Running business can be stressful enough to drive just about anyone crazy. Here’s how to keep your sanity and be successful.
A recent University of California study revealed that entrepreneurs are particularly prone to mental health issues. Why is that? Well, many entrepreneurs are creative thinkers, keen observers of the world around them, and driven toward success–admirable traits if you’re looking to grow a business. But these characteristics can also be the very personality traits that contribute to mental illness.
Starting a company is a risky and stressful venture, one in which failure can be a very real possibility. And while pursuing a goal in the face of success can be exciting, it can also be anxiety-producing. And yet, given the social stigma against mental illness, many entrepreneurs still don’t get the mental health support that they need.
Dr. Michael A. Freeman and a team of researchers from the University of California studied the incidence of mental illness among entrepreneurs. Freeman and his colleagues found that 49 percent of entrepreneurs reported a mental health disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD. While these mental health conditions may equip people with the personality types required of successful entrepreneurs–Freeman argues, for instance, that people with ADHD make decisions faster and are quick, creative thinkers–it’s important not to romanticize or glamorize mental illness. As the recent death of Appton founder Faigy Mayer drove home, mental illness can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Here’s how you can help yourself and your fellow entrepreneurs:
1. Admit it: Running a Startup is Scary
Say it with me now: running a startup can be terrifying. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that pioneering a new idea and taking risks is fun and exhilarating. And it can be! But with risk-taking comes pressure to succeed. And sometimes fear of failure can overwhelm the fun and challenge of pursuing innovation. But by being open about the fact that, yeah, this work is often stressful and scary, you won’t end up bottling up those anxieties and making them worse.
2. Create a culture of openness in your office
By being open about the stress of entrepreneurship, you can change the conversation in your office, making it easier for your employees to reach out for help if they need it. Encourage your employees to work hard while being mindful of their limits. By fostering this kind of environment, you’ll not only be safeguarding your employees’ well-being, you’ll also be building a happier workforce–which means a more productive workforce.
3. Reach Out When You Need Help, and When Others Need Help
The culture of shame around mental illness means that many don’t get the help they need. In highly competitive business fields, the stigma of mental illness–and the persistent idea that it makes you weak or less capable–can be especially hard to overcome. We hear this all the time, but it always bears repeating: if you’re struggling, reach out. If you don’t have any friends or colleagues to reach out to, talk to your doctor.
An organization can only be as strong as its leader–so for the sake of your company’s success, take care of yourself!
(Source: Marla Tabaka, Inc. Magazine)