I was 31 years old when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
When I heard those words from my therapist, I wasn’t surprised. I knew there was something going on for a while and worked for a long time to distract myself from it. Going to therapy was to finally help me get those answers.
She informed me that I was functioning from the habits I developed around my diagnoses, but those habits weren’t serving me. Because of the extra pressure and stress I was putting myself under with my business, I was triggering them to become more heightened.
Running a business on the side of a full-time day job is mentally and physically exhausting for anyone. For me, it triggered my existing mental health issues that I didn’t even know I had.
Researchers at the University of California recently studied the link between entrepreneurship and mental illness. They found that 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed were dealing with at least one mental illness, some of them being:
- Bipolar disorder
You don’t have to have any of these to experience mental health challenges while starting your blog or business either.
In a society that glorifies entrepreneurship and tells us we are never enough, there are very real mental health challenges that come up.
Mental Health Challenges When Starting a Business
When you see posts on social media along the lines of “Quit your 9 to 5 to build your own business and work from anywhere you want.” or “Build passive income with a blog. I did it, so can you!”, they are selling you the idea of starting a business as an answer to your problems.
The truth is that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone and the mental health challenges that come with it very much have to do with that.
Getting Through The Mental Hurdles of “Starting”
Starting a business comes with a lot of uncertainty as you might be patching together advice from Google. Sometimes it might feel like you’re throwing spaghetti at a wall with no indication of if anything will even stick. This can cause feelings like self-doubt and inadequacy, and make it difficult to progress to the next steps in starting your business.
With a blog that is tied to your personal likeness comes the constant need to “show up” for your audience and readers. You might start to get bogged down in what others might think and the day-to-day stress of having to show up in some way every single day. This can quickly breed burnout and depression.
As you’re starting a blog and building out your business, look to free online courses on starting a business to help you power through those initial hurdles.
Connecting with others in online communities via Facebook groups and Slack communities provides you community support you might need when starting. Especially with how lonely entrepreneurship can be at times.
For blogging, you can search online for “Free Blogging Mastermind” groups or on Facebook and filter on groups to find groups that were created for this specific reason.
Dealing With Rejection
With any new venture, you usually have to go through twice as many rejections before you start getting somewhere.
Rejection can bring on complicated feelings that can easily derail your efforts in your new business. It’s a slew of emotions including shame, sadness, rage, confusion, fear of failing, and even grief. However, you can’t avoid rejection. Rejection is a very real part of online entrepreneurship as it requires you to continually put yourself out there. With that, inevitably comes rejection.
So, how can we combat those feelings that come with rejection?
Reach out to the client, publication, or company and ask them for feedback on why they passed on working with you.
Regulate your emotions when reviewing this feedback and remember that it isn’t personal. Don’t ruminate on it too much. Keep it moving because I guarantee you those rejections are so you can free up space for the opportunities that were meant specifically for you.
Your people and ideal clients are out there, and you’ll find them, but it may take some time.
Money and mental health have a strong connection.
Financial anxiety is one of the largest reported mental health issues when starting a blog or business. Especially if you’ve left your day job to run your business or blog full time.
In the earlier stages of your business, income will be much more irregular versus a stable income from a W2 job as an employee working for a business. You also lose out on benefits like employer-sponsored health care, paid time off, travel benefits, bonuses, and a stable income.
However, you can combat some of this anxiety by starting your blog or business as a side hustle first and then building up to eventually pivot to doing it full time.
Once you get your business up and running, there are business registrations available like an S-corp registration type, that makes it possible to pay yourself a stable salary every month. I recommend speaking to an accountant to discuss these options available to you and how you can set up a stable financial foundation in your business.
Regulating Your Energy
When running a business, your energy can easily get drained.
Do you know the saying “love what you do and never work a day in your life”? That saying is complete BS.
I’ve found that it is actually the contrary. When you love what you do, you pour even more effort and time into it because of how much it means to you. It’s 100% yours, your creation, and that bond with that work is much deeper than any job.
It is important to focus on your energy, how you spend it, who you give it to, and make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep between your day-to-day work.
This can mean limiting screen time on social media, limiting the access your readers have to you, getting enough sleep every night, and taking steps to manage your stress levels.
Some other tips for regulating your energy include:
- Setting regular hours for working on your blog, and sticking to them as much as possible
- Taking breaks throughout the day to stretch, rest, and recharge
- Practicing mindfulness or meditation to help you focus on the present moment and reduce stress
- Not giving your energy to things like constantly comparing yourself to other business owners and bloggers
Mental Health Matters
It’s never worth it to prioritize profits over your mental health. Your mental health is the single most important part of your business.
There are ways of coping with these mental health challenges with therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes as you start to listen to your body and get familiar with the best ways of working with your energy in your business.
When looking for accessible and affordable therapy, check out sites like BetterHelp, TalkSpace, or PsychologyToday.
You deserve a successful business that doesn’t cost you your mental health.