Maintaining Your Mental Health While Running A Small Business

Your business needs to be healthy, but as an entrepreneur you need to consider your health, too. Especially your mental health.

If your brain is fried and sputtering to a halt due to stress or lack of sleep or any one of the endless matters a small business owner has to contend with, that can have a domino effect. This week’s skipped workouts or the extra hours on the job can mean more tiredness and less focus next week. The longer those little things are allowed to fester, the bigger the toll they can take on one’s mental — not to mention physical — health.

For those reasons it might be time to take a step back and focus on you.

Reality Check

It doesn’t help knowing most startups fail. Entrepreneurs are already juggling a lot with that knowledge hanging over their heads. Planning. Hiring. Payroll. Customers. Products. Services.

It takes a lot of work to get a business underway and while getting things up and running can be a big time suck, it’s important not to let it overshadow everything else.

To do so risks depression, anxiety and burnout. That’s not good for the boss, or anyone else they come into contact with.

The Need to Succeed

The drive and obsession that powers entrepreneurs to build a business or bring an idea to fruition, that’s a major contributor to their success.

That obsession, on the flip side, can end up draining them. To pour all one’s energies into this passion project, if it suffers setbacks and downturns, it can be easy to blame oneself and suffer the emotional pitfalls.

For the really intense go-getters, they even may be affected by hypomania, or a milder form of bipolar disorder.

They’re so emotionally invested setbacks hit them hard. That can lead to depression and burnout. Burnout in particular takes root when a person doesn’t take some downtime, and stress builds up.

That said, stress has its good points. It can make someone focus and perform better. It can be a life-saver when the fight-or-flight response kicks in.

If we don’t rest, however, it builds up. Anxiety, irritation, depression, and insomnia can follow. So can aches and pains. It can affect the heart and immune system the longer it goes on.

Some entrepreneurs put so much into the business that their identity becomes wrapped up in it. If there’s a problem, they take it too hard. Plus, in these unprecedented times of global pandemic, nearly everyone is struggling in some form or another.

That makes self-care — true self-care, not resorting to drug and alcohol abuse to escape — all the more important.

Self-Care Tips

You need a bit of healthy selfishness for your own good. That means making time for you, as opposed to finding it. Consider:

  • Making time for family and friends. You’ll keep connected, enjoy socializing, and it’ll take your mind off of work for a while.
  • Keeping your mind active. Puzzles. Reading. Learning a language. Taking line dance lessons. Painting. Learning to play guitar. Any can flex the brain’s so-called muscles. An active mind is a healthier mind.
  • Exercising: It brings oxygen to the brain, and helps keep the synapses firing. Plus it’s good for the heart, can help prevent some cancers, and boosts mood. 
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure you get plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and water so you get your vitamins and minerals and stay hydrated.
  • Getting plenty of sleep. Without enough Zs it gets harder to concentrate and keep focused. That increases the potential for mistakes.

If you’re overwhelmed, experiencing depression, anxiety or panic attacks, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Untreated they will affect everything from mood to how well you sleep. Therapy or medication — or a combination thereof — can work wonders.

If there are downturns, don’t rush to blame yourself. Sometimes customers can’t afford the service. Sometimes it’s the right idea at the wrong time. Or it just needs tweaking.

If it’s a learning experience, it’s not a total loss.

Beating yourself up over things won’t help. Self-care will.

Patrick writes for Sunshine Behavioral Health – addiction treatment. Patrick writes about mental health and addiction to help reduce the stigma associated with them. When not working you can look for Patrick at your local basketball court.

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