May is Mental Health Month, and each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the month of May, YFS Magazine and the rest of the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Learn more at NAMI.org.
The psychological price of entrepreneurship can be costly.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”
It’s an important discussion because boosting your well-being and staying mentally healthy is a critical part of the entrepreneurship journey. So when you find yourself overwhelmed by the challenges of entrepreneurship you’ll appreciate these tips.
Here’s a look at 21 strategies successful entrepreneurs use in order to thrive and survive.
“I’m sure it helps that my dog is literally the cutest thing in the world (he’s a cavalier/bichon mix) and whenever we go out, tons of people always try to pet him. When I take him outside after a long day, I realize that I start focusing way more on what he’s doing (what he’s trying to smell/lick/pee on) than I am worrying about my day. Walking with my dog helps me to channel my energy elsewhere, and it also gives me the opportunity to just relax, admire the new Spring flowers that are blooming on the trees near my apartment, and take deep breaths of fresh air.”
“Turning my phone off and going off the grid for 30 minutes per day keeps my stress at a healthy level and allows more control. After my walk I feel more at ease and prepared to tackle tasks for the rest of the work day.”
“Yoga and meditation help me power through a demanding schedule, growing a business, and being a parent. Doing yoga and meditating before work allows me to clear my mind early, and doing them after work lets me calm down and de-stress after a challenging day. They also help to keep me in shape, which gives me the energy to keep up with my constantly changing schedule and my son.”
“After taking up weight training as a way to keep my body and mind in shape, I became a British powerlifting champion. Powerlifting involves squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting the maximum weight possible and the training requires real focus. As MD of a 12-strong team of social media managers, I deal with HR issues, sales and highly demanding clients, which can be incredibly stressful, especially since we’re managing entire social presences in real time, 24 hours per day!”
“Being an entrepreneur can be extremely lonely, so its very important you meet up with other people facing the same challenges who can understand some of the troubles you may be facing. In London this is often done over a pint, but could be done at a coffee shop or restaurant as well. This will help make you feel less like you’re the only once facing these problems.”
“I escape by brainstorming future functionalities for my business and by diversifying my reading choices: some have to do with entrepreneurship while others are escapes from reality with fiction. I find it important to have a combination of mindfulness and escape in order to maintain and improve your mental health while you’re in the beautiful chaos of entrepreneurship.”
“Meditation reduces anxiety and depression. It also benefits the areas of the brain which are responsible for self-control and resilience. I try to spend 15 minutes every day doing something to clear my mind. Whether it’s guided meditation, mindfulness, or yoga, it recharges my brain so I can focus. Steve Jobs encouraged employees to take 30 minutes for this at Apple, and Google has a similar initiative.”
“Plan each day in advance and follow some semblance of a routine. For example, each morning I grab coffee and go outside immediately to think about the day ahead. Then I either head to the gym or out for a run. Getting out of the house and active first thing in the morning sets my tone for the day and gets both my brain and body in gear for full productivity. I also schedule … time to relax or meet up with my husband, friends or colleagues.”
“I handle my stress is playing piano. It clears my mind and has been scientifically proven to engage every part of the brain and takes my mind off of everything. The brain is a muscle and playing music is like a full body workout that has helped me reduce my stress levels.”
“Every day, I aim to make time to be outside, either for a brief walk in the park, a hike or just some time away from work – connecting with nature, seeing other people lead their lives, and just being and not doing, reminds me of the bigger picture and that feeling stressed can be a choice I can choose not to make.”
“I’m blessed to have a few good buddies who show up on my doorstep at 5:30am each morning to run. We cover 4-5 miles of Texas hill country and discuss politics, religion, and anything else our morning brains can process.”
Allan Staker, founder of Brain Chase
“I gave up drinking alcohol and make it a point to work out an hour a day (regardless of how busy I am) because this helps me keep my head on straight.”
“Managing an agency can be stressful – especially since it’s a competitive field riddled with tight deadlines. I captain a boat and love going out on the water to clear my head. I become consumed by the beauty of the ocean and feel completely reenergized and ready to get back to work.”
“It should be obvious, but keeping work and personal separate in as many ways as possible is key. This includes: A separate room for my home office and separate email, social media accounts, phone lines, and not working weekends… It’s all about balance. If all else fails, I hug my dog and my cat.”
“The two main things I make sure to do every day, no matter how crazy my schedule gets, are hit the steam room for some relaxation and to always joke around with my co-founders. We have no shortage of inside jokes and pranks that we pull on each other to keep the atmosphere relaxed as much as possible. You always do the best work when you’re having fun!”
“I rely on the ‘power of pause’ to help me manage the stress of running my business. Pausing includes any of the following: counting five deep breaths, gazing at the sky for a few moments before a meeting, driving in silence, closing my eyes and being still for a few minutes. Finding moments to pause helps me settle the mental noise that easily accumulates throughout my busy workday.”
“When a really stressful moment happens (and it will sometimes, daily), if possible, avoid taking an immediate action until the next day. Typically you’ll make a better decision or the “stressful moment/event” will disappear.”
“Before bedtime and weekends, watch or listen to comedy and laugh! Make yourself laugh, this is one of the healthiest things you can do and the stress will melt away or at least be more manageable. Daniel Tosh is my favorite.”
“A worcation (half work, half vacation) is working remotely at a place significantly nicer than the office. Comically enough, my SVP of BizDev and I are on a workcation right now in China. We were forced here for a 3-day trade show, but are staying an extra week to work from China.”
Sebastien Dupéré, President and CEO of Dupray
“I take 20 minute cat naps during the day. I generally take them midafternoon right in the middle of the work day. I have found this is an absolutely invaluable way to recharge. I wake up fresh and ready to take up the challenges of the day. I am hoping in the future (our next warehouse) to include sleep pods so that my employees can do the same.”
“The best approach to maintain your stress levels and sanity is to focus on just one thing at a time. If you focus on 8 things at once, you are putting 12.5% of your best effort into each thing. If you focus on just one, you can put 100% into it. Spinning your wheels accomplishes nothing, and despite what many people, especially entrepreneurs think, multitasking guarantees failure in tasks.”
“First, I listen to classical music to detach momentarily from my mind racing at a million miles an hour. Second, the smell of incense alters the human senses, relaxing the mind and body.”
“Find something that takes total focus so you can’t think about work! It feels good to exercise your brain power in a totally different way. Mine is (trying) to learn Italian.”
“Keep a journal by your bed. If you weren’t able to finish the last task you were working on during the day, write down what you plan to do in the morning. The act of getting these thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper will allow you to stop stressing out about the task at hand and get a better night of sleep.”
How do you cope with the demands of entrepreneurship? Let us know in the comments section below.