How Entrepreneurs Can Prioritize Themselves
May 21, 2021 | Resources
According to a recent research study conducted by Dr. Michael Freeman, 72% of entrepreneurs suffer from mental health issues.
Why are entrepreneurs more prone to mental health conditions? There is a lot of weight on our shoulders – fundraising, selling, managing, hustling. We always need to be on! And let’s face it – there’s a lot at risk. According to Professor Shikhar Ghosh, three out of four venture-backed startups fail.
Inc. Magazine published an article exploring the characteristics of entrepreneurs and how those traits also make them susceptible to a heightened emotional state.
“People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states,” Dr. Freeman said. “Those states may include depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation, and suicidal thinking. Call it the downside of being up. The same passionate dispositions that drive founders heedlessly toward success can sometimes consume them.”
To be an effective business owner and manager, it is vital to take care of yourself.
We spoke to five entrepreneurs, including business owners, therapists, and startup founders, about prioritizing their mental health.
Click here to watch the entire webinar featuring Rachel Cox, Founder, and CEO, Airapy, Laura Shook Guzman, Founder and CEO, Conscious Ambition, Angie Kupper, Co-Founder, Hug Sleep, Chikeitha Owens, Licensed Professional Counselor and Owner, Abundance of Hope Counseling Service, and Nanea Reeves, Co-Founder and CEO, TRIPP.
10 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Improve Their Wellbeing
- Value Yourself – As an entrepreneur, you are constantly selling your vision, whether to investors, customers, or staff. It takes a toll, especially if you are faced with rejection and criticism. You’ve come this far. Make sure to surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams. This includes YOU! Be kind to yourself.
- Meditation – Reeves, Founder of TRIPP mediates twice a day. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation will help you increase your focus and ability to think with a sense of clarity that leads to improved decision-making.
- Sleep – We know sleep is a commodity for any entrepreneur but make the best out of those precious hours. Kupper, a child and adolescent therapist, and her husband, Matt Mundt created Hug Sleep, which manufactures Sleep Pod that uses Deep Touch Pressure Therapy to provide a gentle, calming pressure to help people relax and fall asleep.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal – Kupper suggests journaling to promote positive thinking and increase feelings of happiness. Check out this website for templates, apps, and products to get you started.
- Schedule Breaks During the Day – Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, suggests taking breaks every 75 to 90 minutes. “When people do a task and then take a break for 15 minutes, they help their brain consolidate information and retain it better,” Pozen said. “That’s what’s happening physiology during breaks.”
- Exercise – When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
- Experience Nature – According to a 2016 Nielsen Total Audience Report, most Americans stare at a screen for more than 10 hours. Based on research compiled by the American Psychological Association, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.
- Find a Community or Support Circle Focused on Entrepreneurs – Guzman, licensed family and marriage therapist who has seen firsthand the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs. She offers a virtual support group for entrepreneurs and additional resources on her website, Conscious Ambition.
- Use Water as Treatment – Applying water of different temperatures to our skin can change our physiology and mood. Warm baths can bring a sense of calm and relaxation. While immersing yourself in cold water can almost serve as a reset to the body. Dr. Peter Bongiorno explains more in this article posted on Psychology Today.
- Ask for Support – Cox wanted to make mental health care services more accessible, so she founded Airapy, a concierge service specifically for mental health services. Find the perfect person to talk to. A therapist should be someone who challenges you but also is supportive and respectful of your background.
- Abundance of Hope – Created by Chikeitha Owens, Licensed Professional Counselor, a variety of resources and websites associated with specific mental health conditions and concerns.
- Conscious Ambition – Curated by Laura Shook Guzman, who created #Tools4Founders along with Mental Health America and Women Who Cowork to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health concerns amongst entrepreneurs.
- Founders First – A community of founders who have experienced the chronic stress, anxiety, and life impacts of entrepreneurship firsthand.
- Inclusive Therapists offers a safer, simpler way to find a culturally responsive, social justice-oriented therapist.
- Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support for people in crisis in the United States via a medium people already use and trust.
- What If Ventures (specifically for mental health-related founders) – Venture capital fund investing in startups within the mental health and addiction recovery spaces.
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