Now that burnout is an official medical condition, entrepreneurs need to start taking their mental health more seriously.
To be an entrepreneur and build a successful business, you have to be extremely devoted. In the early stages of a business, entrepreneurs often hold several positions at once like salesperson, negotiator, money manager, and CEO. The pressure of balancing these roles can turn into stress overload. And since 90 percent of startups fail within the first year, entrepreneurs are prime candidates for burnout-related medical issues like anxiety and depression.
But there are ways to relieve stress before it gets to that point. A recent study showed that people who spent at least two hours outside every week reported an increased level of wellbeing and better health than those who did not spend time in nature throughout the week. Burnout relief can be as simple as taking a walk outside.
Entrepreneur and stress relief expert Pete Alexander knows that stress is an inevitable byproduct of starting a business. To stay mentally healthy, he makes sure to spend time every week outdoors. His activity of choice? Hiking.
“When I am out on the trails I am able to reflect on what is troubling me and think through the best course of action without being distracted by the daily interruptions we have from work,” says Alexander. “And if I join a group or even one other person on the trails, I’m able to bounce ideas off of other people to help get perspective and further alleviate my stress.”
You don’t even have to go deep in the woods to start feeling the benefits of nature. One study showed that people who simply had a high amount of ‘green space’ within a 3 kilometer radius were less stressed than those with a low amount of ‘green space’ within that radius. Just being outside is enough to feel a positive health impact.
Another piece of advice Alexander gives entrepreneurs hoping to relieve stress is to take a technology detox. This is especially important for entrepreneurs who have difficulty managing a work-life balance.
“I’m talking about their electronic leash known as their smartphones. When they’re continuously answering messages in the evenings, on weekends and/or on their vacations, they have effectively not stopped working,” says Alexander. “And when you haven’t stopped working, you haven’t given your mind or your body the opportunity to recharge.”
Starting a technology detox can be as simple as leaving your phone at home while you go on a walk. And since it only takes two hours a week in nature to feel its positive effects, even the busiest entrepreneurs should carve out that time, for the sake of their health.