Don’t compromise on your mental health, fellow entrepreneur.

Nobody and nothing is bigger than you.

This is something that I have felt very strongly about since the time I started battling depression, anxiety and insomnia for the second time in my life.

A general sense of anxiety and stress has become of a part and parcel of almost everyone’s life — But I can speak for entrepreneurs, alone.

As I come across a news update about an entrepreneur succumbing to an alleged suicide — I was reminded how fragile this mental balance is.

Our mind will talk us down at the first instance of things starting to break, even if the issue is short term, our harsh words to self stay fresh for far longer in our heads than the problems.

Entrepreneurs face a different kind of pressure. It is manifold, the demands and fickle nature of the job keep evolving, it is almost impossible to explain and be upfront everything to people close to you.

It is not out of arrogance but the aspect that one has chosen such a profession, which is rife with seemingly insurmountable problems seems very obtuse to some.

The thing that only entrepreneurs tend to understand is the motive or reason behind their choice is all that matters to them and this is a pickle that most are unable to wrap their head around. Seems almost masochistic.

It is difficult to get perspective when you are in the midst of the storm.

It is pertinent for entrepreneurs to have a support system in terms of friends, supporting family and spouse plus a network to rely on when things are going downhill to see that there are others who are going through similar issues.

I would like to share a few ways in which you can relook and get perspective when shit hits the fan.

Might seem too simple and obvious, at first glance but read through, they are bound to resonate and remember Occam’s razor has at times, solved the most complicated pickles.

  1. Stay in touch with friends. I am referring to your school and college friends. People who knew you before you became the compulsive workaholic wreck that you are, now. They will give you an idea of the world outside and keep you sane. A few laughs are all you need to get out of a funk, at times. Just talking to someone about something other than work, term sheets, MRR, ARR, marketing and app design can be soothing beyond belief.
  2. Be nice to your family. Keep them close. Take out time in a week or two to meet them. If it is not possible — talk to them every day, the same logic as friends applies here, as well. With family, they will call you on your BS earlier than friends(in some cases) plus there is unconditional love that comes free. More of that, please. Take little breaks with them and your partner. Nourish and cherish these equations because they are forever. Time is limited.
  3. Have a screen-free time scheduled in a month. Entrepreneurs turn into automatons who are always working because their todo list is longer than their goddamn life. I cannot say much against being a workaholic as I struggle with it too but put in mandatory time blocks when there would not be any screen time or work time.
  4. Create a list of things or small tasks that add to your joy. Make this list, keep it handy. If you are having a shit day or a series of shitty days — pick out one or five things off that list and force yourself to do them. It is important to get distance to not lose perspective.
  5. Take out time for yourself. Every goddamn day. This is important. Do not give in to the pressures of work, social life and personal life. Keep that 30–45–60-minute block sacred in your day. It is for you. Choose what you will do in this time. What will you nourish — mind, body or soul?
  6. Find your catharsis. What keeps you sane in moments of utter and complete despair? Is it writing? Meditating? Tearing up newspapers? Having a tub of ice cream? Find your thing. Do that thing. Release. Do not keep it bottled up. Release. Live. Your life is now. It is passing now, in this very moment. Nobody else will fix it for you. Release. Fix. Restart.
  7. Speak to a therapist. This gets a lot of eye rolls but if you are short on time — get an app on your phone. Talk to a professional. You can only work when you are calm and mentally healthy. Do not take mental health lightly. Your mind can play tricks on you — you might do things that you regret, grey your hair prematurely, gain or lose weight and strength and at times, much much worse.
  8. Remind yourself to find joy in the small moments. Do not wait for that big moment. It is good to have that big goal but to not live or suspend all joy until then is just idiotic. Capture the moments. Now.
  9. Practise gratitude. It is difficult to feel negativity when you are choosing to stay in grace and gratitude. Remember all that you can be grateful for — make a list, if that helps or set a reminder to name 3 things that you are grateful for every day in your phone.
  10. Step outside or do something that involves getting off your bum. Get up. Take a walk. If you can and enjoy it, then take a drive. Just sit outside and get some fresh air. Take yourself out for a coffee and cake. Or a doughnut. Get some space.
  11. If you are struggling with any aspect of your work — take help. Here, I am referring to getting coaching. Speak to a coach, take a course, learn or follow their free material. A coach would help you unleash your inner power like never before. They do not need to be an expert in what you do — that is what mentors are for — but they can help you get perspective by making you ask yourself the right questions, with the correct context.
  12. Join a community of fellow entrepreneurs. If not done so already, then join a club, a meetup or go for an event and meet up with your peers and get the requisite support.
  13. If you are facing an obstacle that seems insurmountable — like money or issues with compliances or hiring, scaling or process related issues then take an approach wherein you break the problem in small obstacles, if it still does not make a dent. Then, choose to talk to people who have surmounted these, or talk to mentors. Talk to your friends and family — if not of the exact problem but at least let them know that you need some extra love and support, in that period. Reach out to people using social media groups or tag relevant people and ask directly. You would be surprised by the number of times you would get support when you ask for it. Asking for help does not make you weak — it is powerful because it stems from self-awareness.
  14. If you are thinking of self-harm, switch your thoughts. Flip them entirely. Think of all the good. If nothing seems to be working, make an effort and call a suicide helpline. You are stronger than you think.

I could write a book on this — I am already at it but well, until that is out, please use this article.

Stay. It is important that on this journey of creation — you stay.

Stay alive, stay mentally healthy because no goal or dream is bigger than you. You are building all this for yourself so choose to make every moment in your life amazing.

Breathe. Stay.

(This was originally posted on Medium, Jul 30, 2019)

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