7 Mental Health Tips for Becoming a More Balanced Entrepreneur

Actionable hacks to help you slow down, breathe and enjoy being an entrepreneur.

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Being an entrepreneur is arguably one of the most challenging jobs out there. That’s because it’s not really a job, but a lifestyle commitment that takes 100% of your effort to succeed.

The payoffs being an entrepreneur can be huge, but so can the consequences. The truth is, entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from mental health issues than regular people, including depression, anxiety, self-worth issues and addiction.

But you don’t have to resign yourself to poor mental health in order to be an entrepreneur. Here are 7 mental health tips to help keep you balanced as you go through the journey.

1. Get Proper Sleep

Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to optimize their time, and that often means getting up early and staying up late. I get it. Time is money, but good mental health requires sleep. Not getting enough sleep can crash your productivity, and cause you higher rates of depression and anxiety.

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Make an effort to always get a good 7–8 hours of sleep, and avoid thinking about work in bed, which can lead to restless sleep. Arianna Huffington is a big inspiration to me in this respect.

2. Keep Work Separate

As an entrepreneur, you may need to work 10 or 15 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t draw a distinct line between your work life and home life. Make a solid decision of when you’ve finished work for the day. Leave the office (if you have one), don’t check your email, and try to move your focus elsewhere.

If you work from home, make sure you keep your work area separate from other parts of the home, so you can easily refocus your mental energy when you’re done with work. Making time for friends, family and leisure is important for a healthy work-life balance.

3. Exercise Regularly

There are a lot of reasons entrepreneurs should exercise regularly. Research has shown that it helps get your creative juices flowing, boosts confidence and improves energy — helpful qualities of any successful entrepreneur.

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But it’s also important for mental health. Exercise has been shown to help with depression, anxiety and stress, all to common problems for today’s entrepreneur. Make time for exercise as part of your daily routine. Think of it as a task you can never skip, like brushing your teeth.

4. Prioritize Your Tasks

Entrepreneurs have many daily tasks to juggle. In order to manage them all without becoming overwhelmed with stress, it’s important to prioritize your work.

Take a few minutes everyday to identify the tasks that are most and least urgent. Don’t let interjections by others disrupt your daily priorities.

At the same time, try to minimize other work-related distractions, such as constantly checking your email and fielding phone calls. Set aside chunks of time for these tasks so you don’t spend all day trying to do everything at once.

5. Find Ways to Be Social

Humans are a social species — we derive happiness from the company of others. But many entrepreneurs, especially those who work from home, find themselves isolated from others. This is probably great for productivity, but it’s bad for your mental health in the long run.

That’s why it’s important to make efforts to be social, beyond just weekend plans with some friends. If you mostly work from your computer, then get involved with online work at home communities. Another great way to stay social is by having a pet. Believe it or not, pets have been shown to improve our mental health, including reducing stress and depression.

6. Understand the Real Meaning of Failure

Entrepreneurs are often known for having a self-worth complex, and it’s no surprise that they determine their self-worth based on their business success. Putting your self-worth at stake is an ultimate motivator to succeed at all costs, but it can also lead to devastation when you do fail.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for entrepreneurs to understand, and regularly remind themselves of, the real meaning of failure. Failure in business ventures is an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur, and should not be seen as a personal failure.

Linking your personal worth to factors that are partially or even completely out of your control can be disastrous. Try to see business failure as a learning opportunity instead.

7. Go on a Sabbatical

One item I’ve recently added to my bucket list is going on a “sabbatical”. No, I’m no college professor but who says only professors should go on sabbaticals? Taking a long time off of work is good for the brain and no one needs it more than entrepreneurs.

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I was introduced to this revolutionary idea by the excellent article of Diana Ransom, features editor at Inc. Here’s her experience:

I recently took a couple months off of my duties at Inc. to have my first child. And while I wouldn’t call this “me” time by any stretch, I would say I found the experience oddly therapeutic… While still sleep deprived, I am engaged with my job and eager to tackle new challenges, whereas before I might not have been so keen. It’s as though that time away helped me identify what is and isn’t important. Sure, I didn’t finish that book proposal I ambitiously thought I would, but I did get pretty good at typing with one hand. Also, I was able to spend time, LOTS of time, with my daughter. This treasured experience will surely only continue to enrich every other thing I do.

Once I read that, I had to go on a sabbatical. It’s not on me to make entrepreneurs buy this idea but I could be that example. And more importantly, I should say yes to a healthier me, a refreshed mind, more happiness and renewed relationships.

Those are my top 7 mental health tips, but there’s always more you can do. Comment below with your mental health tips for being a balanced entrepreneur.

Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on June 29, 2016.

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