The mental and emotional hardships that accompany entrepreneurship can be hard to imagine from the outside. We see entrepreneurs as creatives, innovators, and go-getters, but sometimes we neglect to recognize the other side of the coin – the long hours, self-doubt, isolation, and increased rates of mental health struggles. Researchers sampled 242 entrepreneurs and found that of them 49% (compared to 32% of the comparison group) reported having one or more mental health conditions (Freeman, Johnson, Staudenmaier, & Zisser, 2015). Further, the entrepreneurs of the sample had higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
Frighteningly, researchers have drawn parallels between the behaviors of entrepreneurs and addicts, suggesting that “workaholism” is not just a word to be thrown around. This has led to the coinage of the term entrepreneurship addiction, which can be defined as “excessive or compulsive engagement in entrepreneurial activities that results in a variety of social, emotional, and/or physiological problems,” that increases in intensity (Spivack & McKelvie, 2017).
Entrepreneurship addiction manifests itself in six behaviors:
- Obsessive thoughts – This is when thoughts surrounding your entrepreneurial activities seep into the other aspects of your life and you cannot shut them off. Obsessive thoughts may be good for results and productivity, but they can hamper attention and growth to other areas, such as hobbies, relationships, sleep, diet & exercise, and setting time aside to relax and recharge for the next day
- Withdrawal/engagement cycles – You may be in a state of withdrawal if being away from work causes you negative feelings. A good businessperson worries about their ventures, naturally, as there is so much on the line, but if you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, or depressed when away from your work or wishing you were doing entrepreneurial activities while participating in other things, you may be experiencing this symptom.
- Self-worth – Many people feel satisfaction and validation through accomplishments in their work, but it becomes problematic when your sense of self-worth is completely hinged upon entrepreneurial activities. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and poor self-image, particularly when facing the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
- Tolerance – Dramatic increases in time or resources spent in entrepreneurial ventures are strong indicators of tolerance. Sometimes, this means having more responsibility in the projects you are taking on; other times it involves embarking on more new projects as a whole. The essence of this trait is that it takes more and more for you to feel satisfied with your business and how much you put into it.
- Neglect – When your entrepreneurship consumes your thoughts and energy, you are likely to begin neglecting other areas of life. Specifically, disengaging with friends and activities you formerly enjoyed can hint at a possible addiction to work. This, like the other symptoms, is commonly seen in people with substance abuse and is one of the first indicators of an addiction.Entrepreneurial Addiction
- Negative outcomes – Consequently, an unhealthy amount of work-involvement can lead to deleterious mental, emotional, relational, and physical effects. Common ones include less time spent with loved ones, stress-related damage to the immune system, decreased amounts of sleep, poor nutritional habits, and feelings of guilt or anxiety.
How Does This Happen?
The demanding hours required to work full-time as an entrepreneur can lead to overwhelming amounts of pressure and neglect of the self and others. There is so much being asked of you, and at times it can feel as if you are doing everything alone. The amount of work that must be done, the unique difficulties you face in doing it, and the risks involved can be a toll-taking combination, leading to high levels of stress, overwhelming workloads, and, subsequently, feelings of being burnt out.
How Can We Fix It?
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is paramount. This means making a conscious effort to provide yourself with what you need, such as adequate sleep, nutritious meals, and time for loved ones and recreational passions. Be reasonable in your goal-setting and try to keep work restrained to certain hours, buildings, or rooms of the house if you work from home. It is easy to commit to what feels like a thousand different things and realize afterwards you have stretched yourself too thin. To combat this, be organized, honest, and decisive. Keeping a planner is a great way to stay on top of all the things you are responsible for and being honest with yourself and your colleagues about your capabilities is the only way to keep that list from growing too long. Further, learn to say no when that is the best thing for you.Entrepreneurial Addiction
If your work responsibilities are taking a toll on your mental health, causing you significant distress, or interfering with other aspects of your life, please schedule a free consultation now to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!
About Makin Wellness :
Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .