Keep calm and carry on: managing your mental health as a business owner
In the UK, mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health issue, with 7.8% of people diagnosed with it. Even more concerning is the fact that entrepreneurship and mental health are negatively linked. By which we mean the former can lead to the latter. One study found business owners are at higher risk of ADHD, depression, and substance abuse. Another study found a link between entrepreneurial tendencies and bipolar disorder.
As a business owner, there is tremendous pressure to be a good leader. Usually, this is at the expense of your own mental wellbeing. It’s a vicious cycle that can feel very lonely. Big decisions rest on your shoulders that affect the livelihoods of you and all your staff. But you’re not alone. Every business owner will go through the same thing. So how can you be a successful leader while still looking after your mental health?
What contributes to mental health challenges?
The reasons for these trends might come down to some simple answers no business owner is immune to:
- Stress and poor stress management
- Social isolation – running a business is a lot of hard work and sometimes we don’t leave time for socialising
- Shame/impression management – the idea we must be seen as having our lives together
- Limited access to mental health resources
- Predisposition to mental health problems
- Identity and self-worth becoming attached to our company
These feelings are shared by all business owners. What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail? What if something goes wrong? If you let these thoughts continue, you’re just going to spiral downwards. It’s okay to ask for help.
How can we look after our mental health?
The clear option is to monitor the above factors that can cause you to be more at risk of mental health problems. Spotting the signs early is key in preventing further issues and keeping you happy. If you feel like you’re under a lot of stress, it’s definitely worth taking some time out to focus on how to better manage your stress and work to reduce that feeling.
Chronic stress won’t only lead to underperformance in your business, but it could seep down into your workforce, and lead to health issues such as heart disease, headaches, sleep problems, weight gain, premature ageing, and memory problems.
We understand it’s hard to keep your business and health in balance and make time for both work and life. It’s a symptom of our fast-moving society. But the truth is, if you don’t put effort into nurturing either one, it can have devastating impacts on your life and business. All the hard work you put into starting your business might be for nothing if you have to take time out to focus on getting your mental health where it should be. But, you can rebuild a business, your life and mental health, on the other hand, is much more delicate and important. If you get to a place where your mental health takes a back seat to your business, it can affect your success but also those closest to you.
Places to turn
Most importantly, if you’re struggling with mental health problems, the best thing you can do is seek help. There are places to turn, including friends and family. But, you should consider going to your GP, a trained therapist, or to a third-sector organisation such as Samaritans, SANEline, Papyrus, or the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).
If you don’t think you’re quite at that level, at least remember to take time for yourself. Give yourself some space from your work and enjoy the small things in life. Find that work-life balance. Maybe even take up a relaxing hobby like yoga. Whatever you do – whatever help you need – always make sure to look after number one: you.
If you need somewhere to turn, get in touch with us on 0161 327 2911. We support the business side of things, so you can get your life in balance. We can take over your accounting needs, so that’s one less thing to worry about. And we can support you on your business journey with expert advice so you know you’re not alone.