You likely started your own business to escape the rat race and have a better work/life balance. Unfortunately, the stresses of building your own brand and being the decision maker for multiple people can have a mental health impact on even the calmest person.
Mental health is something a lot of people overlook. If you were having chest pains, you’d go get an echocardiogram. If you broke your wrist, you’d go to the hospital. However, if you feel a little depressed or at your breaking point, you will probably ignore the symptoms and keep pressing on.
Why Is It Important to Prioritize Mental Health?
Mental health impacts every area of our lives, from our physical well-being to how productive we are at work. The 2022 State of Mental Health in America report looked at data from adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers found approximately 19.86% of adults experienced some type of mental illness–around 50 million people. Struggles ranged from depression to suicidal thoughts.
You can trade one type of stress for another but if you don’t address the root cause of your mental health struggles, you risk becoming overwhelmed. Once you fail to make your health a priority, everything and everyone around you suffers, including your business.
Heading into the Christmas season, you’ll find yourself even busier than other times of year. It’s vital to prioritize mental health now so you can deal with the added stress of increased sales. You can easily improve your mental health while still running a successful company.
1. Listen to Your Inner Voice
Only you can know when you hit your breaking point. You have to learn to tune into your own internal dialogue. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Think about how you’re feeling. Are there elements in your life causing added stress that you can remove or take a break from?
Don’t be afraid to speak up when you need help. Ask a manager to take over some of your duties or delegate to various employees. Pay attention to your needs as an individual. If you fail to thrive in life, your business will fail to succeed as well.
2. Start a Workout Routine
Forming a new habit and sticking with it can help your brain know it’s time to start a new healthy trend. Your brain responds to rewards, so train it to enjoy exercise time. If you exercise long enough, your body releases endorphins, which can improve mood.
Regular physical activity improves health on multiple levels. Making it part of your routine is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve mental health. When you’re feeling down, knowing your next step can also help you keep moving forward.
3. Choose Your Circle
Surround yourself with upbeat, positive people. Choose a close circle of trusted confidants. You want people you can turn to when life goes topsy turvy. Look for those who won’t judge you or share your confidence with others.
Your circle should include a mentor who’s gone before you and knows how to handle the ups and downs of running a business.
4. Nourish Your Body
What you eat can impact the way your brain functions as well. Make sure you get plenty of antioxidants for overall better health. Eat brain food such as eggs, healthy fats, proteins and fruits high in antioxidants.
It’s easy to get so busy working on a project that you forget to eat. Make it a point to have three meals a day. Set a reminder on your mobile phone if you have to. Use alarms and reminders. Carry protein bars with you. Make sure you stay well hydrated so you feel your very best at all times.
Anytime you feel yourself raging out of control, stop and ask if you are tired, hungry or thirsty. Some people have ups and downs with their blood sugar, even if not considered a diabetic. Making sure yours stays steady can go a long way toward keeping your brain happier.
5. Take a Break
More than 50% of Americans fail to use their paid time off (PTO) each year. Entrepreneurs are even less likely to take a break from their business due to fears things might fall apart without them there to oversee the work.
Not giving yourself PTO as a business owner adds to all the stress of running a business. If you finally go somewhere with your family and check your phone every 15 minutes, you aren’t really taking a break.
Build in vacation time where you truly unplug from work. Trust your staff to keep things running smoothly while you’re away. You may not feel comfortable taking a two-week vacation but perhaps you could take a long weekend.
6. Delegate Work
One of the biggest challenges of running your own company is the massive amount of work you have to complete in a day. You likely wear many different hats as an entrepreneur. Solopreneurs may have even more work to do.
One thing you can do to reduce stress is delegate work to others. If you are a one-person team, go ahead and find some contractors and enlist their help with things you can hand off easily. Let a graphic artist design your next ad, for example.
Seek Professional Help
If you try the tips above and still feel depressed, overwhelmed or confused, seek professional help from a mental health professional. There’s no shame in taking medication to feel better, seeking therapy or learning new coping techniques to help you lead a happy, fully productive life.
Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.