How Owning a Business Impacts Mental Health and Stress Levels




These are just some of the emotions owners feel on a daily basis. Studies show that 44% of business owners feel financial stress and fear about the future of their business. These stresses can not only negatively impact their professional life but their life outside of their business as well. 

Impact on Mental Health

Recently, the conversations about mental health have grown as more and more people bravely share their stories about their depression, anxiety, and overall mental health. 50% of business owners shared they have experienced symptoms of mental distress for the first time. 25% experienced depression, 20% had anxiety, and 18% experienced chronic stress for the first time. 

An award-winning article in Inc. shares, “Complicating matters, new entrepreneurs often make themselves less resilient by neglecting their health. They eat too much or too little, don’t get enough sleep, and fail to exercise.”

Business owners, especially new founders, often spend most of their time working on their businesses. They feel the responsibility for the business’s success and the failures that may occur. Additionally, they feel the pressure of being responsible for the livelihoods of all their employees. Their career not only impacts them but has a ripple effect that can affect hundreds of families.  

Impact on Physical Health

Medical research estimates that up to 90% of illness and disease is related to stress. Mental health and stress levels can directly impact physical health. Some physical manifestations of stress can be high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and heart disease. 

High stress levels can also tragically lead to death. The American Institute of Stress reports that 120,000 people die every year, directly as a result of work-related stress.  

How to Mitigate Stress at Work

The stresses business owners face continue far beyond the traditional 9-5 workday. To mitigate this stress and be able to effectively and successfully run their businesses, business owners should follow some of these tips. 

Identify Your Stressors 

To properly mitigate the stress points in a business, the owner must first understand the root cause of the stress. Similar to EPIs Five Stages of Value Maturity, the first step is to Identify the problem. Once owners have a deep understanding of what tasks or job functions cause stress, they are able to work on a plan to mitigate those stresses. This can include delegating the task to another leader on their team, reworking the process that caused the stress, or simply giving themself more time to work through the process to limit stress. 

Create an Organized Plan

Developing a strategic plan to optimize processes and tasks can limit stress. Studies show that routine and structure are some of the ways to reduce daily stress. Routine provides a sense of peace and control that can otherwise evade owners. 

Recognize and Celebrate Successes  

When the stress of owning a business becomes overwhelming, business owners should take a moment to recognize their successes. The feeling of making progress, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to relax and limit stress. By identifying areas of a business that are successful and thriving, owners are put into a positive mindset which makes it easier to manage other stresses of their job. 

Prioritize Your Time and Say No

Owners tend to work beyond the typical working hours each day. With much of the responsibility for the business’s success resting on their shoulders, they can feel like the business would collapse if not for them. This leads to an unmanageable amount of stress in their life. By prioritizing their time in and out of their business, they will have a more balanced life. 

By setting professional boundaries early on, business owners will have the framework in place to say no to customers, tasks, and opportunities that can add to their stress. Taking on an unmanageable workload is one of the key stressors in a business owner’s life.   

Decentralize Yourself From Your Business

Business owners often can resist delegating tasks or relinquishing some control to team members. However, not only is taking on more than they can handle a source of stress for them but negatively impacts their business as well. By delegating tasks that owners struggle with or dislike, they encourage growth in their employees and limit the dependence on their individual successes for the overall success of the business. 

How do you limit the stress in your business? What strategies would you recommend to owners with high stress levels?  

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