It has never been easier to leave your 9 – 5 for that side hustle or to start your own business than it is today. We have incredible tools and business mentors at our disposal which enables us to build a business from the ground up without having a team of twenty people, startup capital or any investors. However, being a solo entrepreneur is not easy – at all! The freedom to make your own choices, answering to yourself, making all of the important business decisions alone and managing your time as you wish comes at a price.
Being a solo entrepreneur is very lonely, stressful and mentally draining. With nobody to back you up when you need it (like when you are sick), you are bound to hit a wall or experience some mental burnout or even depression if you don’t take care of yourself from the get-go.
Why is it important to prevent mental burnout as a solo entrepreneur?
Simply put, you are your business, so in order for your business to run optimally, you need to be on top of your game, at all times! If you cannot perform at your best, your business will suffer and it is a matter of time before it snowballs and you quit before you've ever really started.
10 Tips to Manage Mental Burnout:
1. Create and implement a self-care routine
You cannot run at a hundred miles an hour all the time. Have a self-care routine and actually begin implementing it!. It is a great way to ensure your productivity and focus when you work, but it allows you moments where you can switch off, unwind and relax during the day and after a long workday. Schedule out certain breather times during your day, like a quick 20-minute walk to refresh your brain and refocus before heading back to work, or a quick 10-minute meditation between projects to help you stay productive. It is important to schedule these self-care tasks and stick to them as you would stick to a scheduled meeting!
Ideas for self-care tasks include:
- Going for a walk or run
- Eating healthy food
- Drinking enough water
- Working out
- Getting coffee with a friend
- Reading something that inspires you
- Listening to music
- Gardening or spending time in nature
- Having an entire day to yourself
- Your favorite movie and snacks
- Epsom salt and essential oils baths
2. Have a set log-off time
A big mistake that solo entrepreneurs and especially those who work from home often make is to think that being on your phone or laptop working away constantly is the best way to rapidly build your business. You need structure and you need rest, so choose a log-off time that allows you to reach all of your daily goals, but that also allows you to spend time with your family, hang out with friends or just unwind before bedtime. Whether your log-off time is 5 pm or 8 pm – make sure it works for you and stick to it!
3. Separate your home and workspace if you work from home
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you work from home is to work in front of the television. It is important that you separate your work and home space from each other. This way, when you step into your office, you are in work-mode; you are ready to tackle that to-do list and get stuff done! There should be no home distractions in your workspace. And the same goes for your home space.
This is important for your mental health because it will affect how you perceive your entrepreneurship and success; it will keep you focussed and productive which means you will get more done without any distractions. This will make you feel accomplished and will boost your confidence which in the long run, affects your entire business and especially your mental health.
4. Change your environment
If you find yourself stuck in a rut or unmotivated, a change of scenery might just be the answer. Working from home or your workspace in isolation for too long can really mess with your mind (have you ever heard of cabin fever?). Schedule one day a week out and go work at your favorite coffee shop, a client’s office or a shared workspace – the change of scenery will spark your creativity and inspiration and you’ll find yourself feeling inspired and focussed again!
5. Put your health first
As a solo entrepreneur, you cannot run a successful business if you don’t look after your mental and physical health because, without you, there is no business! Make sure you eat healthily, drink a lot of water, exercise regularly and stay in a positive mental space by taking care of your mental health with various self-care techniques. Physical exercise not only keeps you fit and healthy but more often than not, it is like pressing a reset button for your brain – it is a mental therapy session. Endorphins that are released during physical exercise will boost your mood and creativity, which will only benefit your business.
6. Change up your routine
Having some sort of routine is important, but you also want to enjoy your freedom as your own boss! If you feel bored, unfocused and creatively drained, you may need to relook your routine. Change things up a bit; swop your workout time from the afternoon to the morning, get up a bit earlier or change up your working times – you’ll be surprised at how big a difference a small change in routine can make!
7. Get inspired by music and podcasts
Have you ever been in a bad mood and then your favorite song plays on the radio, and suddenly you find yourself singing along happily with a changed mood? That’s the impact music can have on us, and you can use this to your advantage!
Listening to podcasts while you work will inspire you and get those creative juices flowing too. Discover a few amazing podcasts for female entrepreneurs here.
8. Set up a space of inspiration
Your workspace should be inspiring, so create a space for yourself where you feel creative, energised, focused and positive. You will be surprised at what a big impact a space with positive energy can have on your own creativity and production levels. It is definitely worth investing in a beautiful office where you can work hard, be inspired, build your business and reach your dreams!
9. Surround yourself with the right tribe
The people you surround yourself with will have a massive impact on how successful you are, how creative and inspired you are, and how quickly you reach your goals. Choose the people you spend most of your time with wisely and be wary of energy leeches and people who only spread negativity. It might be worth joining a book club or a space like The Societe Socialites where you can be surrounded by like-minded individuals who you can bounce ideas off of and get the support you need from.
10. Reach out
Sometimes we only realise how far down the rabbit hole we are when it is too late. If you find yourself in a space where you are completely burnt out mentally, or suffering from depression, all of the above tips will help in some way, but what often helps the most is just to talk to someone. So reach out to a friend, mentor or family member and tell them what you are going through. Implement some of the above tips and set some time aside to rest and recover properly too.
Looking after yourself is not selfish – it should be a part of all of our daily activities and tasks. There is no shame in experiencing mental burnout or depression – the stigma around mental health is on its way out, so speak up and look after yourself – there are more people in the world who care than there are who don’t. You’ve got this!
Do you have any tips to share on how to prevent or deal with mental burnout or depression for entrepreneurs? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or let me know on social media!
Mariska is a creative entrepreneur, wellness blogger and writer, business owner, former magazine editor and aspiring motivational speaker, business and life coach.
Mariska runs a small global digital marketing agency (www.justmedia.co.za), as well as a women's wellness business (www.thrivewell.co.za) where she hopes to inspire women to live life well and give them the tools and information they need to thrive.
Mariska started her career in an admin position and worked at various organisations like record labels, publishers, global organisations and agencies to gain knowledge and experience in various fields, before leaving her 9-5 to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur.