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Farida Yahya: Your Mental Health May Be Affecting Your Business

Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

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I am sure you have read and watched countless guides on how to become a successful startup founder. I have read quite a few myself and imagine my utter shock when the frustration from challenges started weighing heavy. From sleepless nights to anxiety, the way an entrepreneur reacts to failure can sometimes be the real enemy they need to conquer.  While it can be tempting to focus all of your time and attention on your business, it’s also important that you take care of yourself.

Depending on the type of business you run, some of the problems you may have include:

  • Constantly working for long hours to get your business off the ground or meet your business’ demands.
  • Partaking in business-related activities such as the creation of products, replying business emails and having business calls – all of which blurs the boundaries between your home and work.
  • Feeling lonely due to the absence of someone to share business ideas or problems with. Or the inability to have someone who understands the demands of being an entrepreneur. 
  • Having multiple roles as well as managing the additional demands of running a business.
  • Dealing with responsibilities such as family financial issues.

Early Warning Signs

It’s important to be aware of some of the common signs and symptoms that let you know that you may be struggling with your mental health. 

Some of the early warning signs include:

  • Lack of concentration;
  • Tiredness/Fatigue;
  • Unnecessary emotional response/ crying;
  • Easily angry or frustrated;
  • Inability or difficulty with making decisions;
  • Avoiding social situations; and
  • Drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

While being an entrepreneur seems exciting – you’re pursuing a passion, being your own boss, making money and working on your schedule; however, the responsibilities that come with the role isn’t easy.

The following are tips to help you enjoy good mental health without compromising your health.

Acknowledge your mental health above everything else

Running a business is a full-time job. Running a successful business involves being at your best physically, mentally and emotionally. Businesses cannot run effectively if the owners are burnt out.

One rule of the thumb is to dedicate an amount of time for you. It could be as simple as reading a book, drawing, making crafts or listening to music. Learn to relax and involve in activities that would make you happier and relieve your stress.

Learn how to ask for help

Many times, people compare asking for help as a show of weakness.  For example, letting someone know that you’re unable to manage your workload isn’t a show of weakness.

And as a business owner myself, I know that the last thing you want is for your employees to know that you’re struggling emotionally or feeling overwhelmed. However, the longer you try to cover it up and overcompensate, the worse it will end up. As doubtful as it sounds, asking for help is a show of strength. Acknowledging your limits and taking the right steps to overcome them is an attribute of a strong leader, 

Avoid unhealthy comparison

Social media would have us believe everyone is living their best lives; travelling, buying property, running successful businesses. The line between reality and perception is becoming increasingly blurred, and when you’re having a bad day, this can make you feel incredibly bad about yourself

Comparison on social media is unavoidable, and psychological research has shown that this kind of comparison leads to a list of mental health concerns. Thinking that you’re the only person struggling with your workload or not having reached this [often imaginary] level of success can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression.

Because social media also allows us to network, connect with our peers and customers, and take our businesses to a global level, it’s impossible to disconnect from it altogether. Managing the amount of time you spend on it and the type of things you do while online is crucial to your mental well-being.

Create a balanced, healthy lifestyle

This one may seem obvious, but sleep deprivation, poor diet, and lack of exercise are just as bad for your mental health as physical. Though it may be difficult in the fast-paced startup life, committing to these important daily activities can be the deciding factor in whether your business fails or succeeds.

Force yourself to go to sleep by a certain time every night so that you’re getting the right amount of sleep and also getting your body into a healthy habit.

Make sure to set aside even 30 minutes of time a day to get in some quick cardio or a short one-hour class at the gym. And don’t neglect your diet! It doesn’t take much effort to take care of yourself, and the benefits are quite literally life-saving.

Farida Yahya is the Founder of Lumo Naturals, an Abuja-based natural haircare solutions brand that provides a combination of natural products, techniques, artistic styles and education about African hair and the importance of healthy and natural hair to natural hair owners. She is also the founder of The Brief Academy, a learning hub dedicated to developing and supporting female-owned startups to achieving wealth and scalability. Farida is also the author of Redefining Beautiful, a book that discusses the realities of starting a natural hair business. You can connect with Farida Yahya on Instagram via her personal page @thefaridayahya and her business pages @lumonaturals and @thebriefacademy.

8 Comments

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