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Mental Health Essentials for Entrepreneurs

Please raise your hand if you have an easy life. No, not you? I’m not surprised. There is no such thing as an easy life. Life is stressful for all of us. Starting and running a business can be particularly stressful – I am in the midst of starting my own business right now and I know how it feels. You are on your own, and for every job you tick off your to do list, another 10 get added. It is exhilarating and exhausting.


You will get there and be a huge success. You really will. But what you cannot afford to do is to neglect your mental health while you are becoming enormously successful. Whatever your business is, your head is a huge part of it. You cannot afford to lose your powers of thought, concentration and creativity – it was those that got you started in the first place, remember?


So here are some basic ideas to keep in mind to help you manage and maintain your mental health alongside all the other calls on your valuable time.


We all have mental health to take care of


Mental health is not something that is only relevant to people with mental illness. We all have mental health just as we all have physical health. Just as our bodies can feel better or worse from day to day depending on how we treat them, what we are going through and a whole host of other factors, so can our minds. It is perfectly normal to be happy some days and not so happy others, just as many of our physical aches and pains come and go without cause for concern. 


But just as we need to take care of our bodies, we need to take care of and be aware of our mental health, do things to help and improve it and recognise when we may need to seek help. 


Mental health is linked to physical health


I am not physically fit at all at present. It’s something I need to address. But even I know how good that burst of endorphins you get after doing some exercise feels. I know that sometimes the best thing I can do when I am down, and I have suffered with severe depression all my life, is to take some exercise. Shortly before I sat down to write this, I cut my front lawn for the first time this year. My body is now in agony, but mentally I feel so good!


Your business may be something that keeps you physically fit in itself, like being an exercise instructor or builder. But if you spend the majority of your time sitting down in an office, taking some exercise gives a double dividend – it helps your body and your mind. 


The links between physical and mental health are extensive. Take care of one and you take care of the other. 


Build a support network


I am sure that as good business people you already know how important it is to have a good network of contacts and supporters. The same applies to your mental health. You cannot do it all on your own. You need your family and friends to look out for you just as you look out for them. You need people you can rant at and who can rant at you to get things off your chest. You need people who can give you a trusted second opinion when you face problems and difficult decisions. A problem shared truly is a problem halved.

Whatever you face, today or in the future, you are not alone. If you do not have the support network you need, you can build one online through social media. You can find people that face the same challenges as you, and maybe people that have found solutions that you haven’t thought of. I am autistic, and when I was first diagnosed a few years ago I was amazed and delighted to find that there was not a single issue I had faced for years thinking I was alone that was not also being dealt with by many other people. There is comfort and strength in that. 


Of course you must be careful with social media. Sadly not everyone is as they claim to be. Social media can be awful for mental health when used for bullying and abuse, just as this behaviour is damaging in real life. Step away as soon as anything online starts to get you down. But most people are basically good and kind. Reach out and find your niche. 


Be kind to yourself


Every entrepreneur that I have ever met is driven. Determined to work hard and succeed. That’s great, and it is important. But we all have limits. Taking a break is not being idle. We all need to do things that we like to do, to take time for us. It is vital for the wellness of your mind to give yourself time to heal and recharge. It is never selfish to do something that you need to do to protect your mental health.


Give your business all you have, but remember that it is going nowhere without you. Look after yourself. 


It is ok not to be ok


Struggling with your mental health is not a weakness nor is it something that many of us have any control over. When someone goes down with sickness or breaks their arm we do not hold it against them and think that they are a weak person. The same should apply to mental health. And just as you would go straight to the doctor or the hospital with a broken arm, you should seek help with your mental health when you need it. 


I waited years too long to seek help with my depression. Now it is managed with medication that has changed my life. At first I was reluctant to be reliant on taking pills, but a wise counsellor pointed out to me that if I was diabetic I would have no problem in taking regular medication to manage it, which was true. Mental illness is no different. But you must seek proper medical advice.


When you are physically worn out, you are most at risk of physical disease. When you are starting or running a business, you are very likely to become mentally exhausted at times, which makes you more vulnerable to mental illness. By taking a few easy steps as I have set out here, you can take care of your mind as well as your body. Please look after yourself. You are special, precious and important.


Thanks to Mark Palmer for writing a blog for IMPACT. To read more of his work please follow details below:


Mark Palmer is a freelance writer specialising in mental health, autism and neurodiversity. He be contacted through his website, by email at and on twitter @MarkPWriter.