With January being famous for its most depressing Monday of the year and with Bell's Lets talk campaign to draw awareness around mental health issues, I'm here to provide the Entrepreneurs perspective on mental health.
As an entrepreneur, you are on a constant roller coaster of highs and lows, and anxiety seems to be a natural by-product. When sales are low, when faced with staff turnover, when things don't go as expected, anxiety sets in. While these challenges are part of the entrepreneur roller coaster, I always felt that I had more of a heightened response than the average entrepreneur. Turns out, I was wrong.
I'm part of a mastermind group where entrepreneurs from different industries come together online to discuss issues and solutions. It's also a place we come to vent and stay motivated. I turned to this group to gauge how many Entrepreneurs faced mental health challenges. To my shock, the response was absolutely overwhelming and oddly enough, it offered a feeling of community.
It seemed that I was definitely not the only person dealing with this and none of us were to ashamed to admit it. The stigma associated with anxiety or other mental health issues was outweighed by the benefit of talking about it and sharing personal experiences. Everyone wanted to know what worked for the other person. We were all hoping that one solution would be the magic bullet to the problem.
The list below are things (outside of medication)that resonated with these entrepreneurs and stood out as having been effective. Best of all, they are things you could start doing now.
I know, you've heard about it and it's not you. Sitting still and chanting and emptying your mind is about as appealing as being required to sit with technical support for hours explaining to them yet again that you're sure your computer is plugged in.You need to rethink this option.
As an entrepreneur with ADHD I felt that meditation would be virtually impossible. My brain seems to move at the speed of light, I jump from topic to topic every 10 seconds and sitting still for more than 30 seconds at
a time has proven to be virtually impossible.
Then I tried meditating. I hated every second of it. I counted down the minutes, I could not stop my mind from racing and I kept fidgeting mainly because I was told I should resist the temptation. By my 4th session, things started to change. I started feeling a sense of calm. I noticed that I was having an easier time relaxing my mind. My mind never stopped for an extended period, but it felt like it was finally taking a few pauses in the race to keep running. Most importantly, it was helping reduce my feelings of anxiety. With continuous practice, I literally found a technique that I could use at any time to calm myself and gain perspective.
It works. Honestly. Research shows that it releases endorphins which in turn release a positive feeling in your body and helps with anxiety and depression. I started waking up at 5:30 am to squeeze in a workout. The first few weeks were hell. I hated every second. But slowly, my body started craving it, but more importantly, my mind started craving it. It quickly became routine. Now when I don't go to the gym, I miss the peace it brings me at the start of a day.
A 5:30 a.m. workout isn't for everyone but there is always time in your day to squeeze it in. Get up from your desk every couple of hours and go for a 15 minute walk to clear your mind. You do have the time. No one is that busy. Nope, not even you.
3. Read Inspiring books.
I love to read about hugely successful entrepreneurs. Behind most successful entrepreneurs, is a long story of failures which ironically makes me feel less alone as a business person. Read about Elon Musk and Richard Branson for a glimpse at how many up's and down's they encountered in getting where they are today. They weren't "lucky", they simply refused to give up.
If business books aren't your thing, my other go-to is Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It provides insight into how a man survived the holocaust by deciding that while almost everything could be taken from him, they couldn't take away how he chose to respond to his situation. That knowledge kept him from giving up on life. That should definitely inspire you to look at your challenges differently.
4. Join a group.
I joined a mastermind group and a mentoring program. I also took the next step and set up a board of advisors to hear other perspectives on how I was doing things. While these people couldn't solve my problems, the insight they provide is often enough to keep me on track. Sometimes we simply need to be heard by our peers. Sometimes hearing similar trials and tribulations from others is all that's needed to make one feel less anxious. Knowing we are not unique in our struggles tends to be comforting.
Have methods that work for you as an entrepreneur? Please share them in the hopes that they help others who struggle.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to dissuade any one from the use of medication or seeing their physician. Often people are looking for ways to make small changes in their lives for a big overall impact and these tips are meant to provide exactly that.
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