Part 2 in our series on self-care in business, and how mental health practices for entrepreneurs and business owners can improve your work-life balance, productivity and efficiency.
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. While you enjoy the benefits of setting your own goals, hours and definition of success, those benefits come with long days, putting out fires, and a lot of self-reliance.
Managing the inevitable stress — and even burnout — you may come up against as an entrepreneur, while at the same time working hard to scale your business, manage your staff and deal with whatever life throws at you can be incredibly taxing. And when you are a small or medium-sized business, managing those concerns can be tricky without the programs and policies that are only feasible for larger enterprises.
Keep reading for accessible ways to engage in self-care to ensure that you stay on top of your game.
Managing your work-life balance
If you’re feeling the effects of stress on your mental health, you’re not alone. In fact, a 2019 US study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that 72% of entrepreneurs reported mental health concerns. A similar 2019 study by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that 46% of entrepreneurs reported that mental health concerns impacted their ability to work.
When the CMHA asked entrepreneurs what they needed most to maintain positive mental health, “more than half (57%) reported they needed work-life balance.” The most common coping strategy, however, was “being persistent,” which is not necessarily feasible or effective.
But this doesn’t mean that a happy work-life balance is beyond reach! When you don’t have access to professional mental health practitioners, employee assistance programs, or the staff to help shoulder some of your workload, there are some simple ways to support your mental health.
1. Schedule breaks like appointments
Many of us feel guilty for taking time away from work when our success rests squarely on our own shoulders. But when you recognize that breaks are actually an investment in yourself, including your ability to make sound decisions and produce your best work, it’s easier to see how crucial they are to your performance.
Instead of squeezing in time for a quick break whenever you can fit it in, schedule your breaks just like you would any other appointment or meeting. This is helpful whether you are at the office or you are working from home.
For example, one BC-based communications entrepreneur schedules his yoga classes and golf games into his calendar like he would a client meeting. “So, if somebody calls and says, ‘Hey, can we meet?’ I just go, ‘No, I have an appointment then.’ I don’t feel guilty about it anymore the way I used to. This is a necessary component for me to be able to perform at a high level. So, I’ve got to take care of myself first.”
2. Find a release
It’s important to allow ourselves time to recharge so that we can come back to our work with fresh eyes. This means that when you do take a break, even just for 15 or 30 minutes, you need to allow yourself to completely disconnect from your job.
That could be something physically active like hiking, something creative like painting, or other hobbies and activities you love, such as gardening, spending time with your kids and pets, or even reading a novel.
In fact, a 2012 study from Stanford University found that there is a significant increase in blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with executive functioning when you are closely reading literature.
3. Talk to other entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are often isolated – you have to rely on yourself to problem solve and manage your own health. Reaching out to other entrepreneurs, colleagues or friends to simply talk about the issues you’re facing can be hugely helpful in working through those issues.
When we normalize talking about our mental health, we find not only more avenues to cope, but that we’re not alone in what we’re going through.
4. Revamp your nutrition
Long hours fuelled by coffee and protein bars may sound familiar, but it’s not doing anything to help you be at your best. Harvard researchers found that diets high in vegetables, fruit, unprocessed grains, fish and little red meat or dairy can lead to a 35% decrease in the risk of depression. This is because 95% of our serotonin is produced in our gastrointestinal tract.
Researchers explain that “your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.” If you don’t have the time to cook, explore the possibilities of food delivery subscriptions that make nutritious meals more convenient.
Being an entrepreneur can be both exhilarating and exhausting. By finding mental health practices for entrepreneurs, including simple and inexpensive ways to prioritize yourself, you can better prepare for those moments when you need to be operating at your best. Take your mental health seriously – your business will thank you.
At Liquid Capital, we’re business owners, too, and we understand the many challenges that owners and enterprises face. We work alongside our clients as true partners, and we’re not only ready to help assist with your financial needs, but also in other strategic areas that can help take some weight off your shoulders and keep your business growing.