Organization has recognized burnout as an official
disorder. Oftentimes the symptoms are ignored or minimized, which can lead
to more worrisome issues down the line.
If you notice symptoms
such as feeling cynical about your job or emotionally drained by your work, don’t
ignore them. They are an important sign that you need a break, and you should
honor that by taking some time off to recalibrate, even if it’s just for a day
or two. You will come back to your work refreshed.
3. Manage and delegate.
Entrepreneurs wear several hats,
especially when they’re near the starting line. Over time, you may feel like
your life is a constant juggling act, so it’s imperative to find balance.
Manage your time and stick to a schedule to alleviate any stress, and delegate
If you find that certain tasks
cause you more stress than others, find ways to change the tasks to be less
demanding, or find someone on your team you can delegate them to. If that is
not an option, consider outsourcing to an agency or contractor.
4. Be mindful of your physical health.
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete
to be an entrepreneur, but it’s important to treat your body well. Is your diet
giving you the energy and nutrients you need throughout the day? Are you making
time for moderate exercise? Unfortunately, running from meeting to meeting
doesn’t count. Physical exercise is crucial to mental health. Any type of exercise
will help promote improved mental health, however the social aspects of team
sports have the
Don’t focus on perfection. Instead,
do what you can to eat nutritious foods and stay active. If you’re able to hire
a personal trainer and nutritionist, do so. If that isn’t possible for you at
this time, there are a plethora of resources online that can help you get where
you need to be, such as Lifesum
for nutrition and Fitocracy for
5. Find support.
You may feel alone in this, but
that is far from the truth. As mentioned before, 72% of entrepreneurs have
reported dealing with some mental health issue. Many of them have created
communities and groups that deal with these problems together and support each
other. If you feel comfortable, join one of these communities and learn from
others who are dealing with similar issues. Search online or ask your network
for these communities or use an online service like 7 Cups of Tea to find anonymous support.
On a related note, consider finding
a therapist who works for you, online or
in-person. There are mental health professionals who specialize in executive
leadership, and they can help you through all the ups and downs that you may
Mental health does not discriminate; in fact, it affects one in four people
globally. It isn’t always easy to talk about, but that’s rapidly changing
due to increasing awareness and leaders who are open about their journey. By
prioritizing your own health, you can inspire and encourage others on your team
and in your community to do the same.