In 2020, the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States conducted a study looking at the mental health of entrepreneurs. The study found that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to just 48% of non entrepreneurs (the general population). The study also noted that entrepreneurs were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression, ADHD, substance use and bipolar diagnosis. Burnout, anxiety, insomnia, depression – these are all incredibly common diagnoses (whether self diagnosed or professionally) of those who run a business. Unfortunately, it turns out that being a startup founder or entrepreneur isn’t simply waking up on a yacht and responding to a few emails before your morning espresso.
With these stats and knowledge in mind, what can be done to protect the mental health of entrepreneurs? Here are a few ideas to help business leaders navigate throughout the stressful, but rewarding journey of growing a business.
1. Claim Your Own Time: With an endless list of to-do’s you could easily work 24/7 on your business. One of the things to keep in mind is that you need to carve out time for yourself. Keep that time sacred. That’s your time to do things outside of your business that help keep you grounded and keep burnout at bay. The author of this article, for example, spends 20 minutes every morning meditating. Non-negotiable.
2. Exercise: Yes, we know, you’ve heard it before: Exercise can release endorphins, which can make you feel good and relieve stress. Additionally, steady aerobic exercise fuels the growth of neurons, increases BDNF (a neurotrophin that plays a big part in neuroplasticity, allowing us to handle unknown situations, think up creative solutions and adapt on our feet), it can help improve sleep quality, improve your posture…and more.
3. Start Your Day With Gratitude & Goals: We know how easy it is to wake up feeling stressed before even getting out of bed. This can lead to a day full of anxiety which is then projected on the others around you. How do you combat it? Take a few minutes in the morning to think about all the positive things in your life, even better, write it down if you’re a journal-er. Think about what is positive, what your goals for the day are, and think about a few things that make you happy. That’s it. This very small act can have such a ripple impact on your business and your personal life.
4. Remember to Delegate: Repeat after us…”You cannot do everything, you do not have to do everything.” Delegate. Think about the people in your life who can help alleviate some of the strain – both from a personal aspect and a professional aspect. Delegate. Ask for help.
5. Connect With Other Entrepreneurs: Misery loves company – WE’RE KIDDING. Truly though, if you connect with other people who are going through similar experiences, you not only can gain useful advice, but also empathy. Being in charge is extremely isolating. Surround yourself with other business leaders in the same boat who can be a support to you. Finding a good mentor is also priceless.
6. Stay on top of Finances & Paperwork: Cashflow is obviously a major source of anxiety for entrepreneurs. If you take the time to do proper forecasting and stay on top of your financial position, it can alleviate your stress. You will know what to expect, when to pick up the pace, it’ll help you create contingency plans, and more.
7. Break Down Your Problems: Identify what it is that is actually causing you stress. If you’re facing a task which looks impossible at first, we guarantee it’ll look much more manageable if you break it down, and face the task in smaller segments. We know this sounds elementary, but honestly it works.
8. Take a Vacation: According to Inc. Magazine vacations are key for founders. “Taking a vacation once every three months is an excellent way to reboot and relax. As a business owner, you are always thinking of ways to grow your business and take it to the next level, and that kind of higher-level thinking can begin to wear on you if you don’t take regular breaks.” Not only does it allow you to think bigger, but it helps you rest your body, reset your biological clock, and catch up on sleep.
Empowered Startups is an Innovative Startup Incubator and foundry headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With offices in Canada, France, and Portugal, we train/mentor/ and network entrepreneurs to successfully launch new businesses in diverse markets. As a foundry we also conceive, build and launch our own products and solutions. Empowered Startups is recognized by the Canadian Government as a designated start-up business incubator and is known internationally for growing ideas into sustainable businesses using both a virtual and on-site model. Our training tools and mentorship are used and recognized by leading global university labs, Startup incubators, and innovation hubs. To apply for the Canada Startup Visa Program, visit: www.empoweredstartups.com
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