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March 9

Mental Health Tips for Entrepreneurs

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As an entrepreneur or small business owner, the ups and downs of managing your work can make maintaining your mental health particularly difficult. In one day, you can feel on top of the world maybe because you've made a sale or connected with a good business referral, and then the next moment feel devastated because of negative feedback or a bad review. Being an entrepreneur means that it is incredibly important to focus on your mental health so that your business can succeed and you can avoid burnout. 

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, here are some tips for managing your mental health.

Journal Your Fears

Getting clear about what is hard about being an entrepreneur is the first step to managing those anxieties. I remember when I first started my therapy practice, I would stay up late obsessing over my website and tweaking each little image to make sure it was in the right spot. My anxiety about being a business owner wouldn't let me relax and sleep. But my anxiety wasn't really about if the images on my page were in the right spot, it was whether or not I would make enough money to replace the salary of the job I had just quit. When I listed out and confronted my money fears, I was better able to come up with an actual plan that addressed that fear. 

Take time to journal about your fears and then move forward with an action plan or contingency plan based on those fears. Get support and mentoring around those fears. 

Create a Vision Board

The joy of being your own boss is that you can create a life that works for you and your family. Sitting down and thinking through why you wanted to have your own business is a powerful motivator. I highly recommend visualizing what your life looks like once your business is providing for you the way you want it to. Are you working 3 days a week? Do you end every day at 4? Do you start your days with a hike? Are you able to take multiple vacations a year? Don't hold back on what you want.

Creating either a physical or a virtual vision board with images that represent what you want from your business is powerful. Our brains respond well to visual cues. A vision board can help keep you motivated and centered on what your goals are. You can also record affirmations in the form of statements of what your ideal life will look like. 

When I find myself trying to make a business decision, I reference my vision board and see if that decision would align with my values and bring me closer to where I want to be or move me farther away. 

Separate Personal Worth From Business Success

I remember my first summer in private practice and things got very slow. I work a lot with teens and families and everyone was traveling and on vacation. I knew that was the reason things were slow but I still found myself feeling like a failure and like going into private practice was a mistake. Then things picked up again when school started and I was back to feeling on top of the world. Throughout all of that, I was still the same, hardworking person and I learned that I had to be kind to myself if things weren't going exactly the way I wanted. It is so important to remember that many factors go into your success as an entrepreneur and it is often not about how hard you work. Learn the rhythms of your business and be kind to yourself if things don't go well. 

Build A Support Network

I can't stress this enough. Having people you can reach out to for advice or even just to complain to about the struggles of entrepreneurship, is essential to not burning out. I have success as an owner of two businesses that I run because of the people I know. In 2018, I started a coworking space for therapists. I had no idea what I was doing and didn't even know where to look for support. A few months after opening my space I remember feeling totally overwhelmed and unsure if I wanted to continue with coworking. I was out walking and passed a coworking space that was having an open house. I walked in and met the owner who ended up introducing me to a whole network of space owners who helped me create the successful space I have now. 

A network allows you to bounce off ideas and get you through difficult times. As social creatures, it's important to be around people who understand us and our unique challenges. Even if someone is in a different field, if they know the ups and downs of being a business owner, they can provide wonderful support. Some of my best new ideas have come after talking with colleagues over a cup of coffee. Investment in your network will be the best investment you can make in your business and your personal mental health. 

Build A Schedule That Works For You

My brain turns off somewhere around 7 pm. I have frequently told myself the lie "Oh I'll work on that when the kids go to bed." That never happens, I inevitably end up on the couch watching TV. When I'm more intentional about doing work when my brain is working its best, I am much more efficient and find myself much less stressed. It's easy to think that you constantly need to be hustling when you are an entrepreneur, but that's not actually the best way to manage your time. The constant hustle culture will lead you to burn out quickly. Pay attention to when you do your best work and feel the most efficient, and reserve your work for those times. If you're having a hard time focusing, take a break. You are your most important asset and you want to treat yourself well. 

Additionally, using productivity techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or time blocking (doing all your similar tasks at the same time instead of switching from one task to another) can help you stay on track and make the most of your working hours.

Investing in yourself, good systems, and good supports, will help your mental health as an entrepreneur and as a result, help your business.

Anne Rice, LPC, LMHC, CPCS

About the author

Anne is a licensed therapist in both New York and Georgia. She is the owner of Firefly Wellness Counseling located in the Atlanta area. Her team works with all members of the family struggling with anxiety, depression, and big life changes. Anne loves helping adults and teens navigate life's difficulties by creating a comfortable and safe place to share anything and everything that is on their minds. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Princeton University and her graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.


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