I'm depressed, and I'm sad to say it's been like this for a while.
It's weird to share that on the internet with strangers, but it's no surprise that I've struggled with this for the past few years. We've all been in a sort of funk, right?
Well, the good news for me (and you, if you're struggling, too) is that this is more common than you think, and there are many healthy ways to manage depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health issues entrepreneurs face. Why, you ask? Running a business can be tremendously stressful, especially if you're managing a team of employees, working through constant hurdles and challenges, or interfacing with customers frequently. It's no wonder that founders + entrepreneurs often feel overwhelmed and discouraged.
So what exactly are depression and anxiety, what are the symptoms, and how can you combat them?
Depression and anxiety have become buzzwords in recent years. With them being thrown around so frequently, it’s hard to distill what they truly mean. In the simplest form, depression is spending too much time and energy focusing on the past and where you could have done better. Anxiety is similar, but it's more about worrying about the future and what's to come instead of being past-focused. Considering these issues under these terms is a great way to understand what depression and anxiety are so you can start to recognize them in yourself. Are you thinking too much about something you screwed up weeks ago, or are you worried about what's to come? Maybe it's a bit of both, but identifying the feelings that bubble up is the first step.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope and move through these feelings and remain productive, so your business can continue to thrive.
First and foremost, it's essential to recognize the signs of depression and anxiety and how it manifests in your body. The most common symptoms include changes in sleep patterns, lack of motivation or disinterest in things you used to enjoy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, changes in appetite or weight loss/gain, restlessness or agitation, difficulty making decisions, and difficulty connecting with people. If you're feeling these symptoms and might be anxious or depressed, it's important to find help or counseling as soon as possible.
One way to combat depression and anxiety is through exercise and movement! Exercise has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress levels and boost moods by releasing endorphins into the body. Exercise can also help improve your overall mental health by providing a distraction from the stresses of running a business and take your mind off things for a bit. You don’t have to go green and hurl those heavyweights like Hulk; taking a short walk around the block or some simple stretches can help clear your mind and positively impact your mental health.
Journaling is another powerful tool that can help you combat anxiety and depression and this one is my favorite. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you can begin to address underlying issues and develop healthier coping mechanisms. In particular, journaling encourages us to confront our fears and insecurities head-on. It also requires self-awareness and being mindful of our mental state, which is vital in managing stress. Additionally, setting aside dedicated writing time can provide structure and clarity that helps you stay on track with your goals. I love tuning into my journal to re-read where I was and remember where I'm going and WHY!
Another way to manage depression and anxiety is by taking some ME time regularly. This could mean anything from getting a massage to getting your nails done regularly or giving yourself a few extra moments in the shower. Maybe it's blocking off time each day where you sit quietly and think about nothing; it could be meditating for 5 minutes or stepping outside to get some fresh air. Whatever you decide to do for yourself every day, make sure it helps you relax and clear your mind from all the stressors of running a business.
Don't forget to practice self-care when running your business. Here are some mental health suggestions to add to your routine:
Take regular breaks throughout the day ⏰
Practice healthy eating habits - fruits and veggies! 🍑
Get plenty of restful sleep 😴
Stay connected with friends and family 👩👩👧👧
Find activities you enjoy that reduce stress 🏃♀️
Consider doing yoga or meditation 🧘♀️
Seek professional support if needed
Challenge negative thoughts and remind yourself it's ONLY thoughts, not reality
Set realistic, SMART goals so you can achieve them!
Surround yourself with positive people 👯♀️
Practice gratitude every day 🙏
Laugh as often as you can 🤣
Take vacations when possible 👙
Avoid alcohol or drugs as much as possible
Stay organized – keep track of meetings/deadlines/priorities ✔️
Allow yourself time for relaxation without worrying about business-related tasks 🛀
Managing depression and anxiety while running a business is never easy. Make sure you prioritize your mental health and self-care above all else. After all, a business only runs as smoothly as the owner. Get yourself in check!