Starting your own business is no joke. Entrepreneurship comes with tons of demands. There’s the financial responsibility, attracting customers, managing a team, and trying to have a personal or family life. Trust me, I know working a 9-5 is stressful too, but it also can provide routine and structure self-employment may not. Working for yourself often means that making time for self- care is really challenging -- but I also know that it’s a must. It’s important to do the work to protect and nourish your mind and body. It may sound cliché, but you can’t pour into others if your glass is empty. We’ve got to make sure we’re filled up too! For me, how I’m feeling about my mental health as an entrepreneur can fluctuate day-to-day, depending on what I’m navigating. I own two businesses in Texas and unpredictable things happen every day. This is enough to make my head literally spin. As such, I’ve had to learn how to manage my mental health, so I can remain agile and keep building. Below are a few of my best practices.
Track Your Ebbs & Flows:
Balancing cash flow for a growing business is very stressful. As most small business owners know, there can be weeks where you owe more than what’s come in. That’s where having a plan in place is necessary, so that the dips don’t surprise you.
You must be clear on where you can pivot to address cash shortages. The more you track and plan for cash flow fluctuations, the more you’ll be able to manage the stress that comes with it.
This isn’t something we talk about enough, but grace is a form of self-care. I truly strive to live in grace every day. I do so by acknowledging that I’m managing a lot and balls are going to be dropped. It’s okay. A few years ago, I found myself being very
unforgiving to myself; now I extend myself grace when I know that I’ve truly done my best. Giving yourself grace allows you to prioritize what’s important. This means taking what matters and putting it first. You can let the rest go that you can’t get done.
Part of my routine is daily meditation. I carve out about 10 minutes each morning with no music and no television. I use the time to quiet my mind. Often, I look out the window and appreciate the sun with a cup of tea or coffee. For me, it’s the perfect way to start my day. It helps me start my day with mental clarity. I utilize breathing exercises, which force me to slow down. I also use Apple Music for meditative music to bring calm to my space. Sometimes, I even do this during working hours when things begin to pick up speed and I need to clear my mind.
A Spiritual Practice:
In addition to meditation, prayer has often been a saving grace for me. For me, incorporating daily prayer into my life and praying about what I need to get through has been key to managing my mental health. There are literally some days when I feel I don’t have the strength to master my task list and my strength to preserve needs to come from a higher source. I truly believe having a spiritual practice helps anchor me and gives me the stamina to keep pushing forward.
Know Your Body:
If you’re like me, being an entrepreneur can keep you on your feet a lot. This is where listening to the physical cues that your body is giving comes in handy. It’s easy to overlook how interconnected our physical and mental health are. I’ve had days where I’ve had extreme neck pain but had to continue working. It’s something I really try not to do now. I’ve had to create boundaries by establishing “no-work” times in my calendar. It’s so easy to want to work nearly 24 hours a day when the bottom line of a business falls on your shoulders but after 9 p.m. each day, I truly try to shut it down and rest. If it didn’t get a task done by 9 p.m., it’s moved to the next day.
Check Out When Needed:
Listen, nothing is going to be worth it if you’re eroding your mental health or physical health in the process. In a culture focused on grinding, it may not be cool to say it, but there are days where I need to check out. It’s something I’ve done twice in the last six months. A key part of this is aiming to make sure your business can operate without you, which is directly tied to building and retaining a highly qualified and capable team. The investment you make it your team will surely pay dividends when it comes to managing your mental health.
Overall, what I’ve learned so far in my entrepreneurship journey is the need to find balance to avoid burnout. If you want to scale your business, you can’t control what other people do, you can only control yourself and how you react to what’s happening around you. Obviously, a mental health professional should also be considered depending on what’s right for you. But whatever tools you use, finding ways to keep your mental strong daily should be considered part of your business plan too.