Creating a successful business is a huge challenge that requires dedication, energy and passion. Demands placed on entrepreneurs are so great that they are often forced to forgo other aspects of their lives such as social activities, family time or just free time in general. However, if life affirming activities such as these are neglected for too long mental health problems can ensue, which could end up affecting not only an entrepreneur’s quality of life but also their hard fought for businesses.
Mental health issues that commonly affect entrepreneurs include anxiety, depression and addiction. Anxiety can grow out of a natural worry that many entrepreneurs face of how to manage their finances and whether their projects will be successful. Depression on the other hand, can be caused by work-related rejections or even arise as a result of ongoing unaddressed anxiety. It can also be caused by simply being overworked. Finally, addictive behaviour can affect entrepreneurs because it is a type of coping mechanism to deal with stress and lack of rest. Addictions can take many forms, most obviously alcohol, but there are other addictive behaviours that we might not immediately recognise as problematic such as playing video games, using prescription drugs, and even excessive social media use.
One important tool for helping entrepreneurs avoid or overcome mental health problems is to make sure that they are able to talk to someone about what they are going through.
How can entrepreneurs deal with their mental health challenges? One important tool for helping entrepreneurs avoid or overcome mental health problems is to make sure that they are able to talk to someone about what they are going through. By its very nature, being an entrepreneur can be lonely and isolating so it is vital to have an emotional support system in order to have good mental health. For entrepreneurs, this could be in the form of mentors or fellow entrepreneurs, or by seeking professional guidance from a therapist or coach.
Another important strategy to look after your mental well-being is to identify and prioritise self-care needs. The idea is to make caring for yourself part of your scheduled activities. For example, if you have a stressful meeting coming up, plan something relaxing to do afterwards. Put it on your schedule and stick to it as rigidly as you would any other business meeting. If you have not done this before, it can take some time to work out exactly what your self-care needs are, but it is an investment worth making. For some it might be taking regular holidays; for others it might be taking 10 minutes for a daily meditation. Either way you must decide to invest in self-care because while your business is very important, your well-being is more important because without that, there is no business.
Entrepreneurs should be on the lookout for signs that their mental health is under strain and seek professional help as early as they can to help them get back on their feet so that they don’t lose the business that they have worked so hard to build. ●
The writer is a Dubai-based certified family coach and founder of Nava, a coaching company focused on helping teens and supporting parents in the process