5 tips from a psychologist on mental wellbeing for entrepreneurs.
4 May 2020
As a business owner, your own mental wellbeing is often the last thing on your mind. Managing supply chains, trading under lockdown and even the wellbeing of your staff can take priority over your own mental health – but it shouldn’t be like this.
With this in mind, we’ve asked Dina Grishin, a psychologist who specialises in supporting entrepreneurs, to share some of her tried and tested strategies for boosting mental wellness during this time. A regular speaker at The Wing, General Assembly and The Hoxton, Dina has coached hundreds of individuals through their personal business journeys – from CEOs to small business owners. Here are some of her practical tips to ensure a healthy mind:
Rethink the relationship you have with time.
“As humans, but especially as entrepreneurs, we have this tendency to daydream about having more time, and all the things we’d do with it. But now, we’ve suddenly got all that extra time we were dreaming of, so we create this internal pressure to be more productive – especially if our usual way of doing business is closed. This way of thinking definitely comes from a good place, but what a lot of people are forgetting right now is that we are collectively going through a trauma – a period of incredible stress. Due to this, you need to accept the fact that you’re not going to be as productive as you’d hoped.
The remedy to maintaining a healthy relationship with time is by working slower, not harder – as this will no doubt result in the dreaded ‘burnout’. Take this opportunity to do something good for your mental health.”
Dial down your news consumption.
“It’s crucial to be switched on to what the current situation means for you and your business as it develops, but you can definitely have too much contact with the news. When we watch the news, we psychologically remove ourselves from our immediate surroundings and everything we have control over. Instead, we fly to a bird’s eye view of the world and become overwhelmed with all of the things we can’t control – resulting in high amounts of stress. Instead, check the official government advice page once a day for all the latest information so you’re only consuming what’s relevant to you. Or, only allow yourself to watch it at one fixed time of the day. Make sure you spend the rest of your day focusing on the things you have power over.”
Don’t feel too responsible for your staff.
“This one is particularly relevant for those who have had to let some (or all) of their staff go – a problem being faced by the hospitality industry in particular. It’s natural to feel sad when this has to happen, but what you shouldn’t do is shoulder the full blame for the situation. The current crisis isn’t your fault. It’s out of your control. And it can sometimes be for the better, I speak from experience. I used to do coaching for the recently redundant, and nearly all of them moved on to do better things in new exciting careers. You should also consider the possibility that if you have really good relationships with your staff, they might not want to say that they’re doing well because they’re afraid to hurt your feelings. Sometimes, redundancy can be an incredibly transformational time.”
Add structure to your workday.
“Whenever I get clients telling me that they feel like shit at the end of every day, I always ask them to describe what a typical working day looks like more them. More often than not, it’s a wall of work punctuated by sleep. Knowing when to start and end a day is a challenge for founders at the best of times, but setting a daily routine (and sticking to it) is self-care at its most practical. Entrepreneurs get pleasure out of feeling productive, but you need to find pleasure in other areas too, otherwise, your mental health suffers. Some people exercise or start cooking to mark the end of the day. Some physically clearing away all of their ‘work stuff’ - out of sight, out of mind. Some like to imagine they’re on their commute home by listening to a podcast at the end of the day - but you should find what works for you and helps you switch off.”
“One of the most powerful human emotions is guilt, and it’s one that’s very common to experience when things are going well. For the businesses who have kept their doors open or even seeing record sales, they’re facing a different kind of challenge with their mental health. ‘Am I allowed to feel positive during a pandemic?’ Yes, you are. But it’s only natural that we feel a little bit of guilt when you succeed while others are struggling. I try to get my clients to think of how feeling guilty is of no use to anybody, but how powerful embracing positivity is. From your place of stability, use your expertise and resources to help your peers stay afloat, or think of ways you can collaborate. Doing good will boost your mental wellbeing and help others to stay positive.”