Real Leaders

Ways to Stop Hustle Culture Destroying Your Mental Health

Are you a business owner or company leader who seems to struggle with excessive stress, negative thoughts, depression, or anxiety? You’re not alone.

According to a study by UC Berkeley, 72% of entrepreneurs struggle with their mental health. This is obviously a problem, but what can you do to have optimal mental health?  

One of the most overlooked ways for business leaders to keep up with their mental health is to be proactive. You see on social media and the news every day different things you can do to help when you are feeling anxious or depressed, but not as much about how to keep you from getting there in the first place. That’s what I am most interested in. You need to be proactive with your mental health, just like you are proactive with your business. You don’t wait until your business is in a sharp decline to do something about it. You prepare your business, in the beginning, to hopefully keep from getting to that point. It would help if you did the same thing with your mental health, and here’s how.

Start your morning the right way. I’ve talked to many business people, and a vast majority of them say that the first thing they do is check their email. By doing this, you are taking your mind from the most peaceful state of sleep and immediately overloading it with stimuli to your brain. This can cause anxiety, and that’s not how you want to start your day. Your brain wasn’t designed to handle that many stimuli, especially in your first waking moments.

Start practicing giving time to be with yourself to start the day. This could be doing a 5-10 minute meditation, journaling, writing down things you are grateful for, speaking self-affirmations, or even something as simple as taking a short walk around the neighborhood. You’ll find that you will have more mental energy and less anxiety throughout the day. This process prepares your brain to take on all the challenges you will receive in your business for the day.  

The morning isn’t the only time you can be proactive with your mental health. It would help if you took scheduled breaks/time to play during the day. According to The Hustle’s survey, 63% of business owners either feel burnt out or have in the past. In the business world, you are constantly told that you must work hard and work more to succeed. This advice is contradictory. While you feel you may be on the right track busting out 16 hours every day, this will more than likely lead to a burnout that will have you feeling depressed and on your butt doing nothing for a week or more.

All that extra time you put towards your business gets consumed by the time you spend trying to get yourself back together from the depression and burnout. Taking play breaks for yourself doesn’t mean you have to take the day off or even several hours away from your business. You can do something as simple as taking a 20-minute Netflix break to relax and focus on something other than work. Taking breaks is hard for many business owners, but once you see the results, you’ll notice you will be doing better for your business by taking time for yourself in the middle of the day.

Finally, improving your sleep is one of the best ways to keep your mental health on track. We’ve all seen the hyper-successful boast about how they wake up at crazy hours in the morning and finish their day late at night, leaving a few hours of sleep. This is not good for your mental health. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep significantly impacts your mental health. If your sleep is off, so is your mental health. I learned some quick tips to improve your sleep from the book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. Stop using screens 90 minutes before bed.

The blue light from your cell phone, TV, computer, etc., harms your sleep quality. Create a caffeine curfew where you stop drinking caffeine after a specific time of the day. Shawn suggests making it no later than 2 pm as caffeine has an 8-hour half-life. Go to bed and wake up within 30 minutes of the same time each day and night. This will help build a healthy sleep pattern for yourself. Lastly, black out your bedroom as much as possible. You’d be surprised how the smallest amount of light can impact your sleep quality.

You are an example for our future leaders. Lead by example by showing them that taking care and being proactive with your mental health is the secret to a successful business and a happy life. The movement to increase mental health awareness starts with you.

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