As we round off another year, this is a great time for me to remind my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners that you need to take time off to recharge and relax over the holidays.
For almost two decades I have been working with business owners, many of whom are overworked, stressed-out and otherwise exhausted, but keep working unearthly hours. No matter how many coaching sessions or Board meetings I have conducted, entrepreneurs never really talk about how they are coping (or not coping).
We are exponentially more likely to suffer from mental health problems, but yet we don’t talk about it as staffing issues, operations, marketing, finance and supply chain issues always seem to take priority.
There is no question that owning a business can be difficult on our mental health. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to just 48% of non-entrepreneurs. According to another study by Michael Freeman, entrepreneurs are 50 percent more likely to report having a mental health condition. And yet, we still struggle to talk about it.
Here are some suggestions that could help you manage:
- First of all, know you are not alone and that many, if not most leaders, do suffer from some mental health issue. So one thing you can do is to be honest about your stress, your burnout, your anxiety, your depression - whatever the emotion is, it’s ok to feel the way you are feeling.
- Reaching out is a great second step. However, that does not have to mean seeing a counsellor - it could be talking with a friend, TAB peer, or sharing your personal struggle on social media. Today, you will find more business leaders sharing emotions on LinkedIn. This shows you in your more vulnerable state, but it also informs your employees that being honest about your own struggles means you respect their mental health too, which could reduce their own anxiety about how honest they can be working with you.
- Book time for YOU once a day. This could be a 10-minute walk away from your desk, a pop-out for a coffee or just reading the news. Build “mental health breaks” into your day, every day.
I know that this may be one of your biggest challenges and requires willpower, but try to leave work at work. Start slowly with 10-minute breaks, then build up to hours and maybe, just maybe, a vacation! What will happen to your business when you’re not there 24/7? You’ll see that everything you built didn’t come crumbling down because you’ve disconnected from work on occasion.
My wish and sincere hope for all of my fellow business owners is that starting this holiday season you try to make “taking a vacation” a goal that you will be accountable for in 2023 and beyond.
Happy Holidays everyone!