The Psychological Costs Of Entrepreneurship According To A Therapist

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Entrepreneurship is an exciting career path that an increasing number of people are deciding to pursue. Roughly 8% of the global workforce are trying to establish and run their businesses. Most people glorify entrepreneurship, sometimes unjustly, as a way to achieve wealth, success, and fame. However, almost no one except a therapist understands the tremendous stresses placed upon these founders.

Mental health is an aspect of our well-being that has been historically overlooked by practically everyone. Recent trends now see people becoming more aware of the importance of self-care and emotional support. However, the entrepreneurial world still has a lot of catching up to do in this aspect. In many cases, the work of startups and businesses perpetuate cultures and beliefs detrimental to emotional well-being.

Work-Life Imbalance

The stereotypical portrayal of an entrepreneur is a hustler who does whatever it takes to succeed. In this model, most people place productivity on a pedestal. Founders are made to believe every second count, that rest equates to unproductive time, and the competition will overtake those who don’t work at their best all the time.

The business world is full of people who unabashedly admit to sacrificing their well-being for the sake of their businesses. Consider Elon Musk, who once described a typical daily routine of coming home by 2 AM. Many people aspire to be as successful as their role models, and their poor work-life balance is sometimes used to justify their insufficient self-care practices.

People are encouraged to work around the clock. Even during evenings and early mornings, many founders are busy processing emails, researching market trends, or completing tasks on their to-do list.

Forcing yourself to work tirelessly may temporarily bring excellent results. However, the lack of rest increases stress levels, making it harder to make rational decisions and to regulate emotions. Chronic stress leads to a higher risk of developing depression and other mental health conditions. Around 49% of entrepreneurs will develop a mental illness at least once in their life.

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Uncertainty & Risk

Entrepreneurship holds its appeal due to its disruptive nature. In this field, people are free to experiment with new business models in the pursuit of innovation and profit. Being able to forge your path is a fulfilling experience for many people.

However, innovation comes with uncertainty and risk. Many startups fail within a year of starting operations. There is no assurance that current businesses will still be standing a few years from now. Founders need to continually manage this uncertainty by ensuring the foundations of their business are secure. Nevertheless, unpredictability will never disappear, imposing a constant source of stress on founders.

Conflating Identities

Founders tend to identify strongly with their businesses. Being the ones responsible for turning ideas into business models, founders essentially become creators. They can become attached to their startups, and they can start to conflate their private identity with their professional one.

This setup becomes harmful when founders start to associate troubles in their startups with their self-efficacy. When their businesses take a turn for the worse, they may see it as a reflection of their incompetence. Over time, this train of thought can erode their self-esteem and overwhelm them with stress.

Expectations

Whether explicit or now, business founders are always expected to project strength and confidence. They believe any projections of vulnerability can turn off investors and clients. Hence, they are forced to suffer silently and to suppress their emotions.

Media makes the situation worse through their reporting on successful entrepreneurs. Some outlets overemphasize the successes and fail to report the struggles these people encountered. This reporting fools people into believing their obstacles are unusual when practically everyone in business faces these.

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Protecting Your Mental Health

As shown, entrepreneurship comes with several psychological costs. However, entrepreneurs are not powerless against their struggles. They can start by challenging the concept of the stereotypical entrepreneur as a tireless hustler. They need to realize those founders are still humans who need to take care of their physical and mental health.

Action should also proceed at the community level. The overall culture of entrepreneurship needs an overhaul. Entrepreneurs should be encouraged to accept their vulnerabilities instead of hiding them. Founders should be inspired to emphasize mental well-being in their businesses, whether by allocating budget towards mental health projects or by hiring mental health professionals.

Finally, founders shouldn’t be afraid to use some of their earnings for themselves. Taking vacations now and then and rewarding themselves should also be part of their priorities. Furthermore, signing up at the BetterHelp app is an excellent idea if merely taking a vacation is not enough. It’s okay to do all that and more — you deserve it, after all.

Tips To Promote Mental Health Awareness To Your Employees

Keeping your employees not only physically fit but also mentally and emotionally ready is the key to grow your business successfully. Employees and the workforce are undoubtedly the lifeblood of your company, no matter how small it may be. Not everyone may be aware that mental health is responsible for such fitness. Every psychologist suggests that there are easy ways that leaders can do, without any complication, to raise mental health awareness to their employees so that they don’t end up needing to sign up to platforms like BetterHelp before they even hit the six-month milestone in the company.

Here are some of the measures you, as a leader, can take to guide your teammates:

Practice Verbal Recognition

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Recognition does not always have to be material. Especially if you have a low budget when it comes to extra spending, verbal recognition will do. Believe it or not, your employees value it highly when they are being praised, particularly by their superiors. It is like an assurance that they are in the right direction and doing a great job.

“Harsh words are just as damaging whether they come from someone else or whether they come from you,” says licensed psychologist Cindy T. Graham, PhD. As mentioned, saying a “great job” will cost you nothing. Giving positive feedback can brighten someone’s day and make them say that it’s all worth it. Studies report that giving such verbal recognition has positive impacts on employees, especially if the work is fast-paced and stressful than others. It’s also essential that we, leaders and employers, keep in mind that it is the easiest way to build positive relations with your employees.

Breed Positive Relationships

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Most of the time, for medium- to large-sized businesses and companies, it is our next-in-ranks that supervise our employees. In turn, we leaders and big bosses should also foster positive relationships with the supervisors. Never forget to remind them as well about the importance of their attitude to their inferiors as it will also be your image to the majority of the workforce. “Bring the right people into your life.” A reminder from Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D.

Organize Mental Health Talks

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Your employees may not be aware of the importance of mental health to their well-being. Perhaps, most of them still have the attitude of “it is just simple stress that will pass eventually.” This mindset is dangerous because it is an indication that they do not know how to take care of their overall health in general.

If you have a human resource group or person, talk to them about having someone speak about the topic of mental health. It may cost you a little, taking into consideration the venue and the resource speaker itself, but treat it as part of your accomplishment in the company. Your employees will enjoy it as it will also be their “break time” from paper works and stressful environment. “Why talk about your problems including mental health challenges? Just talking about your situation to someone can reduce your stress and help you feel better.” Dr. Aaron Kaplan, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist said.

Provide De-Stressing Activities

Organize or initiate team buildings even once a year to a place far away from the office. It is also a way to bond with your employees outside the business and other than the professional setting. Talk with each other and share things about your personal lives and aspirations in life. In that way, the employee will have a mindset that your company is a good one which values and nurtures their growth as an individual.

Providing summer activities is not just the only way to value your employees’ mental health. Also, make it a goal to provide facilities for relaxation in the office. You can set up a beautiful and homey room where employees can have coffee and take a break on even for five minutes.

You can also set up table games in one corner so employees can de-stress a little before going home. There are also spa and gym corporate packages in the city that you may avail of for your employees’ wellness. Moreover, it may also attract employees because they will see your company as one who values them.

Attend Mental Health Talks

Further, your knowledge about mental health. Attending mental health talks is essential because other participant leaders may share what they know and the problems they encounter with their employees. This way, you can familiarize yourself and learn more about dealing with different people’s mental health.

You can also bring with you the supervisors of your company. It is crucial that your next-in-ranks who supervise your employees and become your image to them know how to deal with them nicely. Note that no matter how approachable you may be, if your supervisors do not know how to do the same, then your efforts will be futile.

The success of every business depends on the output of the employee, considering the quality of the work done, the efficiency, and the accuracy of the work exhibited. Remember: healthy employee results from a leader who values all their health aspects as much as the business itself.