As a first-time entrepreneur and a new business owner, self-care can be challenging. There is always so much to do and never enough time. Recently, a fellow entrepreneur said to me, “You’ve got to be crazy to think you’re going to have evenings and weekends off, especially in your first five years”. 

Here’s the reality. Entrepreneurs are at high risk of experiencing stress, burnout, and potentially, mental health conditions. A recent study supported by UC Berkeley’s Institutional Review Board found that 72% of entrepreneurs in their study were affected by mental health with 32% reporting having two or more mental health conditions. Entrepreneurs are more likely to experience depression, ADHD, addiction, and bipolar. This is the “dark side of entrepreneurship” that few people talk about. And we only have to look at entrepreneurs like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade to know this is real.

Self-care is one of the major ways in which we can address the stress and anxiety that comes with being an entrepreneur. Here are five strategies Ito manage your own self-care and wellness:

1. Build a strong team to support you. 

Be courageous enough to add a coach or a mental health professional to it. Meet with them regularly. Identify friends, family members, and mentors who can support you along the way. You’re going to have ups and downs in your business. These individuals will lift you up when you need it most, point out your blind spots, and bring you back down to reality when you’re flying too high. If therapists in your area don’t accept health insurance, try looking into resources like the Open Path Collective.

2. Remember that passion does not equal working 24/7. 

It’s tempting to want to work all the time when we are passionate about what we’re producing! After all, your business should be something you’re passionate about. Remember that you’re in it for the long haul and managing your energy is going to help you sustain yourself.

3. Set boundaries. 

As entrepreneurs and new business owners, we are our own brand, and this is especially true if we’re working alone. Our friends and family members may be excited to help us market our new product or service but that might also mean they’re contacting us on our personal e-mail or cell phone. That can be a challenge when we’re trying to turn off for the day. Keep your personal and professional communications separate – including social media. Stick to a set work schedule and be ready to leave your work at the end of the day (even if you’re working from home).

4. It’s okay to fail. 

As an Asian American woman, the drive and expectation for me to succeed is high. It’s something I’ve internalized. Remember that it’s okay to fail. In fact, expect and plan for failure. It’s not about the failure so much as what you learn from it. Nothing is worth losing your life over. And remember, “this, too, shall pass”.

5. Your financial self-care matters. 

Don’t quit your job when you’re starting out. If you need to go full-time into your business, save up several months of reserves first. Most of us won’t have venture funding and some of us don’t want/need investors for our business. Know that it’s going to take a while for you to generate enough income to live on so plan accordingly.

If you don’t have a self-care plan in place, set some time aside to create one. Your health and well-being is worth it!

Originally published on Ellevate

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