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Entrepreneurship and mental health: solving the lows to enhance the highs

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by Startacus Admin

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Aimee Louise Carton, the co-founder of mental wellbeing app KeepAppy shares her insight into entrepreneurship and mental health.

Would you start a career with the knowledge that 99% of your peers had failed?

Or that you would be twice as likely to die by suicide than the average person, twice as likely to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital and three times more likely to develop an abusive relationship with a substance?

With the odds stacked against us, it's curious to wonder why anyone would ever enter the startup world.

The reason why we do it? Simply, because we believe we are the exceptions to the rule, that our companies or idea’s can overcome those devastating odds. The reality is mental health and entrepreneurship that we have to believe in our own exceptionalism because we have to be our own champions and cheerleaders. No one else will, so we have to be the ones to fight against the opposition, the nay-sayers

So what are the challenges entrepreneurs typically face? The most common issues are stress, isolation and burnout. As an entrepreneur, everything rests on your shoulders - every failed pitch, every lost contract, every employee that lets you down. The isolation of being the only one held accountable and the one to be responsible for everything can be exhausting. You also have to fulfill multiple roles each day, from finance to sales and on to being the face of a company. The constant, never ending changing on the good day’s can be fun. On the bad days, this inconsistency can lead to a lack of dependability, which enhances any already established feelings of burnout.

One of the most devastating elements of entrepreneurship is the fact that you can’t let anyone know just how stressed, burnt out or scared you might be. Whether it's to loved ones, employees, investors or customers, maintaining a face of cool confidence and pride in your successful company can often lead entrepreneurs to feel the aching claws of imposter syndrome.

There is so much going against us. And yet, we love it.

Aimee press picWaking up every day to do something you love, to feel as if you’re changing the world just a little bit, placing your flag onto untouched lands like the first explorers. There are no words for the day you first see your product, something you created out of nothing, being used by someone else. The lows may be low, but the highs . . . Well, the highs make it all so worth it.

However, that doesn’t take away or lessen the challenges. If an athlete damages a muscle, they don’t stop training - they just start training more mindfully and engage in preventative measures to strengthen or relax the problem area. We are the high performance athletes of the business worlds, and our minds are our greatest asset. So if we’re not taking care of them, how can we expect to perform at our best? So instead of being told to stop doing what you love, why not just work but work smarter and more effectively, taking care of our assets and in turn, improving our performance.

What are the preventative measures an entrepreneur can engage in to protect their minds? Typically this can be broken into 3 key areas: maintenance, active reflection, mood boosting, escape.

Maintenance:

Tracking your mood and all the key components that affect your mood every day is integral to identifying your triggers, things that worsen your mood, performance and productivity. Whether its your hydration levels, consumption of healthy food or exercise routine - figuring out what can help you be your best self is something we should all aspire towards.

Active reflection:

In this Netflixised world, people’s first reaction to a more stressful time is avoidance, either by listening to a podcast or watching a sitcom. Our world is constantly filled with noise and instant clickbait that enables our avoidance with near constant distraction, meaning that we never seem to reflect and process our emotions. Instead, try to process your feelings out loud to a loved one or helpline, or write down all of your thoughts with pen and paper or in the Notes app on your phone. Get the chaos out of your mind and you’ll feel the better for it.

Mood boosting:

keepappy logoWe all go through those days where everything seems to go against you. Low mood effects 100% of the population, yet the majority of the population (74% according to our research) struggle to know how to tackle their low mood. Exercise is often identified as a key resource to boost low mood, but it might not be a solution available to you if it's the middle of the morning and you have a full day of work ahead of you. Instead of letting the low mood fester, simply write down a to do list. Writing down and achieving manageable goals will often lead to the sense of accomplishment that helps overcome low mood. Alternatively, remembering the good in your life with a gratitude diary, as it reorientates your thoughts away from the negativity of your day towards one of positive memory.

The world we have chosen to work in is chaotic, but it’s time to stop allowing it to dictate our wellbeing. We can own our mental health and take control of how we allow the chaos to affect our performance and personal lives. It just needs to start with the acceptance that while we may be exceptional, we are not exceptions to the rule and therefore must do something about our wellbeing.

Aimee Louise Carton is the co-founder of mental wellbeing app KeepAppy.

 25 year old entrepreneur Aimee Louise developed the idea for a mental wellness gym after finding herself on the brink of suicide and having no one to turn to. As a sufferer of borderline personality and post-traumatic stress disorder, Aimee decided to establish KeepAppy.





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Published on: 20th February 2020

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