As we’ve written about in the past, starting and growing your own business is an emotional rollercoaster. Navigating those highs and lows while shouldering the financial risk, working long hours, and putting your vision out there day in and day out can take a psychological toll on even the strongest willed entrepreneur.
Research shows that the demands of business ownership place entrepreneurs at higher risk for stress and specific mental health concerns. In fact, a staggering 70%+ of business owners have concerns about their mental health, and almost half have struggled with depression or anxiety before.
Because your wellbeing is your biggest asset as a business owner, it’s vital that you frequently check in on your mental wellbeing. Understand the difference between a normal reaction to stress, which is generally temporary and short-term, versus symptoms that persist for longer than a couple of weeks and may indicate a mental health concern. Look out for the red flags such as certain behavioral changes or negative thoughts that are persistent and interfere with your daily activities, as they may indicate you are struggling with your mental health. Some behavioral changes to look for include identifying whether:
You Have Trouble Sleeping
For most people, a good night’s sleep is around 7-9 hours a night. If you are having problems getting a good night’s rest, this might be a sign of a mental health concern. This could show up as persistently sleeping too much or too little, tossing or turning, waking up frequently during the night, or having trouble getting out of bed.
Your Appetite Has Changed
Mental health problems often impact appetite. Notice if you are losing your appetite or if you are turning to the comfort of food and eating more than normal. Look at how dramatic and persistent your changes in appetite are and if they are combined with other symptoms.
Your Muscles Are Constantly Tense
Muscle tension is natural. It can occur when you have anything that causes emotional or physical stress. You might carry tension from time to time through a tightness in your stomach or pain across your neck and shoulders. But, if you are experiencing chronic tension that won’t go away naturally, that might be a sign of a mental health concern.
Your Mind is Constantly Racing
Racing thoughts can happen anytime you are anxious or stressed, but constantly racing thoughts might be a sign of a mental health concern. When your mind is racing, it is flooded by a replay of past events, worries about things that might happen, negative judgments against yourself, or other thoughts that feel out of control, affect your concentration, and are difficult to turn off.
The Overwhelm is Paralyzing
If you are struggling with a mental health concern, routine tasks and decisions may feel overwhelming to you. You may have trouble focusing or may feel more indecisive than usual. It might become paralyzing, making it feel impossible to do even the smallest of things in your business or life in general.
You Have Extreme Mood Swings
While we all experience mood swings to a certain degree, extreme mood swings can be a symptom of a mental health concern. Notice if you are more emotional than normal, such as experiencing rapid bouts of euphoric highs, unusual crying, or bursts of anger.
You Are Isolating Yourself
Of course, spending time alone may be essential for you to refresh and reinvigorate, but if you’re generally shutting down from society and isolating yourself, that may be a sign of a mental health concern. Notice if you are avoiding social activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past. Also, look at your relationships with loved ones – whether you’re neglecting them or even if you’ve stopped talking to them altogether.
It takes a lot of reflection and courage to identify a change in your mental health. Catching the warning signs is the first step towards getting the support that you need. Next week, we’ll be sharing some ways to find support.