The Busy Entrepreneurs Guide To Caring For Your Mental Health.
Long time no words, huh?! I have a good reason for that! My business has really taken off and as I’ve been so focused on expanding, I had to let other parts take a back seat. But the good news is I’m now at an amazing place where I can begin to focus more on delivering some awesome content again.
Supporting your mental wellbeing whilst setting up a business is a subject close to my heart being someone that deals with anxiety. And in the online business world it can be all too common to prioritise the hustle and growth and long hours over taking care of ourselves. But the truth is that burn out is a very real thing and we can’t be of service to anyone - least of all our businesses - from the midst of a breakdown.
So taking care of our mental health isn’t just essential for our own wellbeing, it’s a crucial business practice as well, and with that thought in mind here are 5 tips that really help me and I hope they can be of some use to you too:
1. Block your time and focus on one thing only.
Time blocking is a simple but incredibly effective strategy that will make you more productive and efficient, while also reducing mental overwhelm. Each day, break your time into chunks and dedicate each chunk to a particular task. For example, you might have a period of time for email, one for scheduling social media, and one for client calls. What you spend time on each day will vary but the key is that during each period of time, you’re disciplined about focusing only on the task at hand; don't get distracted looking at notifications on your phone or worrying about the rest of your to-do list.
Working like this allows us to stay focused and get into a state of flow, so we can actually get more done with less time. But it’s also great for those of us that are anxiety-prone because rather than thinking and worrying about the big picture, all we have to do is accomplish the task at hand.
2. Take regular breaks and schedule mental health days.
The problem with being an entrepreneur is while we can hypothetically set our own hours, we often don’t have firm boundaries around work and our businesses can end up bleeding into every waking moment of our day. Taking regular breaks throughout the day is a great way to nourish ourselves regularly in small ways. You might want to approach this with the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work on a single task until it goes off, then take a 5 minute break to do something completely different. You might want to drink a glass of water, phone your lover, or dance wildly to your favourite song. Make it something that will help you feel good!
While these mini breaks are crucial to building sanity into our work days, we also need more concentrated amounts of time off to recharge our batteries. Schedule in a mental health day at least once a month. Don’t do any work at all on these days and stay unplugged as much as possible (I dare you to try to keep your phone turned off!) Fill these days with things that nourish your soul; I like spending time in my garden, reading an inspirational book, and cleansing my crystals. What things would you find most nourishing?
3. Remember, “You’re only busy with what you say yes to.”
Setting firm boundaries in our business (and lives!) is one of the healthiest things we can do for our mental wellbeing. So many of us want to please everyone or we’re so afraid to say no in case it hurts the growth of our business. Of course no one can do everything and piling too much on our plates is a surefire ticket to burn out. By getting really clear on the scope of your business (what you do, for whom, and on what terms) as well as on how you work (what hours? how can clients communicate with you? how do they pay you?) you have an excellent set of parameters for making decisions about what and how much you take on. Sometimes saying no to something we’re lukewarm on is the only way to make room for those big, juicy HELLS YESES.
4. Go back to basics with food, hydration, and sleep.
How often have you said you’re “too busy” to take care proper care of yourself - getting enough sleep, cooking healthy meals, and heck getting up to drink a glass of water? Yep, me too… and it always results in me getting sick or my anxiety going into overdrive. If we don’t take care of our basic human needs, our body will find a way to slow us down and that’s no fun!
But these simple acts of self-care can become a lot easier when we build them into our routines. Before you go grocery shopping each week, make a meal plan of simple, healthy meals you can eat during the week.
Every morning fill a large bottle or two with water and leave them on your desk for easy sipping during the day. And start prioritizing good sleep hygiene. Set a non-negotiable time to go to bed each night. The quality of our sleep matters, too so turn off all screens at least an hour before, keep your room as dark as possible, and create a soothing bedtime routine for yourself - even something as simple as using a lavendar oil on your pulse points can help you unwind after a busy day ( I adore this one from Root and Flower)
5. Keep your eyes on your own lane.
You went into business for yourself because the beaten path didn’t appeal to you so stop comparing your journey to everyone else’s and instead of focussing on what you “should” be doing focus on creating the business that best supports the life you want to be living. Are there areas of your business that you’ve been plugging away at because everyone else is, even though they’re not really aligned with your vision and they haven’t paid any dividends? Be ruthless in focusing on your own path. Unfollow people who don’t make you feel good about your own journey. Cut out tasks that aren’t serving your vision for your business.
It can feel difficult, and even scary, to prioritize our own mental wellbeing amidst all the pressures of running a business. But as I’m sure you’re all too aware, when we don’t, it can be catastrophic. I’ve found that using these simple tips makes taking care of myself and my business totally doable.
Do you have any tips you use for taking care of your mental health?
I’d love if you shared them in the comments below!