How to keep mentally strong while building your business, By Dr Neetu Johnson M.D

How to keep mentally strong while building your business, By Dr Neetu Johnson M.D
THE SILENT START-UP KILLER. The Crucial Connection Between Mental Health and Success, By Dr Neetu Johnson MD

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, where innovation and risk-taking is the norm, there's often little room to pause and reflect on an entrepreneur's/ founder’s mental well-being. 

Just as athletes rigorously train their bodies, entrepreneurs must recognize the vital role mental health plays in their journey to success and longevity.  

Pause and reflect now: When was the last time you set aside time to look after your mental and physical health?

The intricate relationship between mental health and entrepreneurship is a subject deserving of our attention. A study conducted in 2015 shed light on some disconcerting statistics: 

72% of entrepreneurs reported experiencing a mental health concern in their lifetime, with 49% reporting one or more mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention deficit disorders (ADD).

 In stark contrast, only 32% of non-entrepreneurs reported similar experiences. This disparity begs the question: does being an Founder/entrepreneur predispose individuals to mental health concerns?

The answer is multifaceted. This is the answer most psychiatrists give when looking at the whole picture. On one hand, there's an overlap between the traits that make someone a successful Founder  and those that may render them susceptible to mental health challenges. On the other hand, the demands and realities of the entrepreneurial journey can contribute significantly to stress, unhealthy behaviours, and limited access to support.

Let's look at The Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are often characterised by their creativity, unwavering motivation, willingness to take calculated risks, and their ability to think independently and innovatively. Remarkably, these traits are also linked to a positive relationship with mental health conditions. In essence, the qualities that propel an individual toward entrepreneurial success also make them more susceptible to mental health issues. This doesn't imply that every entrepreneur will face these problems, but it underscores the need for precaution in recognizing warning signs.

The Demands of Entrepreneurship

Delving into the life of an entrepreneur reveals several facets that can strain mental and physical health. I am married to a serial entrepreneur so I've lived this experience fully! 

1. Work-Life Balance: Entrepreneurs frequently blur the lines between their personal and professional lives, often working early mornings and late nights. The relentless dedication to their businesses can come at the cost of neglecting personal relationships and self-care.

2. High-Stress Environment: Managing finances, personnel decisions, and addressing the myriad challenges that threaten the business's stability can be mentally taxing. Stress is an inherent part of entrepreneurship, one that's difficult to escape.

3. Life Stressors: Many entrepreneurs relocate or operate in unfamiliar territories, adding an extra layer of life stress. Adapting to new surroundings and markets can be overwhelming, compounded by the absence of familiar comforts.

4. Social Disconnect: Entrepreneurship often deviates from the traditional nine-to-five career path, making it challenging for loved ones to understand the entrepreneurial lifestyle. This lack of understanding can create additional stress and pressure. They also work in silos for long unsocial hours leading to more disconnection. 

In conclusion, the connection between mental health and entrepreneurship is undeniable. Founders must recognize the risks associated with their unique traits and the demands of their profession. 

From my perspective,  prioritising your mental well-being is a must. Seeking support when needed, and maintaining a balance between personal and professional life are essential steps toward fostering a healthy mind, which, in turn, is the foundation for entrepreneurial success and those business goals you ultimately want to achieve. 

By Dr Neetu Johnson MD

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