How to look after your mental health as an entrepreneur

There are loads of tips out there for entrepreneurs – how to be successful, how to scale up your business, how to network, how to get investment, but there’s not as much out there yet about the emotional side of things. The journey as an entrepreneur – from struggling startup to successful scalable business – can be fraught with anxiety, stress and worry, which takes a big toll on our mental health. So it’s something we need to be aware of from the outset. Don’t leave it until you’re a frazzled wreck.  Here’s our quick fire run through of how we look after our mental health here at Hey Tuesday. We hope some of these hacks work for you.

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Connect with others

It’s important to connect with others in a similar boat, so join networking groups for your business sector and check out co-working spaces in your city where you can meet like minded individuals. Hearing how someone else is tackling a particular issue that’s troubling you can be a real support, or might give you ideas and tips for your own situation. And sometimes it’s good to just chat and offload with people who understand.

Set realistic goals

Make sure you set realistic goals. If you’ve planned to turn a profit in your first year of trading, or set yourself a target to win a business award when you’ve barely set up your wifi connection, then you’re setting yourself up for anxiety and stress. Start small and make your business goals modest and achievable. That way, when you smash them, you’ll have cause for celebration and positive thinking – all of which will help you and your business in the long run.

Don’t over promise

When you start out, don’t over promise what you can deliver for your clients – a typical mistake made by startups. This is another surefire way to give yourself sleepless nights. If a client asks whether you can deliver a particular project that’s way out of your current capabilities or comfort zone, find third parties who can deliver the extra help you need and add this cost to your quote.

Find a mentor

Starting a business can be a lonely experience but there’s lots of support out there if you look for it. Get a mentor to support you on your business startup journey. Approach business people you admire or would like to learn from and you’ll be surprised how many entrepreneurs are willing to spare their time.

Create a good work/life balance

When looking after your mental health, you need to put a big focus on your home life and your work/life balance. Making sure you get enough sleep can be a tough challenge, especially if you’re coming up to the launch of a new business or product, but chronic lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety and other mental health conditions. To help you drift off, make sure you switch off your devices and stop using bright screens at least an hour before bed. If getting your 7-8 hours a night is proving too difficult, try to find time for regular naps during quieter moments. Another thing that’s a double winner as it’ll help both your mental health and your sleep quality is getting regular exercise. Again, this can be a huge challenge when you’re exhausted after putting in really long shifts on your new business venture, but you’ll see the benefits really quickly and find you’re more productive as a result.

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Make time for holidays

Taking a holiday can seem like the last thing on your mind when you’re working super hard on a new business, but this is really really important if you’re self employed. So make sure to build holidays into your schedule and don’t feel guilty about it.

Meditate

Learning to meditate might feel like a lot of effort when you don’t have much time to spare, but you’ll thank us when your mind is calmer, more focused and you’re able to switch off from work pressures more easily. Owning a pet has been proven to improve mental health, so if it’s feasible, look into getting a cat or a dog. You can even borrow other people’s now so you can experience the benefits without the commitment. Taking time to read regularly is mindful activity that helps you to forget other distractions and stresses.

 

And finally, if it’s all getting too much for you, you might find it helpful to assign yourself a daily ‘worry time’ when you’re allowed to do all your worrying. There’s a worry time app to help you with this. Whenever you find yourself worrying about something, put it into the app and forget about it until your next scheduled worry time. This might sound bonkers but it’s a well used CBT technique with proven results for reducing anxiety. Give it a go.

Cool words by Lauren, sassy photos by Saskia for Hey Tuesday, London

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