31 Oct Acting Director’s Foreword – October 2022
By Simphiwe Mntambo
Prioritising your Mental Health and Wellbeing
With just over two months left of the year, it is a crucial time to push forward and take stock of where you have been, where you currently are and where you’d like to go. As you work towards accomplishing the goals you’ve set for this quarter, this period presents the opportune time to begin making plans and setting out objectives for 2023. Most of us are feeling worn out as we manage the sensitive balance of family, life, work and our startup demands. Some may already be feeling the brunt of the year as burnout creeps up, leaving us feeling exhausted, isolated, and overwhelmed.
According to a study conducted by UC Berkeley, up to 72% of entrepreneurs were found to struggle with mental illness at one point or another. October is globally recognised as Mental Health Awareness month, which presents the opportunity for us to have safe and open conversations about mental health, and how we can better look after ourselves. Good mental health is an integral part of success, happiness, and well-being, and it should be top of mind when considering the state of one’s health.
Many people present a happy, settled facade, while deep inside, they are struggling and feeling alone as they face daily challenges at home and at work or as entrepreneurs. As members of the AGOF community, we are one another’s keeper; it is important to check up on each other and support one another. Furthermore, members of our EA and IVC entrepreneurial communities have access to professional mental health support through ICAS services, which we encourage Fellows to make use of when the need arises.
We face a multitude of socio-economic challenges in our broader society, including the energy and water crises, the impact of isolation during the pandemic, and various flashpoints of social upheaval, leaving many to experience heightened anxiety and depression., It is also important to know when to reach out for help, bearing in mind that talking to someone may help you gain perspective and provide comfort and tools to cope with challenges you are facing.
Burnout is a real concern and with all that we’ve been through over the last 24 months, it’s important to take stock and move with intention. Stressful situations can make or break us; new activities and hobbies will present the mind and body with the opportunity to rest and reset away from the stressful factors of life and work. For many entrepreneurs, dealing with the ins and outs of building a business is a one-person job, which can take a toll, so it is vital to learn to delegate and share some of the load. Even when one has not reached the milestone of being an employer, many functions can be automated through technology, freeing founders to focus on matters that need more attention. Physical health is key to a healthy lifestyle is encouraged. Make sure to recharge your batteries by getting good sleep, while also fitting in time to exercise and eat healthily.
With that said, how can you use this time to achieve and close off on your goals? One must be deliberate and putting one’s plans down on paper is a great place to start. Start thinking about your objectives and goals for 2023 and put together a vision board to help put the plans into perspective, and to be a constant reminder of what you’d like to achieve in the various parts of your life. It is also a fantastic way to relax.
As you reflect on the year that has passed and you identify areas of improvement and make a realistic plan to do things differently. Entrepreneurs tend to move on quickly from their achievements to chase the next goal, and as a result, they tend to neglect to acknowledge and celebrate achievements. The end of the year provides the ideal time to reflect on your accomplishments and through this exercise, you will also be able to take the lessons learned and apply them to future projects.
Lastly, it is a good idea to start putting plans in place and try and get a break, if your business allows for this. Downtime can be an invigorating period in which you get to do things you love that you may have neglected during the year – something as simple as reading a book will help you to take your mind off work and help you recharge during the holidays. If you can’t close during the festive season, put measures in place by delegating what you can – either through automation or allowing others to take on the load, and take a few hours a week to break away from the business. Pace yourself and explore realistic self-care activities and rituals that will allow you to refill your cup. Rest is an important part of running a business and Anna Lamott once said: “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Take a moment to yourself, and then reconnect.