Starting and running your own business is hard enough, but additional stressors can negatively impact your mental health when you're part of a minority group. You might be struggling and fail to realize these stressors' impact on your overall well-being. While you might be tempted to develop "hard skin" and ignore the challenges, that's not a healthy or sustainable solution.
The best thing you can do is be proactive in protecting your mental health. Let's look at some of the best ways of doing so.
1. Acknowledge and accept that there will be challenges.
One of the most important things you can do for your mental health is acknowledging and accept that there will be challenges. As a minority entrepreneur, you may face discrimination, lack of access to resources or mentors, and other challenges that can affect your mental health.
One of the things that can help is to connect with other minority entrepreneurs who understand the challenges you face. Sometimes, simply knowing you are not the only one struggling can help. Many online and offline communities of minority entrepreneurs can provide support, advice, and resources.
You can try searching online for "minority entrepreneur groups" or "networks for minority entrepreneurs." You can also reach out to your colleagues and ask if they have any recommendations.
2. Set boundaries.
You can get lost working 24/7 without taking a break when running your own business. This can quickly lead to burnout. Decide to create boundaries to offset any burnout. This may mean setting regular hours, taking breaks during the day, or taking vacation days. It's also important to disconnect from work when you're not working—for instance, not checking email after hours or on weekends.
Make sure to schedule time for yourself and your loved ones, even if it's just a few hours a week. This will help you recharge and avoid burnout. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and think there isn't room for a break. If this is you, you might want to consider delegating work. This way, you can take the break you need without the guilt.
3. Find a support system.
A support system can come in many forms. It could include family, friends, colleagues, and even online communities. When you have people, you can rely on, managing challenges as a minority entrepreneur feels feasible with support. Talking about how you're feeling can help you develop a plan to address your symptoms. It can also help you feel less alone.
Research shows that a sound support system can improve mental health outcomes. If you don't have a support system, there are many ways to find one. You can search online for "support groups for entrepreneurs" or "mentorship programs for entrepreneurs." You can also ask your colleagues, family, and friends if they know of any programs or groups that might be a good fit for you or they've personally used.
4. Make self-care a priority.
Self-care is anything you do to care for yourself physically and mentally. When you're a minority entrepreneur, self-care is essential. Taking care of yourself can help you manage the challenges you face. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care. Some people find that exercise, meditation, or journaling helps them relax and recharge. Others find that spending time with friends or taking a weekend getaway is more their style.
Find what works for you and make self-care a priority. Dedicate time each day, week, or month to do something that makes you feel good. When you prioritize self-care, you'll notice an improvement in your mental health.
5. Seek professional help when needed.
There's a stigma around seeking professional help. But the reality is, there's nothing wrong with seeking professional help when you need it. As a minority entrepreneur, you may face unique challenges impacting your mental health. If you are struggling, don't be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your mental health.
While looking for professionals, you might want to check mental health resources and professionals that specially cater to minority individuals. Working with professionals will help you cope with stress and teach you to develop healthy coping mechanisms and learn more about your triggers.
6. Find sources of meaning outside of work.
As an entrepreneur, it is easy to fall into the trap of making work the only source of happiness and meaning in life. However, this can be detrimental to your mental health. Finding sources of meaning and joy outside of work, such as hobbies, time with family and friends, and volunteering, is vital.
Try asking yourself the following questions:
What are my values?
What makes me happy?
What brings meaning into my life?
Answering these questions can help you identify activities and pursuits outside of work that are important to you—giving you a balanced lifestyle.
7. Be compassionate with yourself.
Starting and running a business is hard work. Be compassionate with yourself and understand that you will make mistakes. Consider if you had friends in similar situations and envision how you would support and talk to them.
Research shows that self-compassion plays a massive role in long-term mental well-being. Remind yourself that being hard on yourself is not how to get things done. When you're hard on yourself, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism, negatively impacting your mental health.
Another critical point is that women often lack confidence even when they're more competent than men. So, it's essential to catch yourself when you start doubting your abilities. Give yourself a pep talk or talk to someone for further support.
Your mental health is the foundation of your well-being and will heavily impact every personal and business decision. As a minority entrepreneur, you may face unique challenges that impact your mental health. But there are things you can do to manage those challenges. Prioritize self-care, seek professional help, find sources of meaning outside of work, and be compassionate with yourself. Taking care of yourself will put you in a better position to manage the challenges you face while building your business.