(This is not formal health advice, just a health ponder.) Two weeks ago, I got hit by a wave of anxiety and depression. For those who experience chronic anxiety, you might know the feeling of anxiety all too well. Your body is in a constant state of "on" and you feel the anticipation of danger for hours, days, or weeks at a time.
Growing up in a family with a history of mental illness, I was already familiar with the importance of staying float of my own state-of-mind. Regardless if others understood me, I learned to create space and acceptance over time as I got older.
Though in business, there came the true test of mental power and stability that every business owner endured whether they realized it or not. Juggling through tasks, expectations, and people, it can feel like an overcast of personal challenges where you're working day and night until the sun finally peeks through.
But, you know. Who has time to manage their mental health in their already demanding schedule? *shrug*
In the past 30 days, how much did you sacrifice for your business, and how much of your business did you sacrifice for yourself? Sit back and ponder.
According to a study by Michael Freeman:
2X more likely to suffer from depression
6X more likely to suffer from ADHD
3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse
10X more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
2X more likely to have psychiatric hospitalization
2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts
I saw these numbers and I was, unfortunately, not surprised.
Here are a few pieces of advice during your loneliest times:
1. Act on your mental health.
Starting a business is the loneliest game. No matter how many communities or colleagues you have, your business is your business. Your struggles are your struggles. Your failures are your failures. And, your successes are your successes. Navigating these situations might feel like a never-ending cycle of bobbing above and below water. Being aware of your mental health and acting on it allows you to drain the water to give you the space to breathe regardless of the business cycle you're in.
2. Identify your triggers.
Identifying your anxiety triggers is the first step to proactive mental awareness. Keep a mental health journal. When you feel depressed or anxious, write down your feelings, what you're doing, and how others have been interacting with or around you. Utilize this journal for a month and look back to understand how you can adjust based on the level of anxiety you're experiencing. By documenting your triggers, you are able to understand how to best prevent them.
3. Celebrate your success.
In a world that fantasizes about the glamorous life of a successful entrepreneur, most business owners fail to understand the difference between their own success and how society defines success for them. Your success should always be what you've done today versus yesterday, not what you've done today in comparison to someone else's. If you're constantly chasing after someone else's successes, you'll never be satisfied and end up stressed and unfulfilled.
4. Avoid toxic people.
If you had a choice between 10 bad apples or 1 good apple, which would you choose? As many say, you are a product of the community you grow and surround yourself with. Around 4 years ago, I realized I was spending time with people who were the total opposite of who I wanted to be. I wasn't growing, I didn't feel supported, and I didn't feel valued or heard. As an entrepreneur, it's important to find friends and colleagues you identify with and who push you to be a better person. And, if not a better person, they're happy with who you are and you are comfortable being 100% yourself.
Finding peace internally and with your accomplishments is a challenge when you're thrown new obstacles in your direction every single day. We hope you continue to find time to celebrate yourself and seize the day when it comes to the world of entrepreneurship and your mental health!
Before you leave, answer this:
Where are you on your mental health journey? Are you still learning how to manage stress? Or, have you developed the self-awareness to understand your stress and anxiety triggers?
I would love to hear about your mental health story.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.