March 2, 2021 6 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
If you believe in social media, there is every entrepreneur out there who kills it, takes exciting risks, and tirelessly pursues their goals.
Unfortunately, people rarely try so hard to reveal the darker part: the insecurity, the fear, the self-doubt. It’s not that it’s not there. The truth is that mental health problems abound in startup culture: According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health problems, compared with 48% of non-entrepreneurs.
There are several likely reasons entrepreneurs grapple with mental health: Running a business is time consuming, often lonely, and failure is common. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that in our pursuit of project expertise and perfection, we often hesitate to be open to our struggles, which only makes matters worse.
Building a startup is not a sprint; It’s a marathon. To reach the finish line, you need to take care of your sanity. Here is how.
Related: 8 Self-Care Tips From Extremely Successful Entrepreneurs
The importance of sleep
Struggling with lack of sleep is often seen as a badge of honor in the startup world. After all, Tim Cook and Marissa Mayer are known to only have three to four hours a night – why shouldn’t everyone else?
Counterpoint: Jeff Bezos is a strong advocate of eight hours of daily eye. Mayer also missed an important dinner with the managing directors in 2014 thanks to a long nap she took after being awake for 20 hours. This is not an argument with Mayer, but a reminder of how indispensable sleep really is.
Even if you are physically awake when you should, sleep deprivation can seriously affect your performance. The psychologist and author Dr. Kimberly Ann Lemke suggests maximizing sleep by tracking your activities throughout the day, making sure you get enough sunlight, and are as active both physically and mentally as possible. Take inventory of your surroundings at night and identify things that could affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
For her own seminars, Lemke asks her clients to consider a good nighttime ritual for a child and then see how it fits in with what they do for themselves.
“It’s amazing how they look at me and then laugh because they know how bad our nightly rituals are as adults,” she says. “If a child’s bedtime is 8:00 PM, no one would keep the child active until 7:59 PM and then instruct the child to go to sleep by 8:00 PM. As adults, however, we work on our computers, pay bills, or manage part of our lives until we have to go to sleep. ”
Instead, she suggests making a conscious effort to relax before bed by either walking, breathing deeply, reading, or whatever else will calm you down and put you in a peaceful state of mind.
Related: Self Care for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs
Establish and maintain connections
The startup culture is isolating. Because of its encompassing nature, it is easy to prioritize work over family and friends, which in turn leads to greater isolation. Covid-19 has made these relationships difficult to maintain and exacerbated the problem.
But as humans we need connections. Psychiatrist and former entrepreneur Michael A. Freeman, who co-authored the NIMH study, advises against letting your support network wither. “Don’t let your business break your ties with people,” he advises. When you get depressed, friends and family can be powerful weapons.
In our industry we are particularly prone to projecting a “Fake it ’til you make it” attitude. Social media can be harmful precisely because it gives the wrong idea that everyone around us is always fine.
The truth is, everyone, no matter how successful, has bad days. Instead of suppressing these feelings and pretending they don’t exist, we need to be honest about what we are experiencing, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or burnout.
As a leader, it’s important to create conversation space where colleagues can talk about how they’re feeling. At my company, JotForm, I was open with my employees about the way I was dealing with the pandemic. This culture of openness enables conversations that make connecting easier and let everyone know that they are not alone.
Gratitude and wellbeing are closely related. Research has shown that those who report feelings and gratitude enjoy higher levels of positive emotions such as happiness, optimism, and joy. negative emotions such as anger, depression and shame are reduced.
While some studies have found that certain practices, like keeping a gratitude journal, have limited psychological benefits, the same cannot be said of real gratitude towards those around you.
Showing appreciation actually has a strong ripple effect, writes Shawn Achor, co-founder and CEO of GoodThink, in his book “Big Potential: How Transforming Striving for Success Enhances Our Performance, Happiness, and Wellbeing.
“Praise creates what I call a” virtuous cycle “- the more you give, the more you improve your own offering,” he writes. When praise is given effectively, the brain functions at a higher level. The more praise we give, the better the recipient’s performance. “The research I’ve done over the past five years shows that the more you can authentically praise everyone in your ecosystem, the more your individual and collective potential increases.”
As founders, the gratitude we show our employees can have a profound impact on their mental and our own well-being. A simple thank you, for example, will not only make your employees feel recognized and valued, but will also increase your happiness.
It is also important not only to celebrate great victories, but also to acknowledge less obvious achievements and contributions, especially among those who make a clear effort to acknowledge others.
“Sometimes projects fail despite the heroic efforts of a team,” wrote social personality psychologist Suzanne Vickberg in an article for LinkedIn that summarized the results of a survey on how employees prefer recognition. “Not every role is closely related to recognizable successes. Some people’s contributions are powerful but less visible. “Of the 16,000 people who took part in the survey, many said they appreciated the recognition of the“ efforts they have made, their knowledge and expertise, and their commitment to living the core values of the company ”.
When we lift each other up, we create an environment that allows us to be the best version of ourselves. It makes us better as employees, better as entrepreneurs and, above all, better than people.
Related: 10 Self-Care Gifts For Everyone On Your List – Including You