25 Mental Health and Wellness Tips for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
Reading Time: 18 minutes
Entrepreneurship is hard. Coming up with an idea, launching your product, and growing your business over time comes with many peaks and valleys.
To build a successful business over the long-term, you need to keep your mind, body, and soul sharp. But how do you do that?
To learn more about the best tactics for staying mentally well while building a business, I recently asked 132 entrepreneurs about the most transformative mental health and wellness practices in their lives.
Below, you’ll find what 25 of those entrepreneurs had to say.
1 Practice Self-Care
Manny Hernandez – Founder & CEO, OMNI
“One thing I have learned from my experience as an entrepreneur is the importance of self-care. As an entrepreneur, the best thing you can do for your business is to create a practice of self-care. Stress is a normal physical and emotional response to a threatening or overwhelming task or situation that can have major consequences if not managed properly.
Especially as an entrepreneur, stress is going to play a role in your life, so learning how to deal with it is very vital. One of the best ways that work for me is self-care. Self-care is when you choose behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors such as exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga, or meditation or relaxation techniques.
These are practices that work to activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing cortisol and adrenalin levels in your body, which helps to reduce stress. Self-care takes many forms, and it’s different for everyone. Exercising and yoga work perfectly well for me. It helps me to relax and feel refreshed to get things running.”
2 Share Your Struggles with Others
Joel Muise – Cofounder & CEO, Tranquility Online.
“The one habit or practice that has been the most helpful for me, especially regarding stress as it relates to my professional life has been to try my best to share my struggles with other entrepreneurs, business executives, my friends, and even my team.
This has especially been true during the past 3 months.
This has allowed me to gain more perspective, learn that I’m not alone with those feelings, and has increased the feeling of connection with those I’ve shared with. It has also given others the opportunity to share more, as I’ve learned that being vulnerable with my own struggles and feelings opens the door for others to share.”
3 Have a Morning Gratitude Routine
Julie Ann Dokowicz – CEO & Creative Director, Girl in Heels Travels
“For me, the one practice that I do each and everyday without fail, to help improve my mental health is a GRATITUDE practice. Every day when I wake up, before even checking my phone, I light up some sage, put in my earphones and zen out to some gentle music.
Once I am comfortable, I set a 2-3 minute timer and in that time I give gratitude to as many things as I can in my life and it can be large, material things like my car that gives me transport to wherever I need, to smaller things like my memory foam mattress that gives me proper rest or even taking to the very simple basics like a hot shower.
At the end of my gratitude practice, I come out feeling much calmer and in a far better headspace because this reminds me how blessed I am to have so many amazing things in my environment. I have found that this regular practice has always manifested important people to my life, better opportunities, more money and happiness.”
4 Slow Down
Donny Gamble – Owner, Retirement Investments
“This is a topic I’m passionate about and spend a lot of time researching, because it is a big deal for every business owner and entrepreneur, especially in 2020.
I live as a digital nomad along with many others, and I see them try to fit too much into one day. They scramble through their work, run out the door to rush through an activity in a strange place, skip a meal in the process, and worry about the poor work they turned in throughout the day.
After a while, they seem worn out, agitated, and don’t even seem to be enjoying their life as they travel around the world.
No matter if you are traveling, or working from home, you need to slow down. Frankly, we all need to slow down, and that’s my tip to all entrepreneurs and business owners..
Slow your life down, take a breath, and just reflect on things. Do it in the morning or evening, or at random throughout the day as you can. Figure out a self-care practice that allows you to slow things down to really get an idea of how you’re doing. This will give you a better idea of how you’re doing and can give yourself a chance to catch up with everything that’s going on.”
5 Journal Out All the “Bad Feelings”
Krista Walsh – Founder, Krista Walsh Copywriting
“I’d been working for myself for years as the owner of a website copywriting business. I loved my work, but I couldn’t figure out why about half my days weren’t very productive. Worse, those unproductive days were foggy, anxious, and full of mindless distractions.
But then I realized that what was going on on those unproductive, foggy, distracted days was that I was subconsciously being avoidant. I was doing whatever I could to not think too deeply. Which meant I avoided stretches of silence, solo work, and critical thought…. by eating poorly, watching a “quick” television show, or checking Instagram over and over again. I was not letting my mind settle because I was afraid of my own thoughts.
So I decided to block out 30 minutes first thing in the mornings to free write all my bad feelings and negative thoughts. I wrote whatever came up until all the nagging thoughts were gone. Sometimes, these thoughts were profound like, “I’m afraid I’ll never succeed because I’m just not the type who succeeds.” Other times, the thoughts were silly, like, “I’m worried that I accidentally took two vitamins yesterday instead of just one.”
