Managing Anxiety As An Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship can be really damn hard.
And when you add anxiety into the mix, sometimes it feels like you just can’t get ahead.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve struggled with anxiety disorder almost all of my life. It really started to show itself when I was young and my mom was sick with cancer and my sister was sick with a life-threatening disease at the same time. Since then, I’ve been on so many different anxiety medicines, and trying to find ways to naturally help my anxiety attacks that would seem to show up more often than not.
Sometimes I find that entrepreneurship amplifies my anxiety on small things- just because there are so many things that are going on in the day-to-day that sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up, or that I am not doing enough, which triggers a lot of things for me emotionally.
But, I’ve gotten way better at managing the anxiety that I find is work-related, and recognizing it when it shows up, and there are a few tips that I want to share on some things you can do to (hopefully) help manage anxiety and stress that comes from entrepreneurship.
(Before diving into this- I want to preface that I am SO unbelievably blessed with my life and business and I know that. This isn’t a “woe is me” post, rather just me showing up and being as authentic and vulnerable as I need to to let other people who are struggling with the same thing know they’re not alone. I am so thankful for my business and I wouldn't trade being an entrepreneur for anything in the world.)
Here are 10 ways to help manage work-related anxiety and stress as an entrepreneur:
I had to start with and include this because therapy has helped me TREMENDOUSLY over the years with my anxiety and I think that having that safe space where you feel understood and where you’re being given a proper diagnosis with proper steps moving forward is invaluable. None of my other advice is a substitute for therapy- rather things you can do alongside therapy to help.
2.Diet and exercise.
The first year of entrepreneurship I basically completely neglected these two things. I was so obsessed with being busy that I wouldn’t even want to take time to go to the grocery store throughout the day. This led to a lot of eating out, and most days I was skipping exercise because I wanted to keep working instead.
Now, I have 100% prioritized these two things and have found a significant improvement in my overall well-being when I workout and eat better. I feel better overall, I can relieve any stress/ anxiety through working out in the gym, and I just overall feel like I have the other areas of my life together and don’t feel like I am dropping the ball.
A few tips I have on keeping up with these things (because it wasn’t easy for me at the beginning)
Schedule working out into your days. I’ve found that if it’s not on my calendar, I’ll book myself up for something else and won’t end up doing it. I literally schedule two hours into my days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday just to focus on working out.
Order groceries online. I use Instacart every week and have my groceries delivered to me. It’s so easy because I can pull up the recipes I want to make on one tab on Pinterest, then shop for the ingredients online and within 15 minutes I am done and they’re delivered straight to my door. It’s a great way to out-source something that isn’t directly in your business.
Find easy meals to make. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you have healthy meals at your disposal. I find 3 crockpot recipes that are healthy that I want to make each week on Pinterest, then eat that one day, leftovers the next. It works out perfectly and saves me so much money from eating out.
3.Set clear boundaries with clients.
Alright y’all this one was HARD for me. Everyone who works with me and knows me knows my entire business model is based off of my clients’ experience. I love my clients and it is SO important to me that they absolutely love working with me, but after a year or so of going above-and-beyond, I realized I needed to set some clear boundaries.
This included adding into my contract what I do, what I don’t do, the amount of revisions I offer for free, and the hours I work.
I found that setting these boundaries allowed me to truly give a better, more elevated experience where we both felt like we knew the boundaries right off the bat. It was so incredibly helpful for me and them to know how to contact me, and when. (ie: I specifically ask not to be texted, because I hardly ever check my texts and would end up forgetting to reply- so now, knowing that I can be contacted via email or Voxer helps them know how to contact me, and that I will answer during my working hours!)
Being less available means that you can serve your clients even better and that they will love you even more! And it also means that you will show up on Monday’s ready to work and knowing exactly what to do to communicate properly.
4. Network + meet-up with others who understand.
The beautiful thing about our struggles as an entrepreneur is that they aren’t just our struggles- every other entrepreneur has struggled with some of these things at one point and sometimes just chatting with a friend who gets it can be the best source of anxiety-relief because you realize you are NOT alone. I find this in having virtual coffee with another entrepreneur weekly, weekly meetings with my business coach, and meetings with two other web designers every other week where we really dive into the struggles we are facing and how we handle them. Look to your peers, you can help each other more than you know by being honest and showing up!
5. Get enough sleep.
This is a non-negotiable guys! Do not neglect your health and add on more stress by being tired. Seriously. I realized when I sacraficed sleep that things became 10x harder. My mom or boyfriend would literally say to me “go rest, then this will be so much easier” -- it is so true!
6. Give yourself days off.
I never work the weekends. Ever. I don’t check my email, I don’t check apps, I try not to think about work. Even though it’s my own business, it’s still work, and I don’t want to be connected 24/7 because I will feel like whatever is in my inbox needs to be done immediately. I spend my weekends recharging with my family, friends, and nurturing my relationships. It helps me show up ready to go on Monday’s. It is the best thing I ever did for my business.
This can look different for everyone, but I find writing gratitude in a journal every morning/ every evening helps raise my frequency and makes me shift into a place of abudance and gratitue daily so I feel good and safe with what I am doing. Sometimes even a giant brain dump helps me clear my thoughts so I can hear my own voice and move forward. One of my favorite journals is the Five Minute Journal- I wrote about why I loved it here. I also set a daily intention in my journal everyday along with a reminder/ mantra.
Some of my favorite reminders are:
I can do hard things. I can have it all. I am the creator of my life.
8. Stop comparing yourself.
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else's middle! It is SO easy to hop online and see everyone’s highlight reel and automatically feel like what we are doing is inadequate or not enough. Don’t even allow yourself to go there. And if you do start to get into that spiral of thinking, stop yourself and realize we have no idea what their day-to-day looks like, or if they have a team, or their own struggles, or anything like that. We are all marching towards success at our own pace.
9. Get out of the house.
Working from home can get lonely and whether we realize it or not, it's easy to start to feel cabin fever during the week. I make sure that I go out at least one night a week for dinner or coffee or even just a long walk where I can see other people and realize that I am not stuck being in the house all day. This has helped me tremendously with giving me things to look forward to and not feeling like I am couped up in the house all day everyday.
10. Talk about it, if you want to.
Something that helps me manage my anxiety and stress is just talking about it. Like writing this blog post, or being open in my instagram stories. I am all about normalizing the anxiety and stressors we have and making sure others’ see that life and entrepreneurship can be hard in other ways. Talking to my business coach, my boyfriend, my mother, everyone in my life about the things going on helps me realize it’s okay to have these feelings and that it will get better.
Hopefully next time you start to feel anxious, you can take a breath and realize that it is normal, and it’s okay. That you are incredible and exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you should be doing.