Whether you’ve recently started your own business or you’ve been in the entrepreneurial game for several years, you understand the massive impact that being self-employed can have on your mental health. There are reasons that the majority of people choose to work for someone else.
Working for yourself is a vastly different way of life from being an employee. Being an entrepreneur often affects every other area of our lives, such as friendships, relationships, and family life. It’s easy to become consumed by your business, and the stress and anxiety that come with that can really take its toll over time. In fact, research from 2015 has shown that 49 percent of entrepreneurs said that they have experienced mental health problems.
That’s not to say that entrepreneurship inevitably causes mental health problems. Many seasoned business owners have managed to strike the right balance so that their business gets all the attention it deserves and requires while still finding time to enjoy everything else that life offers. However, this balance can be a tricky one to find, and if you’re struggling, these self-care tips might be just what you need.
For those slightly more old school entrepreneurs who might not be familiar with the relatively new concept of self-care, the World Health Organization describes it as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” In layman’s terms, the term is most commonly used to describe routine tasks that a person can do or a regular practice they can develop, to improve or maintain their mental and physical health.
The following are ten self-care practices that will help you establish and maintain your mental health.
1. Set Working Hours
It might seem simple, but many business owners never set strict working hours for themselves, or if they do, they don’t stick to them. Setting strict working hours is important because it means that when you’re off, you’re off. You can relax, rest, enjoy time spent with loved ones or take time doing the things you love. Having a schedule can help you provide real respite for your mind and body. You can go back to work the next day feeling revived and ready.
2. Turn Off Your Notifications
Taking time off work means no email notifications. Time off work isn’t really time off work if you see those emails popping up on your phone. Even if you manage to exert the willpower not to read them, they’ve still caught your eye and registered in your mind. They’ve still taken you mentally away from your downtime and placed you momentarily back in the role of business owner. The constant distraction makes it difficult to fully enjoy your time off. You’re not maximizing the benefits of that time for your body and mind.
3. Delegate Or Outsource
It might sound cliche, but even entrepreneurs don’t have to do it all by themselves. Trying to be the accountant, marketing manager, sales director, human resources manager, and everything else in your business is just too much for one person. It causes incredibly high stress levels, which don’t do your mental or physical health any favors. Start delegating. If you’ve got other people working for you, give them more responsibilities. And if you don’t, start outsourcing at least some of your work. Hire a virtual assistant to look after your administrative tasks or a social media manager to care for your digital marketing needs. Find some way to share the burden.
4. Make Time For Hobbies
Hobbies are significant for overall wellness. Many business owners spend all of their time working crazy hours running their businesses and doing little or nothing in their time off because they’re too exhausted and mentally drained. They find themselves vegging out in front of Netflix, binging on the latest show. Having hobbies helps fill that time off with something you’ll actually look forward to and enjoy doing. Try taking up a sport or going to dance classes. Learning a new language can be a great way to spend time off. Going hiking and taking photographs are excellent hobbies. Whatever it is, find a hobby that you can enjoy outside of work and maybe includes some time with friends and family.
5. Take Proper Breaks
This is so important and super basic but commonly overlooked or ignored. Taking proper breaks throughout your workday has several benefits. It helps to break up your day and re-energize you to continue to be productive. It helps you to relax and regain your focus if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes it just feels great to step outside, breathe in some fresh air, and stretch the limbs.
6. Build A Support System
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely life if you don’t have other business owners in your circle. Without a support system, you may feel like you are failing or that compared to others, you don’t know what you are doing. Building your own support system can help you find like-minded people who can offer solidarity, ideas, understanding, and support. Check out what local groups exist in your town and city for business owners, for example, your local Chamber of Commerce. You can also look at entrepreneurial groups on Facebook or Linkedin. Do this, and suddenly, you might find yourself feeling more positive about your business.
7. Sleep Well
There is plenty of information on the internet about the importance of a good night’s sleep on your mental health. Yet, research consistently shows us that Americans are simply not sleeping enough. If you only take one step for your self-care, let getting more sleep be it. When you’re getting the right amount of sleep, everything else in your life becomes more manageable.
8. Check-In With Your Emotional Health
Do you ever feel like you’re just operating on autopilot? Taking time to really check-in with your emotional health is a handy self-care tool. Often, we’re too busy to honestly notice how we feel. When we’re not truly aware of our feelings, it is challenging to notice negative patterns (such as constantly feeling anxious) before they become more significant problems. Meditation and mindfulness are great ways to see where you are at with your emotional health. Try making time for these in your life, whether you do it once a week or every morning. Check out apps like Headspace and Calm to help you get started.
9. Make Sure To Get Plenty Of Fresh Air
The power of getting a little fresh air is hugely under-estimated as a way to manage our mental health. True, getting some fresh air isn’t a replacement for therapy or medication. Still, it can be a super helpful way to avoid ever reaching the point where you find yourself needing those more expensive treatment options. Setting aside a couple of hours every weekend, or just thirty minutes on your days off, to take a jog down to the beach, walk the dog around the local park or just sit on a park bench with a coffee watching people bustling past can be surprisingly restorative for the busy entrepreneur’s mind.
10.Book Time Off
Finally, make sure to book time off work. This doesn’t mean booking a day off here and there. Set yourself some actual vacation time, and take it. You’ve earned it.
A Google search of self-care will often result in countless blog posts or magazine articles recommending bubble baths, expensive skincare products, and treating yourself to luxurious brunches. Unfortunately, many companies have figured how to capitalize on the increasing awareness of self-care and the growing desire among younger generations to master it. In truth, self-care is much less glamorous and much more boring but infinitely more effective in the long run than the products these companies are trying to sell you.
The ten tips listed above are essential for entrepreneurs hoping to create a self-care practice that genuinely improves their quality of life. Sure, add in the bubble baths and champagne when you can. But without putting in place some of the tips listed above, they may not be enough.
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