Summary: How to cope with entrepreneurial anxiety, depression and stress caused by the external and internal pressure to succeed.
We thought it was time to bring this discussion out into the open – and end the madness of entrepreneurs feeling depressed, anxious or not good enough as they toil to achieve greatness with their lives – often in the face of massive financial and emotional obstacles.
Entrepreneurs are under tremendous pressure to present themselves as successful and perfect, wanting to avoid being perceived as weak.
This can take a massive toll on the mental and physical health of the entrepreneur, who is after all, only human.
The financial strain of not always having a steady income and worrying about paying the bills can aggravate the entrepreneurs’ state of mind and can lead to major anxiety, sleep deprivation and in many cases even suicidal thoughts.
Leading entrepreneurial teacher Brian Tracy says:
“One of the leading causes of suicide is people feeling like they have not achieved the levels of success that they wanted to.”
The entrepreneur is often on a roller coaster of emotion, where one day they can tell themselves “yes, I can do this!” and the next day they can tell themselves “actually, I don’t think I am ever going to achieve this.”
Entrepreneurial goals often have little short-term validation and the entrepreneur can feel like they are working day and night for nothing.
The entrepreneur often prioritises their business over their mental and physical health.
It’s no wonder that external pressures to succeed, coupled with the pressure that the entrepreneur puts on his or herself to succeed, and further burdened with the need to pay the bills, has lead to a growing mass of entrepreneurs who suffer from anxiety and depression.
An entrepreneur in this negative state of mind cannot focus on creative or strategic elements and ends up getting stuck – only worsening the problem.
Here are some things we can all do as entrepreneurs to help ourselves and each other.
Step 1: Acknowledge the problem
If you or someone you care for is suffering from entrepreneurial anxiety or depression, the first step is to acknowledge the problem.
As entrepreneurs, we are working on ourselves and our businesses to become better in our lives and create something greater than what we currently have. By this very definition, we are not perfect and are subject to stressors just like anyone else, if not more so.
Step 2: Verbalize the problem
Start talking to people you know and trust, especially with your fellow entrepreneurs.
You will find that most other entrepreneurs have experienced the same thing at one time or another and were too scared to bring it out into the open.
By talking about it, you not only free yourself from a lonely, internal struggle, you will probably also free the other entrepreneur that you talk to.
Just talking about it can be a relief.
Step 3: Create support structures
Once the problem is out in the open, it’s time to set up valuable support structures.
This can be as simple as monthly chats with your other entrepreneurial friends and colleagues, or more formal help in the form of seeking professional advice.
Step 4: Lose your fear of exploring the different forms of coping mechanisms
Entrepreneurial anxiety and depression can be treated in many ways:
Ensuring you get enough exercise and eating healthy will definitely help you to cope.
But don’t be scared to also explore vitamins, supplements, medicine, talk therapy and alternative medicine – obviously with some professional guidance from your doctor.
Seeking help with the financial aspects of your life and business will also a go long way to alleviating anxiety and depression.
Step 5: Stop putting so much pressure on yourself
Entrepreneurs need to stop putting so much pressure on themselves and on each other.
Success takes years to achieve and comes with many failures along the way.
Once you succeed at achieving one major goal, you will soon face the pressures of the next goal, which may bring with it a whole new set of both success stories and failures.
So stop being so hard on yourself – success is not a destination, its a journey.
Step 6: Take relaxation breaks
You need to take extended breaks at least twice a year in order to avoid entrepreneurial burnout.
These breaks should include technology breaks – no laptop, no tablets, no cellphones should be switched on during these breaks.
Step 7: Enjoy the entrepreneurial journey
You have probably chosen an entrepreneurial path because you want to achieve something more with your life.
Acknowledge to yourself that this an equally challenging and rewarding journey.
Enjoy the learning and growth that comes from the challenges just as much as you enjoy the rewards.
And be grateful every day for everything that has happened, as both the highs and the lows are simply pushing you to the next level on your journey.