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For a lot of us entrepreneurs, our main focus is our business. But it shouldn’t be. Our overall health should be more of a priority. We work long hours daily, leaving little time for recreational activities. There’s more of a chance of living a longer and more balanced life when we make our health and self-care part of our regular lives.
A survey by the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards highlighted that 58% of the entrepreneurs surveyed experienced mental health issues with conditions including anxiety (21%), depression (19%), and stress (41%), and 55% of respondents said that running a business has harmed their mental health. Also, 71% indicated that they experienced above-average stress in the workplace daily.
Dr. Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist, and researcher at UC San Francisco conducted a study in 2015 that illustrates how different founders are from the rest of the population. He found that 72% of entrepreneurs reported having a mental health history, in contrast to only 48% of comparison participants.
It’s understandable to want to keep going and going until we’ve reached what we consider success, or whatever our goals are. But that’s a sure way to either fail, give up or experience burnout. Consider these facts and tips while on your entrepreneurial journey, so that you can be at your healthiest and happiest.
1. Entrepreneurs are their business’s biggest asset
We like to think that our eBooks, courses, products, services, etc., are our biggest asset, but the fact of the matter is, that we are our own biggest asset. Think about it, if we’re always so busy “taking care of business” that we neglect our health and happiness, causing mental issues, fatigue and burnout — how valuable would we be to our business?
2. Being healthy influences motivation
If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can do something as simple as walking. I put my earbuds in, turn on some of my favorite songs, and I walk. That sweat starts to flow, and I’m telling you, those feel-good endorphins help with clearing my mind and puts me on a higher level of peace and clarity. It heightens my mood. If you haven’t already, add some kind of physical activity to your life, and try to do it at least three times a week. Healthy eating also helps. I’m not saying you need to be a health-food junkie, but replacing sodas for water and eating more of the right foods helps as well. Also, make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep. When you’re healthy and happy, you’re more focused, energized and productive.
3. Utilize your circle
Stay away from people who bring you down. Have conversations and interactions with people who add to your happiness and peace, like family or friends. If you can’t have that in-person interaction for whatever reason, a Zoom meeting can be useful. Having close relationships with other entrepreneurs is also ideal. Who knows what you’re experiencing more than another entrepreneur? If you don’t have a circle of entrepreneur friends, join one or create one of your own.
Meetup is a website that allows users to organize get-togethers with others who enjoy the same activities. Some common examples include sports teams, book clubs, entrepreneurs, startups and social groups. By signing up, you can find a group that suits the activity you’re looking for, or create your group to bring others to you. Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) is another great resource. They bring women entrepreneurs together from around the world to help them connect, scale their businesses and ultimately succeed. The DWEN community welcomes all levels of entrepreneurs, from startups to scaleups. You have to have balance.
4. Prioritize your mental health
If you feel that something isn’t right within you, don’t ignore it. Reach out for help. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups and community-based organizations.
5. Relax, refresh, recharge
It’s important to relax, refresh, and recharge, because when we don’t, it causes stress. And stress can mute positive traits, which can have an impact on our interpersonal relationships as well as our coping mechanisms. Do something that relaxes you, makes you feel refreshed or recharges you. Some of the things that help me are reading, writing and a warm bath. Pause, even if it is only for 10 minutes. Step away from emails, cell phones, TV and social media. If you can, take a 30-minute nap. Go on a staycation. Overall, make your health and happiness a priority.
Let’s make sure that in our quest to be our best for our clients, we are first being our best for ourselves. We’re no good to anyone if we’re not good to ourselves.