Kharissa Forte is a writer, certified health coach, and columnist for Startland News. For more of her self-care tips on how to keep your cup full, visit graceandgrind.co.
You did it. After all the nights dreaming about how amazing it could be and overcoming the endless stream of what-ifs that stopped you from moving forward in the past, you finally launched your business. Sure, it’s hard work but you didn’t expect it to be exactly easy. Besides, the lifestyle benefits that come from uniting your passions and skills in holy matrimony makes it all worth it. This should be the happiest season of your life, right?
Yeah, well, maybe not so much.
Depression among entrepreneurs is more common than you might think. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that 72 percent of entrepreneurs struggle with mental health issues.
As a fellow entrepreneur, it makes total sense to me. Between trying to prove the doubters wrong, balance logistics with creativity, and defeat imposter syndrome, the combination of pressures from the outside world and that which we put on ourselves is enough to make any business builder spiral.
Michael A. Freeman, a psychiatrist who studied the connection between entrepreneurship and mental health, told Inc. that “People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states.”
This, my friends, is one of the biggest reasons why it’s so important to view self-care as part of who you are instead of as something that you do. That mindset shift can completely change your approach to self-care and it makes you more likely to implement practices that are equal parts preventative and rejuvenating.
If depression has attempted to take you captive, remember these two truths: first, you’re far from alone and, second, this too shall pass. Here are a few ways to help stop depression from robbing you of your creativity, purpose, and joy.
Pinpoint the real issue
I love a good comeback story. This could be due to the fact that I flunked out of college the first time around and had to start all over as a single mom. Shows like “Revenge Body With Khloe Kardashian” make me bubble over with excitement.
While it does feel good to overcome the odds and make something of your life, especially through building a business, success alone isn’t the sweetest revenge.
Enter healing. Be it our own mistakes or victimizing circumstances that tried to take your power, traumatic experiences can be a launching pad for moving into your calling. Though there is a purpose behind the pain, the pain itself doesn’t have to be your platform. Building a business rooted in pain is like planting a garden in bad soil and can infest the entire bedrock of your brand with bad vibes.
So, what’s really going on? What toxic experiences have you had in your life that shaped how you think and feel in a way that has adversely affected how you move within your business? Chances are these patterns show up in your personal life, too.
- First, recognize the behavior and what triggered it.
- From there, ask yourself “What thoughts and feelings drive me to behave this way?” Keep in mind, thoughts and feelings are two different things. Statements that start with “I believe that…” can help you realize the thought and statements that start with “The emotions I experience are…” can help you name the feeling.
- Lastly, ask yourself, “Who in my life made me feel this way? What situations in my life caused me to develop these beliefs?”
With this exercise, not only will you start the healing process, but you’ll begin to lift the haze of depression that’s debilitating your work.
Stop abusing your body
If you’ve fallen prey to the idea that sleep is for the weak, think again.
A study by Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience concluded that 90 percent of people with depression complain about their ability to sleep and 40 percent have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Learn how to put your racing mind to rest by establishing firm boundaries around your work time and by ending the day with mindfulness meditation, a practice that recenters your attention on the present moment. It might also be a good idea to keep a journal handy where you can get thoughts out of your head and revisit them later.
Some of the most brilliant people I’ve worked with eat dirty as hell and it’s not uncommon in the entrepreneurial space.
According to WebMD, a clean diet can’t cure depression, but it can ease symptoms. Choose foods that are rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, taking a vitamin D supplement can help, as well. (If you’re vegan, you’ll want to get D2 instead of D3.) Complex carbs are another depression-fighting food. The high fiber, low sugar ratio can boost serotonin levels and stabilize your mood.
Lastly, exercise. Per Harvard Health, it can work just as well as antidepressants for some people. Cardio workouts release endorphins and endorphins make you feel good. You don’t have to do the most, either. A quick HIIT workout or walk around the block will suffice. Just choose something sustainable and commit.
Seek medical help
There’s no shame in popping a Xanax — a prescribed Xanax for you from your doctor, not a couple of pills you got from the wine guzzling housewife across the street. My point is that we can only do so much. It’s OK to talk to your doctor about medication to help you along the way, especially if you’re implementing other practices and aren’t seeing results.
We weren’t designed to go through life having to figure everything out on our own. We all need professional help, honey. In addition to talking with your doctor, find a counselor. A lot of counselors offer virtual services now and apps like Talkspace and Better Help offer real-life virtual counseling, too. If you don’t feel like you need to talk to a therapist, but just need a little extra help, there’s an app for that. Bloom for Apple users is my personal favorite. They have an Android version in the works, but I’ve heard good things about Moodfit if you don’t have an iPhone.
If you ever start thinking about harming yourself, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. You can call them at (800) 273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org to chat with someone.
The Big Aha
It’s easy to slip into depression when the weight of the world is on your shoulders, so let’s remove it. This is your business, your life, your terms. Healing from past trauma, catering to the health of your body, and protecting the well-being of your mind are essential for creating a business with self-care at the core. It doesn’t mean every day will be easy, but it does mean self-care will become an intricate part of who you are instead of something else you have to do.
Fueled by her expertise as a writer, certified health coach, and local business owner, Kharissa Forte is passionate about helping entrepreneurs in Kansas City achieve their goals without sacrificing self-care. Check out her personal blog and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This commentary is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.