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Prioritizing mental health to boost your business: advice from business owners

Photo by Emma Simpson

Balancing the demands of your business with your own mental health needs is no easy feat. Expectations are high, and giving into “grind culture” sometimes seems like the only option—which can put your personal wellbeing in the back seat. But it’s crucial to move away from that narrative. Instead, try to focus on all of the positive impacts you can have on your team, your business, and your bottom. This starts with making sure that you, your brain, and your mental health are taken care of and prioritized.

This topic is particularly important to me after my own experience with mental health struggles. In 2018, I had a manic episode that resulted in a hospitalization, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I spent the next three months in intensive treatment and therapy Monday through Friday, learning about my brain and the steps I could take to find and maintain balance. Diagnosis or not, we all have mental health to be aware of and concerned with. And as it relates to running your business—if you don’t take care of yourself, your business will suffer. 

Things like getting good quality sleep or communicating openly with your team and colleagues can help your business perform better in many ways. So in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to share some advice and perspective from other entrepreneurs going through the same juggling act of prioritizing themselves, their wellness, family, friends, team members, and business. 

Real estate company owner Brad Davis was pulled between end-of-life care for his mother and the demands of running a successful real estate business. With the help of colleagues and counterparts, his customers were taken care of while he stepped away to prioritize family.

“I want to do a better job of prioritizing my off time. Because when I’m refreshed, I’m going to show up that much better and in spades for my clients. To be able to bring my best self to the table, to be a great facilitator of a transaction, to be the top-notch relational broker that I know I can be, it really does require having some type of balance between my work and what have you.”

For many entrepreneurs who juggle a family, it can feel like you’re never doing enough for your business or at home because you’re being pulled in so many directions. Alyssa Bayer, founder of milk + honey spa, shares her secret to success: recognizing that you’re always going to feel like you could be doing more. 

There’s really not a lot of time where I can just unplug and feel like there’s nothing there for me, right? But having a team in place, I started delegating everything that I possibly could.

“And recognizing that, with my business, I should only be utilizing my resources on the things where I’m adding the highest value and really contributing. I trust my managers to respond to things appropriately. They’re really well-trained. They don’t do it correctly all the time ‘cause they’re also human—but just giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, really delegating everything that you can. And I do that at home as well. You know, we all have very limited time in the day, and [you have to make] sure that you’re spending your time on the most high value things.”

Taking time for your family or any other interests outside of work is important and valuable. Ultimately, it will make you a better performer. And it’s important to trust that. But it’s also really hard to do. For many of us, taking a day to reset or relax feels like we’re getting behind. It feels like we’re spending too much time inactive when we could be accomplishing something else. But we need to trust the value in that. We need to trust the benefit of refueling and recharging. Let’s hear what Viviana Langhoff, owner of Adornment + Theory, has to say about finding time and taking time herself.

Learning to just power down, shut down for one full day, and really trust that the world’s not going to fall apart. And if I’m ‘behind,’ I need to learn to let my body settle into that and trust so that I have more of myself to give when I come back.

For the entrepreneurs out there, remember that you and your health and wellness are important. Your business can’t be at its best if you’re not healthy, and it’s always a good idea to step away and get some rest and relaxation. For some parting wisdom, take this advice from Aaron Seriff-Cullick, owner of Paper Route Bakery.

“It’s so hard to be a business owner. You’re in it all alone. And even if you hear from other people, oh, I worked this hard. You really have no way of knowing if you’re doing the right thing. So if there’s anything I can do to let people know, [it’s] to lower the pressure on themselves and treat themselves with a little bit more compassion. That’s a message that everyone needs to hear.”

These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Emily and others, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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