One of the best things you can do for your business is creating a habit of self-care. Oftentimes, running a business can be time consuming with plenty of tasks to complete before the day is over. Perhaps your day-to-day includes putting on different hats and taking over different responsibilities to manage the logistics and efficiency of your business. Nonetheless, it can consist of normalizing burnout and putting your mental health in the back burner. According to Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, an expert in elite identity constructs, the message many entrepreneurs have internalized is the outdated prescription of ‘no pain, no gain.’ Meaning that “success is purely measured in quantitative returns, return on investment and profit; and not the qualitative needs of their wellbeing.”
How does your mental hygiene look like when you are running a business, or building it from the ground up? How does your passion and drive become affected when your mental health is neglected? According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, 49% of entrepreneurs deal with mental health issues directly while only 32% of others experienced them. Entrepreneurs are exponentially more likely to suffer from mental health problems. Chronic anxiety, burnout, and insomnia are among many aspects people glamorize or fetishize in a constant work environment.
As entrepreneurs it is important to prioritize your mental health, not only to drive solutions forward, or to continue to project optimism to your co-founders and employees – but because it is human to give yourself the same care, structure, and routine you once invested in building something you care about. Your “startup mode” leadership dispositions start with caring for yourself and healthy striving. Here are eight tips to keep in mind to prioritize your mental hygiene, while you passionately run your business:
- Be honest about what you are experiencing:
Running a business takes a lot of responsibility and accountability on a daily basis. Increasing your mental resilience takes being completely transparent about what you are being overwhelmed by. Normalizing and discussing when you have bad days is an important part of self reflection and mental wellness. Being honest about the stress load you are currently dealing with, burnout, or depression is completely valid and human. It also creates a heightened level of self awareness that can help you tackle these problems at their core.
- Consider counseling:
Oftentimes, people believe there has to be something inherently wrong to seek therapy. However, therapy can also grant entrepreneurs an avenue to identify with a professional what is currently not working. If you are spending an exponential amount of time alone building your brainchild, it is inevitable that you might also be minimizing the amount of time you were investing in pleasurable parts of your previous routine. Having access to a therapist and speaking to them about creating a plan that fits your new routine can be pivotal to your mental state and drive. It can prevent you from being too project focused and allow you to keep a quality of life you are comfortable with.
- Keep track of changes in your sleep, diet and exercise habits
While acknowledging that there is an outsized stress and sacrifice that comes with entrepreneurship, understanding the mechanics of yourself is more important. It is okay to be self aware that there is a consistent list of things that are always at stake for you and your startup. But it is important to not dismiss the daily activities you do in order to keep your health on track. Self awareness training of the daily activities that fuel your day-to-day can lead to better decision making in your business. Being keen on keeping track of these changes could help you potentially develop a plan that will allow you to prioritize your sleep, diet, and exercise habits.
- Draw clear boundaries
Running a startup as an entrepreneur can often mean that making a distinction between your work life and times you should be present doing anything else non work related can seem impossible. Perhaps you are still running a mental checklist of things that need to get done the next day. Or maybe you are checking your work emails in a moment you are supposed to be with friends and family. Either way, not drawing these clear boundaries between work time and self-care time is not good for you, or for the relationship with those closest to you. Becoming self aware and learning to draw clear boundaries between work hours, and non-work related hours can be pivotal to reducing your stress levels, and also improving your quality of life.
- Cultivate daily gratitude practice
Daily gratitude practice can often help gear and redirect our thoughts. It’s easy to have tunnel vision about being passionate for your startup equating to constant stress. However this kind of thinking can often hinder our mental health. What have you struggled with to get where you are? How is your reality different than where you were before? Talking, writing, or even meditating about the things you are thankful for can be a great habit when finding time for self care.
- Rely on your support system
Creating an ecosystem of support is pivotal for any entrepreneur’s well being. Perhaps being your own boss, and of your employees initially means you cannot find people who often check up on your mental health needs. Your support system can play a key role in your life, whether those are your friends, family, or even your colleagues. Relying on the mentors in your life can also help you have a more effective network of support and navigate internal struggles better.
- Carve out self-care time
While self-care time looks different for everyone, it is important as an entrepreneur to have a clear picture of what it is that makes you happy outside of seeing your business thrive. What are leisure activities that you enjoy? Perhaps simply doing less is a form of self-care for you that allows you to go back to yourself and reflect. What ever it is, making sure you are carving out time to do these particular things is an avenue that will not thwart your growth and success in your business. Enjoying that process instead of the result is also a form of restorative health practice. It will allow you to show up as the best version of yourself when needed.
- Identify triggers
Identifying triggers that make you tense and stressed is also incredibly important for keeping your mental health in check. It allows you to be more mindful of your mental hygiene, and also to keep note of things that will cause you to stop making time for doing the things you once enjoyed doing outside of your work hours. Whether it is change in sleep habits, apathy, or just withdrawing yourself from spending time with loved ones. Sometimes the pressure can cause one to shut the world out, and it is important to be wary of those triggers so you can develop a plan that will allow the passion you have for your business to not be affected by outside stressors. Knowing what those triggers are is a qualitative consideration.