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Mental Health and Entrepreneurship


By Kari Oakley

The initial stages of establishing a business require intensive planning and management of hundreds of details to ensure a successful launch. These actions can be both stimulating to your spirit and draining on your body and mind. If you are aware of both the positive and negative effects of starting a business, you will be able to weather the inevitable ups and downs that will inevitably occur.

Negative Effects of Starting Your Own Business

There can be times when the load of work can seem overwhelming, and if you are prone to anxiety or depression, you can risk missing the signs of slipping into a crippling state. Depression is very common in startups, and no one is immune. Be alert to subtle symptoms, such as inability to sleep, overindulging in alcohol, loss of appetite or overeating, intrusive negative thoughts, nervousness or frequent irritability. These symptoms can spiral into a full-blown bout of anxiety or depression if not properly managed.

Managing the Negative Effects of Entrepreneurship

Dealing with the negative effects of business stress should be a part of your overall planning. Make time to stay connected with family and friends, because these social connections can help to keep you grounded and emotionally supported. If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about your symptoms and possible changes in medication. If you haven’t been diagnosed, it might be time to talk to your primary care physician, who can refer you to a mental health professional for further treatment.

Positive Effects of Starting Your Own Business

Experienced entrepreneurs can confirm that starting your own business is pretty heady stuff. You immediately have the feeling of having freed yourself from being under the corporate thumb and feel you are finally in charge of your own destiny. This effect can make you feel more positive and confident about other areas of your life, as well. Starting a business will force you to educate yourself about a variety of relevant topics, such as pricing, marketing, accounting, desktop publishing software, shipping, management and other skills that you may not have engaged in previously, so you will enjoy increased curiosity and energy about these mental tasks.

Making the Most of the Positive Aspects of Entrepreneurship

Starting a business also allows you to use a great deal more of your own creativity, finding solutions to problems, planning your entry into the marketplace and keeping an eye on competition. These aspects can be highly stimulating for your mental processes and can provide intense motivation on a daily basis. It’s important for entrepreneurs to learn to pace their efforts properly. Prioritizing daily tasks, and getting appropriate help when needed, can help you to provide your best efforts for these activities.

Managing Stress Is Critical for Entrepreneurs

Managing the details of finding an appropriate location, securing inventory, hiring staff, expanding into markets and keeping a close eye on costs can stretch your emotional reserves to their limit. Entrepreneurs should take the time, every day, to engage in activities that help to relieve stress and improve their physical and mental health. Choose an activity you enjoy, rather than one you “think you should" do. Stay involved in team sports, if it helps your emotional well being. Plan an early morning workout at the gym. Join a yoga class. Or participate in a meditation group. Many people find relief in engaging in an absorbing hobby. Any activity that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of your daily schedule can help you to relieve everyday stress.


Although starting a new business can bring highs and lows that can strain your emotional and psychological balance, it can also provide a broad new canvas on which to exercise your abilities and talents. If you learn to anticipate the stresses involved in constructing your new enterprise, and build in methods for letting off steam when the pressure gets too much, you will be able to survive and prosper.

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