Stressful days and sleepless nights are common when running a business. By adding self-care routines into your day, you can mitigate some of those worries to become more fulfilled and rested.
Entrepreneurs are a special breed. While you get to pave your own way you also have to deal with any roadblocks that come up as you go. It’s a lot of work, but worth the effort in order to be able to build your own business from scratch.
That said, the nature of being your own boss means that there’s nobody else to turn to for help when things become overwhelming or stressful. Where does your mental health fit into your own business strategy? Keep reading for tips on building self-care into your business.
Stress and entrepreneurship
Working for yourself means that you are faced with more challenges and fewer resources than non-entrepreneurs. Michael Freeman, a researcher from the University of California, explains that “entrepreneurs have lower initial earnings, lower earnings growth, lower long-term earnings, greater work stress, and more psychosomatic health problems than employees.” This means that issues like depression, anxiety, and ADHD are more common among those who choose to work for themselves.
A 2019 study from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that rates of stress are even higher among women entrepreneurs. Without the programs or policies for leave and other supports you might find in a large organization, many business owners are left to care for their mental health on their own.
Brigette, a Quebec-based event planner, puts it succinctly: “I can’t go higher than me to try to find help.”
In that same 2019 study, CMHA found that 23% of entrepreneurs surveyed said that they simply didn’t know where to turn to access mental health support, which left them without the help they needed.
Be your own self-care advocate
When you’ve moved beyond the growth stage of your business and are more firmly established, you have more options available to you to support your mental health, including that of your staff.
That support is an investment. If you don’t take care of your mental health, your business is at risk when you’re the one at the helm. Here are some actions you can take to support yourself as you continue to build your business.
Being the leader doesn’t mean that you need to have your hands on every aspect of your business. In fact, you’ve grown it and hired staff so that you don’t need to manage every detail! When your workload is so overwhelming that you find yourself losing sleep, experiencing brain fog, or unable to function as you normally would, it’s time to delegate some of your workload.
Take an inventory of your tasks and determine which items could be passed along to staff who have the capacity to take them on. Once you free yourself up to rest and recharge, you can focus on the big-picture issues and important decisions for your business.
Join a formal support network
Are there industry-specific associations or organizations in your city? Have you connected with other entrepreneurs? If not, consider joining a national association, like the US Association for Small Business and Enterprise, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, or the Women’s Enterprise Organization of Canada.
These kinds of organizations are developed to serve entrepreneurs — and accessing a support network or connecting with others who understand where you’re coming from can help to alleviate some of the stress of being your own boss.
Seek professional care
The advice of a mental health professional is one of the most effective means of determining the course of action best suited to your needs and stressors. While some people are nervous about how they will be perceived by their peers for accessing mental health care, it’s important to recognize that the stigma around mental health care is waning.
In 2019, for example, 65.5% of US adults received mental health treatment. If you have more than 10 employees, consider offering an employee assistance program to support you and your team.
These programs can help you and your staff with mental health concerns or to prevent burnout, navigate conflict or transitions, and manage stress. Contact the Canadian Employee Assistance Program Association or find the best US provider for your needs.
Being an entrepreneur is both rewarding and taxing, but your business shouldn’t come at the cost of your own health. By delegating work to your team, joining a support network, or seeking professional care, you’re taking a step toward ensuring the long-term viability of the business you’ve worked so hard to build.