How we work is changing, along with traditional employment opportunities, working freelance within the gig economy or as part of a startup are becoming equally appealing. As the workplace changes, so too does its impact on our health.
According to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, entrepreneurs are fifty percent more likely to report having a mental health condition. Although the reasoning is still unclear, the research clearly shows a need for improving protective resources for entrepreneurs. Stepping outside of product, sales, and marketing for a moment, these resources can help you maintain your mental health while striving to make the world a better place.
Whether you find yourself in a startup, working independently, or as part of a larger corporation - challenges such as sleep, rejection, imposter syndrome, and isolation are common for many of us.
Nothing else on this list matters if you're not getting proper rest. "Sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking, and emotional regulation." – Harvard Health Schedule time to sleep. Your wellbeing, and the success of your work isn't going to be sustainable if you regularly have impaired thinking and emotional regulation due to a lack of consistent, appropriate amounts of sleep.
Things that can help: (Ref: Harvard Health)
Whether selling or pitching, rejection happens. Studies suggest, "that being turned down by others activates the same regions in our brains—the dorsal anterior cingulate and the anterior insula—that are associated with experiencing physical pain." Not just cognitive, rejection can physically take a toll on us.
Things that can help: (Ref: Psychology Today)
At some point in your professional career, you will likely feel an imbalance between your knowledge and skill and the position you hold. First studied by psychologist Pauline Rose Clance in 1978, encountering a feeling that you don't truly deserve your accomplishments is quite common.
Things that can help: (ref: Mayo Clinic)
Things that can help: (Ref: EU Startups)
Interdependence is part of what makes us human (that's coming from an introvert). When we isolate, we may find ourselves struggling with negative self-talk, rumination, and rampant feelings of inadequacy; indeed, we're often our own worst enemy.
Things that can help: (Ref: Mind)
No matter what you do, it would help if you were well to do well. Outdated beliefs that employees should “leave it at the door” in terms of their health and social challenges have no place in the modern workplace. Change is happening. Every day employers are stepping up to keep their employees well through solutions such as League and Modern Health. But programs are only one piece to the puzzle, you and I have a role as well. To live a happier, healthier life - each of us can employ small habits to care for our mental health.
Get outside and breathe in some fresh air every day. Check-in with yourself, start a journal to reflect on your mood and emotions and how daily events affect how you feel. (Speakbox can help) Connect with colleagues and friends - find time to put aside “work talk” and take time to know those around you socially.
You have big ambitions, opening up about your health needs and pursuing habits to care for your mind, body, and social health sets you up to achieve them. You got this, and you are not alone, we are all in this together.
Aidan Scott is co-founder and CEO of Speakbox, a therapeutic support platform helping clients and therapists work better together.