How can entrepreneurs protect their mental health?

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How can Entrepreneurs protect their mental health during the uncertainty of our times? We hear a lot about mental health nowadays and it’s enlightening that more emphasis is placed on driving awareness of what mental health is and supporting people who are going through difficult times. 

Given it’s become a buzzword in today’s culture, especially in the developed world, I wanted to define mental health as I see it and its impact on my life. From the perspective of being a former corporate professional that worked across the globe for large and small software companies for over 17 years, to becoming a solopreneur this year running my own life and career coaching business – and my struggles with mental health from a career and corporate perspective.

I truly believe that mental health is holistic; through managing a balance between mind, body, and spirit, and having techniques to approach them all. Before I delve into the techniques below, I want to share my experiences that led me to finding my place in the mental health space and how it’s become integral to my life.

How I now as an entrepreneur protect my health at all times. Whether it’s through difficult periods such as the loss of a parent, to working as a solo entrepreneur and navigating uncertainty in one’s business, to traveling around the world and the uncertainty to where you might be living. The wisdom and lessons I’ve accumulated all came about as a result of burnout, managing difficult relationships and through a quest of trying to understand myself.

Let me give some context. Having spent 17+ years in the corporate space I’ve had my fair share of mental health challenges. As an ambitious and driven female, I felt the need to constantly be on the go, from long working hours to partying into the late hours. Followed by waking up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym, which meant that I was essentially burning the candles on both ends.

Eventually something had to give. It was in my mid to late twenties when I first experienced overwhelm and had my first ‘burnout’. Having pushed myself to do it all I remember so vividly feeling exhausted and anxious. I couldn’t show up with the energy I required in any part of my life, and I was constantly anxious.

I had never experienced anxiety before.

As a strong independent female working in the big corporate world, I thought I could do it all. I felt I had it all under control, I was after all ‘successful’ in my career and had gotten this far by doing the grind and constantly pushing myself. I had no concept of ‘balance’ or the importance of sleep, eating well and ‘mindfulness’.

Mind you back then there wasn’t as much awareness about what it meant to be ‘mindful’. Corporate culture embodied ‘work hard, play hard’. As a result, I experienced burnout and feeling overwhelmed several times in my life and career; from major decisions such as moving countries, to big career moves, or from relationships challenges. I realised, in reflection, that I didn’t have a balanced approach to managing my mental health.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big proponent of mental health taking a holistic approach; from a mind, body and spirit perspective. I talk about this a lot because the mind and body are so tightly connected, meaning that how you think and feel in your mind will affect your body and how your body feels will affect your mind and mental health. For example, if you’re injured and can’t walk that can severely impact your state of mind and lead to depression, fear, or doubt about yourself. This can be a difficult downward slope and a hard place to get out of. This happened to me recently with my back and really look a lot of mental strength to reframe and reprogram my beliefs. I can now say that through consciousness reprogramming, meditation and reframing my beliefs my back is so much better and healthier. I also FEEL great emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Below I share I how I manage mental health from these three perspectives, and how you can too:

Mind

There are three ways I support my mind. I’m a big fan of journaling or writing down your thoughts on paper. It’s like therapy in a box; getting your jumbled thoughts in your head onto paper can help you make sense of what’s going on up there. I often find solutions to problems through this process or get clarity on a situation that I found myself ruminating over. Try it the next time you find yourself stuck in your head.

The next thing is finding a creative hobby that you can funnel your energy into. I love interior design and so through the pandemic I enrolled in an interior design course. It was a godsend that I had that as an outlet!

Finally, speaking to a mental health professional like a therapist or coach has so many benefits. There’s a reason they’re professionals but finding the right one for you, that you connect with and trust, is imperative.

Body

The body needs sleep, good nutrition and water! These are my necessities when managing my physical wellbeing. Did you know that sleep is THE most important aspect of managing your physical wellbeing? Have you ever felt sleep deprived and felt like you couldn’t function or do anything at work? Aim for 7-8 hours. Followed by this is the need for water. As humans were made up of 70% water so it’s vital that we replenish our water reserves in order to function and keep the body actively working. Our organs like the brain, digestive system and skin require it to function. And finally good wholesome nutrition. Where possible I try to eat as clean and unprocessed as possible. 

Spirit

The spirit is maybe the one that gets the least attention but is gaining more and more awareness. What do I mean by ‘spirit’? Or ‘soul’. To me it’s consciousness, connection to a higher power, energy and self-awareness to who you are and your patterns, beliefs and conditioning. The way I manage my spiritual wellbeing is through meditation, breath work and prayer or intention setting. Honouring time for yourself to connect with you, the present moment. I love incorporating breathwork with mediation and a prayer or intentions. I use a mixture of Dr Joe Dispenza guided meditations, the app Calm, YouTube mediations and my own! One of my favourite things is to set intentions on a Sunday for the week ahead and on mornings where I mediate and am drawn to feeling connected with myself – which isn’t always but I notice that I far calmer and more productive when I do. 

Remember that balance is key, and your mental health is just that – a balancing and mindfulness act. Being intentional about your health requires conscious activity and a willingness to prioritise how you feel for you mind, body and spirit.

I hope this helps and as always if you’re feeling overwhelmed, burned out or are suffering from severe anxiety, seek out professional mental health support.