You're an entrepreneur. You're used to long hours, intense pressure, and tight deadlines. But what happens when your work takes a toll on your mental health?
Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet is often ignored in the business world. As an entrepreneur, it's important to be aware that mental health can affect your business and take steps to ensure that you're taking care of yourself mentally and physically.
In this article, we'll talk about some of the common problems that entrepreneurs face when it comes to mental health and offer some tips for how to deal with them. We'll also discuss the importance of prioritizing mental health in your business and how to create a support system.
Starting and running your own business is an incredibly rewarding experience. However, it can also be extremely taxing on your mental health. Entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to mental health issues because the pressures of running a business can be overwhelming, and the constant stress can take a toll on your emotional well-being. If you are an entrepreneur, it is important to make sure that you are taking care of your mental health.
When you constantly work, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes, entrepreneurs get so focused that they forget to take care of basic needs like eating and sleeping.
As an antidote, make sure to schedule time for activities that you enjoy and help you relax. It could include exercise, reading, relaxing without technology, or spending time with friends and family. It’s important to have hobbies and activities you enjoy, so schedule time for those, too.
Trying to keep track of everything can be one of the most stressful parts of entrepreneurship. Stay organized by creating to-do lists and setting up systems that help you keep track of your tasks. Project management systems are a big help for this.
You don’t have to do everything yourself! Delegate tasks to employees or contractors so you can focus on the most important aspects of your business.
The stress of being the boss, the demands of meeting deadlines, and the pressure to manage impressions – that is, to appear strong, confident, and secure – can also take a toll on your mental well-being.
And if you're like most entrepreneurs, you probably don't have access to mental health resources through your work. Therapy can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. There are resources available for lower-cost counseling or subscription-based services that we will cover later in the article.
It can be tough to prioritize your mental health when you're an entrepreneur. After all, you're the one in charge, and you're the one who's responsible for everything that goes on. And then add in the pressures of leading a team, paying salaries, and having responsibility for the development and success of your product, staff, and business as a whole. That’s a lot of pressure, and you’re the leader.
If you don't take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your business, employees, and teammates. There are a few warning signs you should be aware of that indicate your mental health or the mental health of your staff might be suffering.
So how do you know when someone’s mental health is suffering? Well, as an entrepreneur, you’re automatically at a higher statistical likelihood to experience issues surrounding mental health. Neurodivergence is prevalent among entrepreneurs as well.
If you're having trouble sleeping, feeling depressed, or are constantly anxious or stressed, those are red flags that you need to take care of yourself. Notice if any of your staff report anything relating to these issues in regular conversations, one-on-one meetings, or HR meetings.
Not only are you likely to experience mental health issues yourself as an entrepreneur, but this also applies to people working with and for you.
You likely have neurodiverse people on your team, as 15-20% of the population has some sort of neurodivergence. Knowing how to present information, relate conversationally, and conduct meetings with neurodivergent employees is important.
The first step in accommodating neurodivergent employees is to understand their diagnosis. It will help you to understand what accommodations may be necessary for them to be successful in their role. Remember that all personal health disclosures are confidential and should not be shared with other team members.
Communicate openly and frequently. This communication should include not only discussions of work-related tasks, but also any changes to the workplace or their work schedule.
For example, if an employee has ADHD you may need to provide them with a more structured work environment and clear expectations for their tasks. If an employee has autism, you may need to provide them with a quiet workspace and avoid sudden changes to their routine. You will be better able to create a work environment that is conducive to the success of your neurodivergent employees by understanding their specific needs.
It is also important to be flexible with deadlines and expectations when accommodating neurodivergent employees and those struggling with mental health. You should not expect them to meet the same deadlines or standards as neurotypical employees.
For example, if an employee with ADHD is struggling to meet a deadline, try giving them a longer timeline or breaking up their task into smaller goals. If an employee with autism is having difficulty completing a task, try providing them with explicit instructions or demonstrating it. Many autistic people learn with visual methods, and a demonstration can be helpful.
Being flexible with deadlines and expectations allows your neurodivergent employees the time and space they need to be successful.
