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Entrepreneurs can strengthen their well-being with their daily routines

Building ‘jolts of joy’ into your routine can help keep you well

As the leader of your company, you’ve learned how to put a business plan in place to meet any challenges. Another plan to consider for your business is one to look after your mental health.

Louisa Jewell, an expert in positive psychology, says entrepreneurs need to know how to deal with high levels of daily, on-the-job stress.

Jewell says that finding daily “jolts of joy” in your routine can bring positive emotions and safeguard your well-being.

“When you can get yourself into more of a positive place, you can handle whatever comes at you,” says Jewell, founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association in Toronto.

It’s not once every eight months in Bermuda. It’s a daily thing.”

Build your well-being around six pillars:

Jewell says entrepreneurs can take steps every day to feel mentally well. “Being void of mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re flourishing. Optimal mental health is when you feel you are truly flourishing.”

1. Be positive

Even with extraordinarily busy schedules and big decisions, Jewell says entrepreneurs can learn to have “jolts of joy.”

“It’s about knowing how to get yourself out of a bad mood and managing your mood,” Jewell says.

Jewell wrote a book called The Rumination Cure: 7 Ways to Get Rid of Those Repetitive Negative Voices in Your Head.

She says the first step to increasing positive moods is to become aware of your emotions throughout the day. Do something that makes you feel good. That can be hugging your children, calling a close friend, eating healthy food or working on something you love. Once you are aware of this, you will find ways to bring more positive moments into your day to change negative moods.

“It’s about knowing how to get yourself out of a bad mood and managing your mood,” says Louise Jewell, founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association in Toronto.

2. Practice mindfulness

Be fully present in the moment you’re in. That means not ruminating about the past or being worried about the future. She suggests identifying your strengths and designing your day and your work around them. Jewell is also the author of Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt.

3. Have supportive relationships

Relationships are the most important pillar when it comes to mental health, says Jewell, whether they are with a romantic partner, family members, fellow entrepreneurs or friends. Loneliness can take a toll and it’s critical to be socially connected.

“One of the greatest resilience strategies we have is to call a friend to seek social support,” she says. For entrepreneurs, that can be as simple as co-sharing an office space to avoid isolation.

4. Know your purpose

Know why you are doing what you’re doing. Entrepreneurs often start their businesses aligned with their passions or activities they find meaningful in their personal lives. This can be both motivating and energizing, Jewell says.

5. Have a sense of accomplishment

People love to be successful and they love to learn and grow, Jewell says. This brings people to higher levels of well-being, she adds.

“It helps us feel confident, which is very important for entrepreneurs. The intersection between success and well-being puts the brain into a state of high energy. It helps keep yourself in the zone.”

For example, you could write down a daily accomplishment, such as receiving a positive comment from a client or negotiating a preferential rate with a supplier.

6. Get physical

The mind and body are intertwined, and it’s no surprise that if you’re not eating well, sleeping, or exercising, your psychological wellness is going to suffer, she says. The irony is that when entrepreneurs feel so busy that they don’t even have time to think, things like working out, eating healthy food, and resting tend to take a back seat.

“You can’t be resilient if you’re exhausted,” Jewell says. “It’s hard to be on your game when you’re completely physically depleted.”

To stay physically healthy—and in turn mentally healthy—Jewell suggests creating a plan to use when something throws you off. It could be getting out for a walk in nature, going to a yoga class or doing an activity with a friend.

Entrepreneurs face unique pressures when running a business

To better understand these pressures, BDC supported the Canadian Mental Health Association to survey almost 500 small and medium-sized business owners. The 2019 survey found that entrepreneurs’ mental health concerns need more attention.

In fact, 62 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs felt depressed at least once a week, according to the study, Going it Alone: The mental health and well-being of entrepreneurs in Canada.

The study also found that 46% of business owners said that mental health issues interfere with their ability to work, yet fewer than one in five was likely to seek professional help.

Learning to deal with adverse events is part of your business strategy

While planning for growth is essential, entrepreneurs shouldn’t forget about their daily well-being. It’s not about everything being perfect, though. It’s about learning how to manage your mood when you have an adverse event.

“[You] don’t have to be positive or joyful every second of the day,” Jewell notes. “Optimal mental health allows you to show up in the world the way you want to show up. That’s flourishing.”

This article was prepared by BDC in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association.