According to research, one in three entrepreneurs experience depression. Tragically, shortly before Christmas this year, a young founder from Sydney took her own life, an event which prompted this post.
Stress, overwhelm and other negative feelings around work can be difficult to deal with and, if left unchecked, have the potential to spiral into something more serious, like depression. Millennials, in particular, are most likely to experience workplace anxiety around Christmas time.
Yep, it’s true – start-up life can bring with it incredible highs and, at times, equally intense lows – so it’s important to arm yourself with a psychological toolkit for dealing with the angst as soon as you identify it rearing its pesky little head.
Entrepreneur and author Chris Myers has experienced the emotional toll of being a start-upper and knows that stress can peak over the holiday season. In his new book, Enlightened Entrepreneurship: How To Start And Scale A Business Without Losing Your Sanity, the founder of Bodetree shares advice for anyone who is struggling with work-related stress.
1. Don’t be afraid to seek support
- “After I started writing about entrepreneurial anxiety and depression a few years ago, I heard from dozens of founders who were suffering but felt that they had no place else to turn. These emails and phone calls seem to spike at Christmas time. More often than not, I found myself giving very similar advice to the people I speak to, despite their diverse backgrounds. It seems simple, but sometimes simple answers offer the best solutions to complex problems.”
2. Seek out a fresh perspective
“If you find yourself struggling with depression or anxiety, it’s important to stop and seek out a fresh perspective before you fall into a negative spiral. Life, like business, is a journey full of ups and downs. Those ups and downs always seem more extreme to the people experiencing them first-hand, but more often than not, outsiders have a more reasonable view of things. Reach out to someone with a bit of distance. Their unbiased assessment of your situation will provide a fresh perspective on things. Chances are, you’ll walk away with the realisation that things aren’t as bad as you thought or be encouraged to seek out the next level of support that you may not have thought you needed.”
3. Recognise what you can control, and what you can’t
“More often than not, anxiety and depression in business have their roots in the illusion of control. We all want to control the world around us, but trying to exert our will on things that cannot be changed is the very definition of futility. Many of the entrepreneurs I speak to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort attempting to control the feelings of their investors, customers, or team. It’s only after they recognise that they have no control over such things that they are able to focus on the elements of their life and business that they can impact. Once you let go of futile efforts, you’ll feel a tremendous weight lifted and you’ll be ready to move on.”
4. Take baby steps
“Once you’ve sorted out what you can control and what you can’t, the next step is to create a linear and segmented plan for moving forward. When you take baby steps every single day, you’ll create a sense of momentum that will carry you forward. Problems can feel overwhelming, but when you take the time to break them down into bite-sized chunks, they suddenly seem a lot less scary and a lot more manageable. It’s my sincere hope that these simple suggestions will help people cope with the challenges they encounter. There will be bumps and setbacks on any entrepreneurial journey, but remember that you’re not alone.”
For continued thoughts and ideas, follow Chris on Twitter
Where to seek help?
In person: If you’re Australia based, join One Wave is All It Takes, Founded by Grant Trebilco, a younger surfer diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Every Friday morning at beaches across the country, crowds of ocean-lovers take to the water in fluorescent outfits (#flurofriday). The aim is to start an open conversation around mental health disorders and wash away the “funk”.
Online: The website Headsup is an offshoot of the mental health charity, BeyondBlue, but has specialist advice for dealing with work-related mental turmoil. The self-help site features advice on how to create mentally-healthy cultures, guidelines on supporting staff members and vlogs from CEOs and employees on how they cope with tough days at the office.
In your pocket: The app, Hello Mind provides emotional support whenever you need it. With the slogan, ‘Think better, feel stronger’, it has mental exercises, meditations and result-driven hypnosis (RDH) to help to break negative patterns, whether you suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, insomnia or just feel generally overwhelmed. Each ‘treatment course’ involves 10 sessions, which you can listen to when offline.
+ These ideas and tips are just that and while we hope they will encourage and inspire you, they should not replace professional advice.