It’s no secret that individuals across the globe are beginning to see the importance of mental health. The stigma that for so long kept people from seeking help or confronting their anxiety and depression is finally falling aside, allowing many of us to enter into a journey of healing. And while people of all walks of life should view mental health as a necessary aspect of balanced well-being, it’s becoming clear that entrepreneurs are among the most that let it go by the wayside.
Entrepreneurial mindsets can often be the perfect habitat for anxiety and depression. Having an overwhelming amount of responsibilities and the added pressure of sustaining a successful business can take a toll that many entrepreneurs leave unattended. These pressures can then snowball into stress triggers that will eventually affect their physical health as well.
So why are entrepreneurs particularly susceptible to poor mental health? And what are some key indicators to let you know when it’s time to slow down?
1. Praise for Sacrifices
The general depiction of successful entrepreneurs is someone who is often sleep-deprived, mentally distant, and constantly working late nights at the office, all for the sake of personal achievement. Many fail to maintain healthy relationships with their family and friends, seeing success as being more important. This perpetuated narrative leaves all aspiring entrepreneurs with the idea that to be successful means giving up the very aspects of our lives that contribute to our well-being. It promotes the idea that any moment spent not directed towards growing your business is time wasted.
As entrepreneurs, we praise ourselves – and others like us – for making these sacrifices and see it as a necessary price to pay for the ultimate goal of success. When you begin to equate your self-worth with your achievements, it can lead you towards a slippery slope that negatively affects your mental health.
2. High Expectations
Many entrepreneurs can live at the mercy of high expectations created by both themselves as well as others. Due to “impression management,” it’s common for us to believe that in order to be considered competent by our stakeholders, we should appear infallible at all times. While there’s nothing wrong with setting high standards for yourself with measurable milestones, no entrepreneur is impermeable to error and mistakes. Like our previous point, this perpetuated identity of the entrepreneur makes it all the more difficult to seek help as a result of shame and personal blame when things don’t go as planned.
3. Predisposed to Mental Health Challenges
Indeed, being constantly sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated, isolated, and financially constrained are all clear indicators of the negative correlation between entrepreneurship and mental health. However, there’s another reason that isn’t often explored. Studies are beginning to show that entrepreneurial personalities often have a higher likelihood of mental health challenges than others. The qualities that often make for promising entrepreneurs – creativity, adaptability, independence, audaciousness, etc. – can be traced back to early experiences of shame, anxiety, ADHD, or depression. Because of this new information, it’s becoming all the more important for entrepreneurs to take the initiative when it comes to managing their mental health, whether through therapy or mindfulness practices.
Entrepreneur or not, our mental health is just as important as our physical health. If you resonate with any of these points, you may want to consider strategies like seeing a therapist, journaling, engaging in meditation, or confiding in a friend.