One of the best ways to accommodate neurodivergent employees is to be flexible with hours and allow them to work from home. Many neurodivergent individuals have difficulty functioning in traditional work environments, so it is important to be accommodating to their needs.
For example, some neurodivergent employees prefer to work early in the morning or at night, when the office or online team is less crowded-feeling. Additionally, many neurodivergent employees find that they are more productive when working from home, so allowing them to do so on occasion or full-time can be very beneficial.
Another way to accommodate neurodivergent employees is to allow for breaks and time off as needed. Many neurodivergent individuals have difficulty focusing for long periods, so giving them breaks throughout the day is important. If you use a keystroke counter or idle timer, it’s especially important to remember.
Additionally, some neurodivergent individuals may need to take time off occasionally to manage their symptoms. For example, if an employee has a mental health condition, they may need to take a few days off to recover.
It’s worth noting that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 recognizes both Depression and ADHD as protected disabilities. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations as long as it doesn’t create an undue hardship for the business. The requirements enforcement changes based on team size and a few other factors.
As a business owner and a manager of people with disabilities, it’s imperative to understand the laws that apply to you and what’s required. It includes when you can ask an employee or potential employee about any mental health concerns they may have. Know that if you’re an employee, your mental health is just as important as your executives’, and your manager is required to receive the disclosure of your condition(s) seriously and with respect.
The truth is good mental health can improve your physical health, productivity, and creativity. But more importantly, seeking help for mental health should never be stigmatized.
Showing individuals respect and acceptance can help them cope with their illnesses. (This works for you, too!) As a leader, it's important to be vulnerable and demonstrate that you take personal concerns seriously.
Compassionate awareness allows your team and colleagues to feel more comfortable with you. Support is necessary for all areas of life, especially entrepreneurship and mental health. And what better way to pave the road for employees than by walking it yourself as a leader?
Of course, seeking help for mental health can be difficult. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can't afford to take care of your mental health because you're too busy taking care of your business, your team, and your clients. You might feel like you don't have time, are worried about the cost, or are embarrassed.
But it's important to remember that there are people who care about you and want to help. There are many resources available, including hotlines, therapy, and medication.
In reality, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you're feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or generally not yourself, it's important to reach out for help. There are a lot of resources available to entrepreneurs who are struggling with their mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, don't hesitate to seek help. It could be the best decision you ever make.
Untreated mental health issues can be scary to face without support and help. The cost of not taking care of your mental health can be high. Untreated mental illness can lead to problems with addiction, job loss, and homelessness.
Ignoring your mental health can lead to a decline in productivity. When you're not feeling your best mentally, it can be difficult to get anything done. You may find you are struggling to concentrate or feeling too overwhelmed to even start. It can have a major impact on your life.
Mindfulness exercises have been shown to help improve key measures for entrepreneurs. Things like productivity, creativity, and innovation can all be improved with regular mindfulness practice. So how can we create a support system to manage mental health as entrepreneurs?
One of the best things we can do is to find a community of like-minded individuals. These people understand the unique challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. They can offer support and advice when things get tough.
There are also several online resources available. These can be a great way to get started on your journey to better mental health. Subscription-based therapy services like Talkspace can help if your insurance doesn’t cover visits with a licensed therapist.
There is also a popular active listening-based peer chat, 7 Cups, that’s free and available 24/7. 7 Cups also offers a paid monthly subscription to licensed therapists in addition to the free peer chat. Many online resources are available if you need someone to listen or a licensed professional to help.
Make sure you're taking care of yourself physically. As we have said, this means eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It's not just about doing yoga or meditating every day. Every day, focus on things like eating regular meals, drinking water, and getting sunshine and fresh air. When our physical health is in good shape, it's much easier to maintain our mental health.
Self-care doesn't always mean massages or retail therapy. Taking steps to learn coping skills, set boundaries, and rest is self-care! Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do for ourselves is to step back and give ourselves some time and space.
It's important to be aware of the impact mental health has on your employees' productivity as a team leader. According to the University of Massachusetts, "60% of lost workdays each year can be attributed to stress.”
