Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to create your own gig. There’s freedom in starting your own business, with flexible hours and the ability to really choose the work you’re passionate about. Plus, you will get a sense of accomplishment knowing you’re the sole reason that money is flowing in once you’re settled.
It can be scary to navigate the newness of entrepreneurship. Beyond the challenges of where or when you’re going to find your next client, it can also be taxing on your mental health. Many feel isolated when working remotely from others – it’s tough to go from being surrounded by people to bounce ideas off of or talk with about your favorite TV show to being fully alone.
Mental health issues in the U.S. have reached epidemic proportions across the broad population, with one in five U.S. adults experiencing mental illness each year. And according to a recent study, start-up founders are:
- Twice as likely to suffer from depression
- Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD
- Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
- 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
- Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization
- Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts
It’s time we address the issue head-on, especially for those who work for themselves. Here are some of the top ways to support your mental health while being your own boss to support.
Dress the Part
Let’s talk about your office. Most entrepreneurs generally start out working from their house or apartment, and in light of COVID, that’s almost guaranteed.
While nearly all of us have had a taste of working from home during COVID, it’s important to set yourself up for success for the long-term. It’s tempting to stay in pajamas all day – we all did this in March- but getting in a regular routine of showering and wearing “out of the house clothes” every day can help you focus on work.
Get Up from Your Desk
Ask yourself, when was the last time you checked your steps? There may be times when your whole day takes place within the four walls of your home, and chances are you’re probably not getting 10,000 steps inside your living room.
Creating some non-work-related routines to do at home, such as starting the day with a walk or making yourself take a lunch break at your dining table (without your computer), can make sure you don’t feel like you’re chained to your desk 24/7 and will help you get to a better place mentally.
Stay in Touch
Many that work for themselves do their nine-to-five work with little to no communication from peers or clients. This might feel especially lonely as people begin returning to normal workplace environments.
Many companies offer instant messaging services like Slack and GChat to help increase communication across teams. As a “solopreneur,” ask your clients if you can join them on these services to help create a bond and decrease isolation.
If you don’t have access to these platforms, try joining Facebook groups for entrepreneurs. Typically members are eager to help, collaborate and refer.
Know When You Need More
What happens if you take a shower every day, have your daily walk around the block, communicate with others in the outside world, and yet you’re still suffering from depression or anxiety? Well, it’s time to seek help, and that means decoding your insurance.
Let’s face it, health insurance is awful. It’s hard to navigate and it’s expensive. The average solopreneur without Obamacare subsidies pays $1,021 per month in healthcare premiums. Average plan deductibles range from $4,328 for individuals to $8,352 for families. Combine that with the cost of regular visits to a therapist (between $100-200 per session) that may or may not be covered by insurance, and the costs start to add up quickly.
Many therapists do not take health insurance. If this applies to you, you can still save funds down the road with other healthcare expenses by submitting those costs towards your deductible. And if you have a flex spending account, you can use your card to pay for your sessions.
Additionally, there are new low-cost option providers who can offer support via online video chat.
Do your research. Ask your friends who they see and make time for yourself. If you don’t get the help you need, you’re not going to be your best at work.
Give Yourself a Break!
Lastly, let’s talk about the Shark Tank mentality – the idea that if you aren’t working your fingers to the bone 24/7, you aren’t really an entrepreneur.
Guess what? It’s not true. You wouldn’t be making a living if people didn’t want to pay you. So stop that broken record in your head and make time to take care of yourself. It’s an investment in your business.
That time away from the computer walking around the block can help you think more clearly and even be more creative. That time in a therapist’s office can help you organize your thoughts and put your issues into perspective. Take care of yourself physically and mentally and you’ll slay this entrepreneur thing on your own terms. Get off the couch, put down your laptop, take a shower, eat a healthy lunch, take a walk, chat online with a colleague and THEN get to work.
You’ll thank your “boss” later.