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The life of an entrepreneur is taxing in every way imaginable. Challenges are not lacking, between raising capital, inconsistent income, establishing a brand and web presence, building a dependable team, and the challenges of growth and quality. Beyond your visionary mindset and ability to persevere is another key to your success that you may not be prioritizing: your mental health.
Mental health is easily one of the most underrated and overlooked keys to entrepreneurial success. A study out of UC Berkeley says a whopping 72% of entrepreneurs have some kind of mental-health issue. Of the entrepreneurs they studied, 30% had a history of depression, 19% had ADHD, 12% had substance abuse issues, and 11% reported having bipolar disorder. Mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves, and the good news is that you are not alone.
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A good deal of what makes a great entrepreneur is also what makes us vulnerable to mental illness, and ignoring your needs for the sake of your business is a choice you cannot afford to make. Let’s look at some ways to take care of our mental health and our businesses.
Having support is an important factor to your mental and emotional health. Support also has a secondary affect on your physical health as well. Lack of social support is linked to depression, and loneliness has been shown to alter the function of our brains leading to issues like cardiovascular disease, depression, increased alcohol use and increased suicide rates. Social support can be a challenge during a global pandemic, but there are some very creative ways of staying connected. Social media has played a huge role in keeping people connected, and because it is not limited by time or space, you can access support from people all over the world. Finding groups of entrepreneurs and small-business owners that share your struggles online can be a great way to get support.
One of the most important ways to find support is to talk about your mental health with those around you. This can be scary, but we have to see how imperative it is to share and be vulnerable and allow people to walk with us in our times of need. You may not even know how your friends and family can help you right away, but just sharing and not carrying the burden alone can be incredibly helpful. Asking for help should be seen as a sign of strength and not of weakness.
2. Professional support
We now live in a day and age where professional help is as close as our back pockets. Telehealth visits, mental-health apps, EBT / DBT and mindfulness apps are a great way to fit professional help into your daily grind. Professional help does not need to be just a psychologist or therapist; it can also be personal-development coaches, therapists and healers. These professionals can see outside of our periphery and help us deal with the past and be able to move forward for the betterment of ourselves and our businesses. The truth is everyone needs professional help at some point, so do not be afraid to accept help.
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3. Daily practice
Entrepreneurs everywhere can find the time to develop a daily practice for the benefit of themselves and their business. Daily practices can include meditation, gratitude, breathwork, yoga or even going for a walk. Daily practice is simply something you decide to do for your self, and it is non-negotiable. You don’t need to carve out two hours a day or make it complicated, but do make it something you enjoy and that gives your mind and body some peace. As a business pulls you in so many directions, knowing you have this sacred bit of time every day is priceless.
Outsourcing in this context is not about sending manufacturing to another country; rather, it’s about looking at your life and finding the things that are taking up mental space and depleting energy and finding someone else to handle it. As entrepreneurs, we wear so many different hats, and it can be a real challenge for us to relinquish some of that responsibility (and control) to someone else. Outsourcing could look like hiring someone to do your laundry or clean your house or getting a meal service. It could be finally hiring outside help for social-media management.
5. Radical self-acceptance
This pill might need some sugar to help it go down. Regardless of whether someone is an entrepreneur, CEO, librarian or retiree, we all need a healthy dose of radical self-acceptance. Seeing your struggles for what they are, and accepting them as part of you, makes it possible for us to move forward without shame and judgment of ourselves. This has a ripple effect beyond our mental life and allows us to then be open-minded and accepting of others and their struggles. If we are secretly hating and judging ourselves for having mental-health struggles, then we are more than likely doing the same to others. Most of us became entrepreneurs because we knew we could make a difference and bring about change, but we cannot do this effectively if we are also judging ourselves and others.
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Lastly, if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please reach out for help now.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness also has a free hotline as well as support groups and education and can be reached at 1-800-950-NAMI.
Crisis Text Line is a global not-for-profit organization providing free mental-health texting service through confidential crisis intervention via SMS message. The organization’s services are available 24 hours a day, every day, throughout the United States, Canada, UK and Ireland. Text HOME to 741741.
You are valuable and needed beyond how successful you are or how much profit you make. Your metal health is an integral part of your success, happiness and well-being, and you deserve to give it the attention it needs. Entrepreneurs today have amazing opportunities for innovation and solving the world’s problems, but we also face many challenges as well. In order to go forward into a strong and prosperous future, we have to prioritize our mental health.