On the 10 October, World Mental Health Day takes center stage. This topic is finally receiving the long overdue recognition it deserves, and it’s one which is particularly applicable to the small business community, where loneliness, extreme stress and burning the candle at both ends is endemic. When you’re self-employed and trying to build a business, you enter a world of uncertainty and may be working harder than you ever have in your life. This leads to huge amounts of pressure, but with limited time and resources during the lean start-up phase these issues can quickly get shoved under the carpet. Over time they build up and the result is often far worse. As the most important resource in your own operations, if your mental and physical health is jeopardized, it can spell serious trouble or even closure for your company. So, what can entrepreneurs do to take care of their valuable mental health in an environment which seems specifically geared to damage it?
Develop Your Boundaries
It’s only when you break away to start up your own business that you realize the unique pressures involved in going it alone. It’s not just that you’re solely responsible for generating a profit in a lot of cases. It’s also that you’re suddenly juggling lots of tasks that you may not have much prior experience of, and experiencing a lack of boundaries that can build up stress over time. It’s extremely hard but also critical to start as you mean to go on with regards to your personal boundaries. This goes double if you work from home, where it can be even harder to achieve separation. Be strict about your working hours, try to keep the space that you work in separate – converting a spare bedroom into an office is far preferable to working from the kitchen table – and schedule in time to work out, see friends and spend quality time with loved ones just as religiously as would that accounts meeting.
Ask For Support
Involving professional support if things are escalating can be invaluable. If you were involved in a trucking accident, you wouldn’t hesitate to contact the right legal support, so if your mental health is suffering a car crash it’s equally important to speak to someone. This can be informal, with a trusted friend or you can find a business mentor who will have insight into the unique pressures you’re facing. You may also choose to seek support from a therapist who can give you more tools and techniques to handle extreme stress, such as mindfulness. Knowing you aren’t alone and that you have someone to verbalize your worries to can count for a lot when you’re struggling. It can also be incredibly powerful to form a network. It could be attending networking session or forming a group on LinkedIn, but being able to connect with other entrepreneurs in a similar situation can be very beneficial.
Sort Your Sleep
Stress means that we don’t get enough sleep, and when we’re running on a sleep deficit issues can quickly spiral. Make it a priority to practice good sleep hygiene, including banning electronic devices from the bedroom, ensuring that your sleeping environment is dark and cool enough, and if necessary, using aids such as an aromatherapy diffuser or a sleep mask to help you catch those zzzz.