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5 Mental Health Tips for New Entrepreneurs

Written by
Mia Barnes
Published on
December 6, 2023

Starting a business can be incredibly rewarding. Successful entrepreneurs experience financial freedom, set their own schedules and realize their dreams. However, getting there can lead to stress that triggers distressing symptoms. These five tips can benefit your mental health on the journey. 

Experiencing Mental Health Conditions as a Business Owner 

Owning a company can be as stressful as it is rewarding. The concern of being in charge of your and others’ income can lead to tension. A survey found that 50% of business owners report experiencing mental health symptoms that interfere with their lives and organizations. 

Women can face even more pressure when getting their businesses off the ground. Many industries still look down on them, increasing stress and anxiety. 

The mental strain of starting and maintaining a company can lead to anxiety and depression. They impact your emotional and physical health, business decisions, productivity, and personal relationships. 

5 Tips to Preserve Your Mental Health 

Thankfully, some habits can improve your mental health. These five tips can help you care for your mind while running your business. 

1. Set Boundaries 

Owning a company comes with many responsibilities that make it easy for your business to become your life. It’s essential to maintain a work-life balance for your health and happiness. 

Over 30% of small-business owners say they work more than 50 hours per week, and 25% clock more than 60 hours. That doesn’t leave much time for family, social activities or self-care. Boundaries are vital in establishing a schedule that lets you fulfill all your personal and business needs. 

“It’s important for women entrepreneurs to set boundaries around their business mission and values. Set early boundaries around the work you want to do in your business so that you don’t fall into the trap of doing things outside your mission or values just for money,” says Beverly Davis, founder and CEO of Davis Financial Services. “Set boundaries around who you partner and collaborate with because not all opportunities are lucrative in the long run if they do not align with your core mission and values.”

Create a schedule and stick to it. Let employees, clients and vendors know when you are available and only answer their calls during those times. You can make it easier by using separate devices for work and personal life. When you get home, set your work phone aside. 

“When I’m done with work, I’m done with work,” Davis says. 

2. Be Mindful 

Owning your own business is an overwhelming change. You might find yourself second-guessing your past decisions or thinking of the worst-case future scenarios. Around 90% of startups fail, and the immense pressure for success can lead to extreme stress. 

Mindfulness focuses on the sensations, emotions and scenarios in the “now,” not what did or could happen. While you must plan for the future, mindfulness can keep you from spiraling. Many exercises can help you embrace mindfulness, such as the following. 

  • Meditate: You don’t have to sit with your eyes closed to do mindfulness meditation. Take a deep breath. Note the space you’re in, how you physically and mentally feel, and what your senses notice. When your mind wanders, begin again. 
  • Journal: Reflective journaling can encourage mindfulness by helping you work through your past. Gratitude journaling lets you express thanks to the people and items around you.
  • Mindful eating: You can practice focusing on the moment when you eat. Observe the smell, texture, taste and temperature of your meal. Think of the work producers did to harvest and create your food and appreciate your ability to prepare and enjoy it. 

“I absolutely have to take some time every day to reground myself — especially after a meeting or speaking engagement. I need complete isolation from people, even if it’s just for five to 10 minutes, to recharge and reset,” business owner Geneva Dummer told Gulf Coast Woman. “I find music really helps me set the tone of my day, as well. While I’m working in ‘the zone’ on important tasks that require my full attention — bookkeeping, client intake prep, grant writing, etc. — I put on some acoustic guitar in the background and keep distractions to a minimum.”

A study found that mindfulness in business can increase your profits by over 500%. 

3. Practice Self-Care 

Caring for your mind and body is essential for a happy and healthy life. Practicing self-care can help you relax, reducing your anxiety levels. Enjoying a spa day, reading a favorite book, listening to music or having a favorite meal are examples of self-care activities. 

“I have literally made it my business. From that perspective, self-care is about the little moments — like a superfood face mask — that add up as personal investments in well-being,” Golde founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford told Inc. 

“In my daily life, of course there's a latte but there's also journaling, going for runs, or keeping all of those little appointments with the chiropractor or even the dentist — sometimes it's about making time for the mundane. Self-care is acknowledging that sometimes the only thing left is to rest.”

Recent research shows that 75% of Americans believe self-care activities can reduce stress. Schedule self-care into your day as a regular part of your routine to help you feel calmer through the week. 

4. Maintain Your Physical Health 

Your physical health can affect your mental health and vice versa. Exercise releases endorphins that can improve mood and reduce stress. 

“It’s helpful for [women entrepreneurs] to take breaks throughout their day, get enough sleep and exercise, and to make moments for other people and things that are important to them,” advises business mentor and entrepreneurship coach Charlene Walters. “The more balanced and healthy they are, the more profitable and successful they will become.”

Research shows that a low-quality diet can increase your risk of depression by up to 80%. Eating balanced, nutrient-rich meals and exercising for 30 minutes a day can help you stay healthy. 

5. Talk to a Professional 

Navigating a new business is challenging, and speaking to a counselor or therapist can help you healthily work through those emotions. 

“It’s essential to cultivate a great group of business besties as soon as you can — joining a mastermind is the easiest and fastest way to do this,” serial entrepreneur Heidi DeCoux told Medium. “Hire the best coach/consultant you can afford. Get a therapist and go to therapy regularly. And get good systems set up in both your personal life and your business. In the early days, you’ll be panicking regularly, so you need to have a great support system both personally and professionally.”

Research professionals in your area and read reviews to see who could be a good fit. You can use databases, like the American Psychological Association's, to find therapists in your area or telehealth that your insurance accepts. Be sure to find someone you feel compatible with.

Prioritizing Mental Health as a New Entrepreneur 

Staying mentally well is an often overlooked part of becoming a successful business owner. Setting boundaries, staying mindful, caring for your mind and body, and seeking care as needed can help.

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