Entrepreneurs need to create a mental health plan, the same as you create a business plan. No matter how great your business plan is, you will not succeed without a healthy mind.
In order to succeed in life and business, every entrepreneur needs a mental health plan. Why, because your thoughts influence your emotions, which influence your behaviors, which in turn influence your outcomes.
The healthier your mind, body, and soul connection, the better your business will develop and the better your relationships will be.
It is difficult to manage your mental health and well-being while running your own business. There is an intersection between business and mental health.
Every entrepreneur needs a mental health plan to avoid burnout.
Factors contributing to mental health challenges, hitting a wall, or becoming burnt out throughout entrepreneurial journeys include:
High achieving mindset
Isolation and loneliness
Don’t delegate soon enough resulting in burnout
It is the cumulative impact of running a business without taking care of yourself. Self-care is a complex concept, especially for high-achieving, busy women.
There is a baseline level of activation in our nervous system that makes us who we are and to have the ability to handle the stresses we are faced with. We all have a baseline level of tolerance and if we are always at the top level of this tolerance when life gets overwhelming, we peak over our personal level of tolerance. This results in burnout.
Every entrepreneur needs a mental health plan that includes inexpensive and easy-to-accomplish and repeat self-care ideas:
It is important to be able to regulate our level of stress to keep it within our level of tolerance. An idea for self-care to keep you in a positive mental state and be able to handle stresses that arise is to set a timer for every hour. When the timer rings, stand up, stretch, and look out the window.
Micro-moments of self-care and regulation of the nervous system are powerful.
We all need small doable things that we can do repeatedly.
Stimulate creativity and focus with self-care activities
When you take a moment to enjoy the world around you, you not only reset your nervous system and mindset but also stimulate your creativity. This will also help us focus on tasks ahead.
Steps to create, implement and adhere to a mental health plan
Similar to the key performance indicators you have in business, there are lead and Lag indicators for mental health.
Impact, effect, or result of lead indicators
Tasks and strategies you implement
Recognizing lag indicators – signs and symptoms – that reflect something going on in your life or business yesterday, last week, or cumulatively over time
Examples of lag indicators
Inability to sleep
Inability to make decisions
Examples of Lead indicators
Lost a client
A dip in revenue
Lag indicators help you identify how you are doing well or not doing well with your mental health.
Lead indicators are your self-care practices
For example, if you are used to running every day but haven’t run this week, and you notice that all of a sudden you feel more anxious, aren’t sleeping, etc, you realize that you haven’t run, and that has caused the additional anxiety.
Identify your lead indicators, the things that make you feel good, and do a check-in regularly.
Look at the results you are getting with the efforts you are putting in. How are you feeling today, what have I been doing, and what has led me to feel this way, good or bad? This insight will help you do more of what is making you feel good and less of what is making you feel less than good.
Your thoughts create your feelings
Fifty percent of people’s distress is caused by what they tell themselves. You can alleviate this by doing a weekly review of how you’ve felt. For example, if you lost a big client, you can associate that with not feeling good, being anxious, or being down.
A lead indicator is something that happens that affects your mood or feelings.
Tips for getting back to who you are at the core
People are unique and what works for one person may not work for another.
Therefore, it is necessary for you to look at your lead indicators and identify what soothes your nervous system, mind, body, and spirit, what nourishes your nervous system, and what discharges thoughts and feelings.
Even though every entrepreneur needs a mental health plan, navigating mental health is not a one-size-fits-all. It is a customized individual approach.
Robyn shared that her morning practice, is devotions, journaling, reading, and exercise and this helps her stay soothed and nourished.
Soothing has to do with invoking the relaxation response, down-regulating the nervous system. Anything that makes you go ahh.
Nourishment is a broad category and includes physiological, mental, and spiritual. What uplifts and energizes you and gives you a sense of meaning and connection?
Discharging is related to physical movement because stress activates the body to react physiologically. Emotion is the need to be in motion to discharge emotions.
Spirituality and mental health for entrepreneurs
Faith can be a foundation for everything that we do.
Do you feel like something is missing? You do all the things, but there is an ache in your heart, a feeling that you need something more.
Even if you don’t have a religious affiliation, you can associate these feelings with needing meaning and purpose, or with values.
The arc of the universe bends towards justice. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Finding a foundation of meaning, purpose, and values will help you feel grounded and be able to navigate life and business challenges more positively. This helps us get excited about bringing our values into the world.
Having a that there is a greater source in the world is helpful for when the going gets tough. Then you aren’t alone in the dark when things get tough.
God’s hand is present in our neighbor, the sunshine, your pets, etc. Opening your eyes to these presences in the world will nourish you.
The importance of values and entrepreneurship
Robyn emphasized how important values are. When you are aligned with your values, you experience less stress and anxiety when making decisions.
Moral injury is a phrase in the mental health industry that reflects the response people have when they have been forced to live in malalignment with their values. This is traumatic and can lead to burnout and PTSD.
If we live by and display our values, we will attract the right people and clients, make better decisions, and feel much better at the end of the day.
Mental health and being the CEO of your business
CEO self refers to the neuropsychology of mental health. When we are within our window tolerance level, our pre-frontal cortex – the CEO self – is where are higher functions reside. Our creativity, problem-solving, and moral reasoning. When our baseline level of activation goes out of our range of tolerance, our prefrontal cortex stops communicating with the rest of the brain and we lose access to our CEO self, our creativity, our wisdom, and our sense of connectedness.
When we can regulate the nervous system, we can access the best of us, our hearts and minds.
As entrepreneurs, we have to understand many aspects of our business, including marketing, sales, financials, how to manage people, etc. This is an enormous cognitive load, and we need our CEO self available for all of this.
Robyn mentioned negativity bias, the way our brain is more likely to hold onto and look for negative things than positive things. The amygdala in the limbic brain works overtime with the flight, fight, or freeze mechanism.
Creating a mental health plan will keep your CEO self healthy and permit you to move forward in your business.
About Shulamit Ber Levtov
Shulamit is the Entrepreneur’s Therapist and co-founder of the Business Therapy Centre. Using both coaching and therapeutic tools, she works with women business owners who want to develop, implement, and be accountable for their mental health plans so they can show up fully as their CEO-self in their businesses.
Learn more about Shulamit and connect with her:
Are you ready to take action to alleviate anxiety and develop a healthy mindset? Yes? Download the free eBook, Alleviate anxiety to develop healthy habits for a healthy mind.