Mental health and wellness: A check in for entrepreneurs
By ATB Financial 2 June 2020 4 min read
Times are stressful, but as an entrepreneur you’re used to stress. Whether it’s a sudden rent increase, an unexpected repair or an inventory snafu, as a small business owner, you’ve had your share of sleepless nights trying to come up with solutions.
You know taking time to unwind and regroup is important. But taking the time to “centre” seems like a luxury when the world is in a state of crisis. But taking personal inventory to explore your well-being and mental health isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, in an incredibly challenging business landscape, it’s quite the opposite.
“When you don’t have mental wellness, it’s hard to have financial wellness and vice versa,” says Kerilee Snatenchuk, Director, People and Culture at ATB. “When you are under financial stress, which many entrepreneurs are, then you will have a hard time feeling mentally healthy. So getting your finances in order, using the kinds of programs that ATB offers, that the federal and provincial governments offer, can often lead to a much better mental health outcome.”
As a business owner, you shoulder a massive amount of responsibility at the best of times, for your business, family and staff. You’re often the sole leader, responsible for the enterprise’s survival, success and sustainability. In many cases, your business is your life and your life is your business—which often means both your financial and emotional well-being are inexorably connected.
Mental health support resources
Unlike many people who work under an employer, entrepreneurs often don’t have access to mental health resources and benefits.
Here’s a list of resources we thought might be helpful in supporting your mental health and personal well-being through these difficult times and in the future:
- Well-being resources for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Canadian Mental Health Association: The mental health and well-being of Canada’s entrepreneurs
- Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Support
- Mental Health Commission of Canada: Crisis Response Virtual Training
Setting the wellness level
Know that you’re not alone. A major study conducted in 2019 by the Canadian Mental Health Association noted three in five entrepreneurs felt depressed at least once a week and that more than half felt stress affected their concentration.
Part of the challenge can lie in recognizing your mental health and wellness red flags before your emotional state takes a turn for the worse. Consider a quick daily self check-in as a valuable risk management strategy in supporting your personal wellness and bringing back some balance.
One-minute wellness scan
At some point during the day, check to see where your internal compass is pointed. What’s critical is to take a few moments to look inward and assess what you may be feeling emotionally and in your body, but refraining from doing any self-diagnosis, as diagnoses should only be made by medical professionals.
Stress levels are like finances—the better you manage them, the more resilient you can be. Think of a street light as an easy reference to assess your state of mind and re-adjust if need be.
What colour are you in terms of your mental health?
Are you green(good to go) yellow (proceed with caution), orange (slow right down ) or red (stop and evaluate)? See if and how you can recalibrate back towards green.
“Colours like green, yellow, orange and red have less of a stigma than words like anxious or overwhelmed,” says Snatenchuk. “If you just say ‘I’m in the red,’ that’s good enough. And what can you do to get yourself back into the green zone? It leads you to your own inner dialogue about what are some of the things you can do.”
What is my body telling me?
Breathe in deeply a couple of times and do a body scan. Is your stress manifesting physically? If so, where? Are your shoulders hunched, your eye twitching, or does your stomach hurt? Are there steps or exercises you can integrate into your daily routine to soothe those physical pain points? Like a business plan, once you’ve identified the challenge, you can come up with a solution.
Moving forward from a healthier place
Recognize, pinpoint, release. You’ve consciously taken a mental health moment. way to go!
When three out of five entrepreneurs say they feel depressed, doing a quick self-check—and adjustment, if needed—puts you in a place where you can make the changes necessary to achieve better mental health and a sense of personal well-being. You can’t control a pandemic. But there are things you can act on, like making physical health changes, growing your network or accessing government relief.
Entrepreneurs have the right mindset to see opportunities when others might not. You already have. In fact, you’re a risk-taker bent on success. As you continue on in your entrepreneurial journey, feel free to access some of our resources, practical tools and trusted advice.
Also, if you’re in need of professional mental health advice or guidance, please do reach out to any of the above resources, or resources of your own. Above all, remember you’re resilient—you had to be to get here in the first place.