Mental Health

Prioritising your Mental Health as a Startup Founder

Mental health is important in our daily life. It is particularly crucial when you’re a startup founder dealing with countless emotions. With all eyes peeled at you for the survivability of the startup, you’ll find yourself jargoning between activities, which can impact your mental health.

But don’t stress out. You’re not alone! About 72% of startup founders face mental health issues from time to time. Out of this, 77% have reported a decline in their mental well-being. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be part of this statistic.

In this article, we’ll present four ways to prioritise your mental health as a startup founder.

Four ways of prioritising your mental health as a startup founder

When you are a startup founder, you have to deal with many emotions in a short span. You could be sorrowful now, angered the next minute or even stressed. If not well managed, these emotions could take a toll on your mental health. Below are solutions to help manage your mental health and make sound business decisions.

        i.            Don’t forget your social life

At the height of the pandemic, job exoduses were at a 20-year high. This led to the Great Resignation phenomenon, where most people quit their careers to focus on startups. What they might not have realised is how this affected their social life.

Due to the mounting pressure from investors, the hustle culture, and the need to inspire employees to put in quality work, solo founders face the risk of poor mental health. This is because they spend more time in their startups and forget they have a real life, resulting in minimal social interactions with friends and family.

Social interactions are important to your business and mental well-being. By occasionally hanging out with your friends and family and networking, you can;

  • Improve your physical and mental well-being.
  • Enhance your research and development. This is a crucial step in the long-term development of your startup. As a founder, you need to think clearly to scale your business.
  • Vent out to someone you trust. It will help in stress relief and finding solutions to thorny issues. All you might need is a shoulder to lean on.

If you’re finding it hard to get back to your social life, you should delegate responsibilities like event organisation and travel arrangements to relieve time for your social life.

     ii.            Have your personal space

As a founder, you shouldn’t get married to your business. Spare some personal time off work and learn from successful founders who took time off their businesses and were successful.

Look at Elon Musk, who flew to the moon before taking over Twitter, and Einstein, who discovered gravity while under an apple tree. Sometimes, you only need to spend time away from your startup to succeed.

Doing so improves your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which is responsible for dealing with anxiety and reducing stress. It’s essential to master this part of your body for good mental well-being. Here are things you can do to improve your PNS;

  • Take a nature walk to declutter your mind. Spending time around Mother Nature activates your PNS, thus inducing a relaxing feeling in your body.
  • Practice meditation. Meditation has been part of our social fabric for the longest time. It helps to improve your sleep quality, reduces anxiety and depression, and enhances verbal and non-verbal skills.
  • Do regular exercises. Practise will enable you to shift your focus from work to physical well-being. It gives you more endurance to anxiety and stress without surpassing your limits.
  • Control your breathing by taking deep abdominal breaths. This will get you to a zone where you can calm yourself from panic attacks.

There’s no greater way of improving your mental health than a good self-care regime. Always look out for yourself and your business. Besides, you can ask for administration support as you tend to yourself.

   iii.            Know when you’re maxed out

Setting up a successful business venture without experiencing burnout can be a dream come true for a startup founder. However, burnout will always occur, so knowing how to interpret it is crucial to ensure a healthy mental state.

Burnout is one way your body communicates. It’s a way of telling you that you’re maxed out and need time off to relax. Resting gives your body time to refuel before getting your grit on. If not, you risk spiralling these signals into a mental health problem. Three types of burnout can creep in slowly before exploding into a serious mental health disorder.

Some of the early signals of burnout include the following;

  • Depression
  • Neglecting your personal needs
  • Having an existential crisis
  • Headaches
  • Withdrawing from social scenes
  • Insomnia

You can deal with burnout by;

  • Asking for help from a virtual assistant
  • Never carrying your work at home
  • Exercising mindfulness by cultivating a no-culture when maxed out
  • Building relationships with your co-founders. It will create a sense of belonging and make it easy to ask for help.
  • Cultivating your interests outside work. You can enjoy your hobbies and take your mind off work.

When you feel maxed out, take that break. While at it, forward all your calls to a telephone answering agency to avoid getting lured back to work.

   iv.            The power of routines

As a founder, you must establish a routine that works for you. Routines offer mental stability since you can plan your day’s expectations. Be sure to have realistic expectations that will enable you to reflect on your business goals, set time for self-reflection and have family time.

Sticking to your routine will enable you to achieve significant business and personal milestones. Always prioritise your routine’s bigger, uglier tasks first to achieve optimum results. If possible, delegate smaller tasks like diary management to a professional agency to minimise the chances of burning out.

Wrapping up

Building a startup from scratch is a daunting experience. It can affect your mental health, thus affecting performance and productivity. It doesn’t only affect your business but also yourself. If you don’t prioritise your mental health, you might end up closing your business, joining 57.6% of other startups shutting their doors within the first five years.



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