Starting a business is a difficult task that requires a lot of effort and time. Entrepreneur’s path can be stressful, exhausting and anxious. But, it is important to remember that entrepreneurs are not alone in their journey. You will face obstacles that not many from your close circles can relate to, and it can be discouraging. If you are struggling at work, stress can deteriorate your mental health, causing issues such as burnout, depression and other mental illnesses.
Mental health is a crucial element of a person’s well-being. When it comes to enterprises, it’s essential to take care of the mental health of entrepreneurs and their employees. Learning how to look out for signs of struggles at work and helping people overcome difficulties is a great way to promote a healthy work environment.
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How Does Mental Health Affect Businesses?
Entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from mental health concerns, according to a study at UC Berkeley. The study showed that 72% of the entrepreneurs are affected by mental health issues, which was much higher than that of the comparison group. Also, entrepreneurs were more likely to report a history of depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use conditions (12%) and bipolar diagnosis (11%).
If these issues are not addressed, they can lead to personal and professional problems. It can negatively impact focus, decision-making, social interactions, effective communication and overall motivation. For those who may already have mental health problems, work pressure and stress can worsen the symptoms.
In the case of employees, it can contribute to absenteeism or a situation in which employees miss several days of work. A study shows employees are three times more likely to stay at home due to mental health issues rather than physical health. The most common reasons for absenteeism are depression, stress and anxiety. Other factors also play a vital role in taking days off from work. When employees are dissatisfied with their position or are not engaged in the work process, they lose motivation and their productivity drops. As a result of it, staying at home seems to them a better alternative than doing something they do not enjoy.
Do Entrepreneurs Get Depressed?
The path to entrepreneurship can be lonely. Challenges that not many people can relate to, and a lack of support and networks, could end up affecting your mental health.
A study shows that entrepreneurs are 30% more likely to suffer from depression than non-entrepreneurs. It is connected with the struggles to implement one’s vision into reality, sleepless nights, strict deadlines, lack of private life and financial obligations.
The reasons for depression include:
- financial problems
- problems in relationships
- not feeling in control
- long working hours
It’s easy to take mental health for granted, as it is not as tangible as physical health. In the rush for success, entrepreneurs sacrifice their time off to get even more things done and fix existing problems. But not having time to unwind and relax could lead to grave consequences.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
It is okay to sometimes feel sad and hopeless, however, when these feelings become persistent, it is time to look more into it.
Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It often comes with burnout and anxiety.
Some of the signs of it are sleeping difficulty, being unable to focus and concentrate, difficulty in maintaining relationships, sadness, irritability, a lack of joy, and problems with eating. In other words, not having the same energy levels you used to have.
There are physical symptoms, too. These include the feeling of fight or flight response, stomach aches, headaches, feeling overwhelmed, jittery, and panic attacks. These symptoms must be present for more than 6 months to be considered severe depression instead of a mild depressive episode.
Not looking for professional help or not talking to your close ones can make the situation more isolating. It can be a vicious circle when the partner or family don’t pay attention to the situation to avoid stressful or unpleasant conversations. Also, there’s still some stigma about mental health. Men are told to be tough and don’t show any signs of weakness. But there’s no shame in talking about your mental health and reaching out for help.
Other Mental Health Pitfalls for Entrepreneurs
Depression is not the only concern for entrepreneurs. Burnout, anxiety and substance abuse are some of the mental health issues that entrepreneurs might experience. Other concerns are:
- Loneliness. Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on their own, but being alone is different from being lonely. You can spend many hours a day socialising with your co-workers or friends and still feel lonely.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder characterised by hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity.
- Bipolar disorder is a disorder that affects your mood. Sometimes you may feel high (during manic episodes) or very low (during depressive episodes).
- Eating problems. These include losing appetite, binge eating and underrating. If it happens once or twice it is not a problem, but if these problems affect how you think and behave, then it is time to consult someone about it.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD). This disorder is divided into two main parts: obsessions (unwelcome thoughts, worries or doubts) and compulsions (repetitive actions).
- Panic attacks are your body’s way of showing you that something is different from usual. It can be a response to danger, stress, fear and excitement.
- Alcohol addiction. It is common to have a glass of beer, wine or something stronger after work, especially after a stressful day. But it can turn into an addiction.
- Insomnia is when you have difficulty sleeping, it may be falling or staying asleep.
- Suicidal feelings are thoughts about ending one’s life. It is usually connected with the feeling of hopelessness, desperation, uselessness and being overwhelmed.
If you experience any of these mental health concerns, it is important to turn to help. It can be your friends, family or colleagues. Sometimes, even taking a test online and logging in all the symptoms you might experience, can help you understand whether you need to go see a practising psychologist or not.
How To Improve Your Mental Health As an Entrepreneur?
If you suspect your venture has taken a toll on your mental health, here are some recommendations on how to stay healthy:
- Talk to people. Show your vulnerable side, and admit that you’re struggling. Ask for professional help. A psychologist can help you heal through therapy and give you the tools you need to overcome emotional obstacles.
- Self-care routine. Exercise, meditation and yoga are activities that can help you relax and lower the amount of anxiety you feel by being present.
- Work-life balance. It may feel hard to take time for yourself and separate home from work, especially if you are doing a home office. But remember to take breaks to exercise and to spend time with your family and friends. Try to find a routine or create a schedule for your work hours, and that will help you not overload yourself with work.
- Seek inspiration. Research other entrepreneurs that you admire. You may find out that they experienced situations similar to yours and learn how did they overcome them. Discover how they evolved, and learn from their experience. If possible, find other entrepreneurs whom you can connect with. You may have the same problems and can create a support group together.
- Remember your motivation. Why did you start your business? What made you follow the entrepreneurial path? Rediscover your motivation and trace a route of how you got to the place where you are at. It doesn’t matter if you get off your path sometimes, at least you know you do have a path. Set realistic goals that you can measure and accomplish in a certain amount of time. This will give you constant motivation in your day-to-day life.
- Think long-term. Understand that this is a process, and it takes time. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them. Take a break and return to your work with even more motivation and inspiration.
It’s also important for the people around entrepreneurs to show support. Just asking “How are you?” can make a huge impact on someone’s mood. Feeling someone’s care and support can make all the difference.
As an entrepreneur, you might face many challenges. Some of them could be mental health issues like depression, insomnia or anxiety. It’s crucial to take care of your well-being as an entrepreneur and make sure you don’t overexert yourself at work. Moreover, taking time to evaluate how your workers might be feeling can make a workspace full of understanding, harmony and support.
Remember that you are not alone, and many other entrepreneurs are facing mental health problems just like you do. Maintain a balance between work and your personal life and if needed, reach out for help.