Just this morning, I had the meaning of hump day explained to me, and my understanding of it now is that it is the hardest day of the week to surpass, or it is seemingly the most daunting day of the week. That got the cogs turning and I began to think about how our mind-set can affect us so strongly, and how this week of all weeks seemed like the best time to write about it!
In July 2015 Daniel Hardman, co-founder of Launch22 began the discussion on entrepreneurship and mental health, or rather, was given the means to explore the idea and tell his story through an article published in The Guardian. The things I took away from this article were essentially that being an entrepreneur is hard work, like serious hard work.
Think about it… If you are a founder or a co-founder, or even a freelancer, you have nothing but yourself motivating you; and some days the simplest things can seem like an arduous task, starting from getting yourself out of bed, to getting yourself to actually do some work.
This week it is Mental Health Week and at Launch22 we wanted to do our part to make sure that the conversation regarding mental health was not only happening, but that it is involving entrepreneurs, freelancers, and anyone who has decided to delve into a different path to the standard 9 to 5.
Startup Grind, in 2015 conducted research with regards to creativity, entrepreneurship and what role mental health played. The results were quite shocking. With 49% of entrepreneurs coming up as having at least one mental illness or being symptomatic of it, and one third being symptomatic of two or more mental illnesses, or being strongly affected by them. Comparatively, in America only 32% of entrepreneurs were symptomatic of a singular mental illness. The cases observed were pertaining to ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, addiction, depression, or anxiety. The graph below is taken from the report issued, and personally the fact that this has only become relevant in the past couple of years is astonishing to me.
In fact, much to no one’s surprise really, Psychologists have agreed on the notion that creative people are more predisposed for being affected by mental illness, and more often than not the people who go on to be entrepreneurs tend to be creative. Therefore, the correlation is there, we can observe it, but for some reason, we still tentatively speak about it…
This year’s Mental Health Week agenda is that of creating “a less stressful workplace”, and at Launch22 we’ve hacked the balance between getting work done and having the opportunity to relax and unwind with fellow members of the coworking space, where you can just unplug and detach yourself from whatever is troubling you, even if just for 10 minutes.
Interning in a coworking space, on a daily basis I see freelancers and entrepreneurs bringing themselves in with the full intention of having a productive day, working and accomplishing their goals. However, many a time I see how a phone call, a skype call, an interview, or some feedback absolutely demolishes any sense of satisfaction or accomplishment which was present at the beginning of the day. Conversely, the opposite can happen, they can be elated and be on a high for the remainder of the day, great right? Wrong.
This behaviour exactly is what should set off alarm bells; Professor Michael A. Freeman identifies this as a primary issue in entrepreneurship and mental health, but why is that? Surely the two things would balance out! According to studies conducted at the University of California, this oscillation between highs and lows can damage if not cause significant detriment to a person’s mental health, particularly in the case of an entrepreneur or a freelancer who constantly puts themselves out there and opens themselves up to any and all feedback or criticism.
So what did I do? I went around the space, and started asking questions. I asked our members what being an entrepreneur was like, if their experiences mirrored the research conducted by startup grind, and if they could give some tips and tricks on how to manage stress before it takes a serious toll on your mental health.
Essentially what I’m trying to say is (brace yourself it’s going to sound cliché), that you’re not the only person going through this. You’re not the only one who has hit a brick wall; and if anyone says they haven’t then you can safely assume one of two things: 1) they’re lying or 2) soon enough it’ll happen to them as well, or (yes, I’m throwing in a third option)- 3) they are playing it safe and not putting themselves out there or testing themselves.
So, if you take away anything from this blog, make it the fact that talking about things, no matter how scary that may be, is the best thing you can do. Once you start talking to a friend or a co-worker or someone from a helpline, the problems will start to seem more manageable and you won’t feel like you’re dealing with 1001 things on your own. As the saying goes… a problem shared is a problem halved.
Stress hacks devised by our members:
- Break up your day, never spend an entire day working from home
- Develop a practice or “ritual” that you do when you feel your stress
- If you play an instrument, use it as a tool to relax and unwind
- Play a videogame, watch some tv, de-stress, allow for your mind to take a break
- Journal/log how you are feeling and keep track of what it’s telling you in terms of your mental health
- Find a co-working space which suits you and motivates you to show up and work towards something day in and day out
If things are taking a turn for the worst, how can you take the situation into your own hands?
- The Samaritans hotline- 116 123 or visit their website: https://www.samaritans.org
- Headspace- https://www.headspace.com
- Apps, perhaps? Here is a list of the best apps available today collated by refinery29 https://www.refinery29.uk/mental-health-apps#slide-3