Two years ago, the world was gripped by a shock from the sudden passing of luxury handbag designer Kate Spade. Police ruled her death as suicide by hanging, shocking everyone once more, because who would’ve thought a woman who has everything will feel depressed?
But sadly, depression and high stress levels are part of the realities of many successful business owners. Kate Spade’s sister herself stated that the suicide was “not unexpected” by her, knowing that the handbag designer had been suffering from depression for a while already. Spade apparently refused treatment despite her sister’s persistent persuasion, because she thought that any in-patient treatment would harm her brand.
Like Kate Spade, countless more entrepreneurs, a.k.a. startup founders, are also wrestling with depression. The condition is so rampant that it has earned its own term: “Founder Depression.” And many entrepreneurs aren’t even aware that they’ve got it.
It would usually start with immense pressure and excessive stress levels. So if you’re beginning to feel burnt out from all the work in your company, here is a guide for you to manage your mental health.
The Most Stressful Things in Managing a Business
The first step in managing your stress is awareness. By recognizing your triggers, you’d be able to control your responses better, and cope more healthily.
Here are some of the most stressful things in managing a business that you may relate with, as shared by five executives:
“Being Petty and Territorial”
Jeannie Ralston, co-founder and editor of NextTribe, admitted that it stresses her out the most when she expects everyone to work as a team to advance the business. She understands that it’s because of the natural human instinct to protect what theirs, but it makes her appear territorial and petty. She’s working on it by being careful in giving credit and thanks.
“Trying to Please Everyone”
Kenneth Baboun, the managing partner of BGI Capital, struggles with being expected to know all the answers. He finds himself constantly balancing and managing expectations to the best of his ability. But even so, it’s impossible to please everyone, because business is always growing, and the demands changing.
Ric Kostick, founder and CEO of 100 Percent Pure, has a calender jam-packed with requests from people asking for his time, which he doesn’t have a lot of. He admits not yet having mastered avoiding stress when he’s fully-booked for meetings but is continuing to train himself in handling stressful situations.
“Lack of Integrity”
Janie Hoffman, founder and CEO of Mamma Chia, says that faking positivity can instill distrust. To avoid the stress and pressures of maintaining positive energy, Hoffman aligns her soul throughout the day and consciously rests in her true nature. She discovered that it is more effective than waiting for the end of the day to relieve some stress.
Dave Crisalli, founder and CEO of My Prose, is also struggling with achieving work-life balance, like a typical employee. He works on it by walking for fifteen minutes, doing breathing exercises, clearing out his thoughts, and organizing his mind before going home.
Ways to Manage Your Stress
From these five executives, we can learn that a healthy mind is essential in leading a team and a business. If your stress is at its peak, your team will also absorb it, whereas if you radiate positivity, your team will feel stable and more motivated to work.
But stress and business simply co-exist. According to a 2011 survey, 65% of business owners are almost always on-the-go, and only half have enough time for their family and friends.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should settle for poor time management skills and coping mechanisms. Stress isn’t regulated by another source of stress. Therefore, listen to the advice of experienced psychologists, and do yourself and your business a favor by de-stressing.
Start by hiring the right people, so that you’d create a team that’s empowered even without you. They must know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that they’d focus on the tasks most suitable for them. Learning to trust your team is important as well because heroic single leaders are no longer effective in today’s burdening demands of leadership, according to J. Richard Hackman, professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University.
The state of your mental health creates a butterfly effect. You may not be aware of it, but your stress affects your environment, especially one that is led by you. If you constantly show up with compromised mental health, you’d also poorly manage your team’s stress, which would cause more sick days and lower productivity.
Therefore, don’t wait for your breaking point before getting help. Don’t hesitate to rest and recharge. When you lead with a clear head and positive outlook, your team will feel more secure and confident, and they’d happily help you achieve your business’s goals.