In addition, an estimated 75-90% of visits to healthcare providers stem from stress-related conditions, costing employers increased healthcare costs. Your employees matter more than tasks or targets! Stressed teams lead to lesser production, less efficiency, and fewer happy employees.
Stress can cause team members to become less engaged, less motivated, and less productive. Additionally, stress can lead to absenteeism, as team members take time off to deal with their stress. It can harm team morale, as well as the overall productivity of the team.
When team members are stressed, it can lead to lower productivity and efficiency because stress can cause many problems, including fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Additionally, when team members are stressed, they are more likely to make mistakes. It can lead to costly errors that can set a project back significantly.
Offer an open, welcoming environment as a team leader. Supportive and confidential communication with management can help people with mental health issues continue to or return to work. Be respectful of your employees’ time and space.
Make sure you don’t interrupt when they’re working and respect their personal space when talking to them. Create an inclusive environment where everyone feels like they belong. It means being open-minded and accepting of different points of view. Show your appreciation for your employees’ hard work. A little appreciation can go a long way in making someone feel valued and appreciated.
You also need to be mindful of the tasks you're assigning your team - are they manageable or causing undue stress? As a team leader, it's important to strike a balance between productivity and employee wellness.
Here are some tips to help you prioritize your mental health. Remember, habits are built one day at a time, so pick one and stick with it before adding another. Trying to do too much or change too much at once can over-tax your brain.
1. Be present in the moment. Be fully present when you're attending a meeting, working on a task, or having a conversation. Don't allow your mind to wander. It will help you stay focused and productive. If you have ADHD, try to be mindful of how many times you get up during a meeting or a conversation, as this disrupts the flow and can feel awkward for meeting participants.
2. Schedule your tasks. Don't try to accomplish everything in one day. Spread them out and give yourself enough time to complete them. Another important thing to remember is to take your time when completing each task. If you try to rush through things, you are more likely to make mistakes or overlook something important. Additionally, taking your time will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand. It will help reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Set realistic boundaries. Don't take on more than you can handle. Know your limits and stick to them. If you're constantly working long hours and taking on more than you can handle, eventually you'll become overwhelmed and burned out. Setting boundaries can help you to be more productive. If you know that you only have a certain amount of time to complete a task, you’ll be more focused and work more efficiently.
4. Take care of yourself physically. Exercise, eat healthily, and meditate. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-boosting effects. Additionally, exercise can help to reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, and increase energy levels. These are all great ways to boost your mood and improve your mental health.
5. Have consistent check-ins. Communicating with your social and support circles is important for accountability and growth. Talking with others about your successes and failures can help you stay accountable and motivated.
6. Remember, quality over quantity. There are only so many hours in a day that you can be productive; the more you stretch yourself, the lower the quality of your work will be. It means that you should choose a career you are passionate about, rather than one that simply pays the bills. A job that brings you fulfillment and a sense of purpose will be much better for your mental health than a job that feels like drudgery.
7. Sleep has a direct impact on health. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Getting enough sleep is essential for optimal physical and mental health. Make sure you get plenty of sleep every night to perform well at work and in life.
8. Make time for yourself. When you run your own business, it's easy to work 24/7 and never take a break. But it's important to make time for yourself, even if it's just 10 minutes a day. Take a break to relax and rejuvenate, even if it's just taking a few deep breaths in the sunshine or reading a book.
9. Seek professional help. If you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or other licensed mental health professional can help you manage stress and anxiety and provide you with tools to cope with difficult situations.
With all that's happening in the world, mental health should be a priority. The demands of entrepreneurship are taxing on mental health, and it’s important to recognize when your mental health is suffering.
There are many accommodations managers and team leaders can make for neurodiverse employees. It’s also important to seek help and create a support system when managing mental health as an entrepreneur.
In this special episode of The Donut Shop, we talk about all things related to mental health in entrepreneurship. From recognizing the warning signs that something isn’t quite right and seeking help and treatment to creating a supportive environment in your business - we cover it all!
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