It is common to find stories of entrepreneurs who talk about their journey through struggles and the perseverance they needed to find the success they enjoy. On the other hand, little is said about the mental health struggles that many entrepreneurs go through caused by entrepreneurial stress. The entrepreneurial battles with perfectionism, meeting targets, and always wanting to seem to have every situation under control contribute to mental strains that could result in other psychosomal disorders such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders among others. This is evidenced by the recent suicides of renowned entrepreneurs such as Kate Spade and Antony Bourdain.
Studies show that over 70 percent of entrepreneurs actively battle with mental health problems. Studies established that entrepreneurs have a higher likelihood of depression compared to the general population. This incidence of mental health challenges influenced by entrepreneurism can be further highlighted by the fact that around 75 percent of startups backed by ventures fail, and only less than 5 percent survive to their initial projection. This gives testimony of the difficulty of getting things done in the entrepreneurial world.
How to Handle Entrepreneurial Stress
With all the stresses of entrepreneurship, it is imperative that entrepreneurs devise suitable ways to deal with the associated stresses of making business goals come to fruition. Stress management helps lengthen the lifespan of your entrepreneurial career. This is backed by the idea that your thoughts and actions as an entrepreneur should be long-term, and taking care of yourself should be part of it. The inevitable bumps on the path along the entrepreneurial journey can be eased and overcome through effective stress management:
- Break down the problem to know what exactly is stressing you. This entails taking the time to think about the problem, for instance, deadlines closing up or financial constraints to achieving a certain goal. Break down the problem by reducing the timelines into things that can be solved immediately, extending that to the things that can be addressed later, and working up a plan to address them.
- One should consider taking a break for a reasonable length of time, enough to clear your mind and restructure your thoughts. This could help you finish your work even faster after reenergizing.
- Regular exercise is an effective way to relieve entrepreneurial stress, besides having immense value for your overall health. Exercising multiple times a week consistently is good for stress management. This could involve hitting the gym or engaging in a team sports that fit into your schedule. To make this more fun, pick something that you enjoy doing to help you stay consistent.
- Entrepreneurism is fueled by the desire to have perfect outcomes that influence success. Sometimes wanting to do it all causes stress. It is important to accept that you cannot do it all. Consider delegating some duties to members of your team and trust that they will get the job done.
- Find people to confide in about your struggles and other issues in business to help you find solutions to the challenges. Networking with people in the same industry can help you learn ways to deal with similar issues that other people in your industry face.
Tips to Achieve Balance and Improve the Quality of Life
Establishing your priorities is vital for the achievement of a work-life balance. Everything you need to do should be ranked based on importance. Ranking should include everything, including your business, family, friends and other interests. Doing this will help ease your time allocation to the high priority matters in your business and your personal life, and ease up the stress of overlapping interests from the different facets of your life.
You should unplug from matters concerning work when having quality time with your family, though it is not always an easy thing to do. This should involve doing the things that you and your family enjoy doing. As an entrepreneur, your business is part of your life and finding ways to enjoy such quality time off work with family will play a big role in balancing the two.
It is also vital that you be true to yourself. Many entrepreneurs go through a lot of struggles to manage the impression they put across of themselves, mostly to appear infallible. This could be challenging for those experiencing entrepreneurial stress. Seek help when you know you need it to avoid further deterioration, and also understand that there are no perfect scenarios. Having such knowledge will make it easier to adjust to situations and ease up your work-life balance.
About the author: Dr. Jeff Nalin, PsyD is an award-winning licensed Clinical Psychologist. He is the Founder and Chief Clinical Director at Paradigm Malibu Treatment Center with locations in Malibu and San Francisco.