The change I’ve experienced since establishing this practice has been shocking. Immediately after doing it, I feel calmer and more focused–like I’ve purged the negative stuff and worries that were clogging up my brain. Writing them down, I am forced to acknowledge it with my conscious brain, rather than letting it subconsciously rule my decisions throughout the day.
Now, the overwhelming majority of my days are productive. Moreover, I feel calmer and more present–less reactive. Everything I do feels directed, rather than inadvertent. I’m reaching my goals like crazy!”
6 Throw Yourself a Dance Party
Jessica Gifford – Founder and CEO, Thrive: Growing Wellness
“We all know that exercise is good for us, the only problem is that I hate doing it. Running and working out range from uncomfortable to downright painful, and they’re BORING. It takes a lot of willpower to do boring and uncomfortable things, even when they’re good for you. As an entrepreneur I use up about 90% of my willpower on business-related tasks, which doesn’t leave a lot left over for my health.
This is embarrassing to confess since I work in the wellness field, but I am a big believer in doing things that are quick, easy, and effective. That’s why I was delighted to find this article: Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits, which reports that 5-minutes of running per day had the same health benefits as running 30-minutes or longer!
Surely even I could do five minutes of exercise a day! And surely getting my heart pounding for five minutes –no matter how I did it – would have the same benefits of running! That’s when I instituted my 5-minute solo dance party routine to start the day. I wait until my partner jumps into the shower (because it’s important to dance like no one is watching…because no one is watching), throw on my running shoes, choose 2 or 3 songs from my dance playlist, and rock out in my PJs!
I get my heart rate up, it’s fun, it gets me energized and puts me in a positive mood at the start of the day. Even though it’s only 5-10 minutes, I feel virtuous knowing I’ve already accomplished something good for my physical and mental health. Entrepreneurs face a lot of set-backs, and I also do this in the middle of the day if I’m feeling discouraged or need a mood or energy boost.
Throw yourself a dance party!”
7 Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Jack Wang – CEO, Amazing Beauty Hair
“For me, it is mindfulness meditation. It only takes me ten minutes a day to practice being in the moment, not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. That is more than enough for me to get myself back to the present and centered. I figured that it’s helped me deal with stress and anxiety, which is crucial for all business owners.”
8 Develop an Awesome Morning Routine
Jill Higson – Chief Curator, The Art Arsenal
“My ONE habit or practice that has most significantly improved my mental health and wellness:
My Morning Routine to get me from bed to computer:
- Stretch, breathe, and meditate in bed
- Make bed
- Heat and drink a glass of lemon water while coffee brews
- Ice face then put on DIY face lemon and honey mask
- Turn on The Today Show
- Sit down with my first cup of coffee at the computer
- Check my daily to-do list taped to monitor and check emails (address professional first then personal!)
- Take a quick cold shower, get dressed, and then tune into the day’s webinars
This routine sets the day with structure and organization for a healthy mind, body, and business.”
9 Transform Your Body
Brett Prentiss – Cofounder, Instinct Marketing
“The ONE habit that has significantly improved my mental health and wellness has been a change to a healthy lifestyle. I have lost 60 pounds in the past 5 months, and my productivity level has gone up significantly. I am even more inspired to push forward with my business and make it even more successful.
For years I have struggled with my weight, and in the past year, I genuinely feel I have lost clients because of it. I have always felt judged walking into a room of people and then asking them to do business with me. How could I help their business if I can barely take care of myself? It was a powerful lesson learned.
My health deteriorated so much to a point I was in the emergency room because of the pain I experienced because of my poor health decisions. There was a day where I knew I needed to make a change. Once I made that decision, everything in my life, especially Instinct Marketing has changed for the better.
I am so much more confident in meetings, sales pitches, and even the business owners can tell. It has led to more significant results for my business and created so many more opportunities. My weight loss journey has taught me so much as a person, a business owner, and I have taken so much more pride in what needs to get done.
Taking care of your health is truly what makes wealth. You can control what you eat when you wake up and what you decide to do with the 24 hours in your day. If I know that decision doesn’t get me closer to my finish line, I will make a different decision. I am so glad to have done the things to turn my life around for the better. I’m not looking back!”
10 Enjoy the Journey
Austin Denison – Founder, Denison Success Systems
“When I was younger, my head was constantly in a space other than the present. They say that guilt is when you live in the past, and anxiety is when you live in the present. The truth is, as an entrepreneur, I always imagined the future as being better. It was as if I was holding out for the day that I could allow myself to feel accomplished and successful, even though my arbitrary definition of success is ever-changing, just like most entrepreneurs’ definitions of success are.
Success is not a destination. True success is feeling happy with the journey you create for yourself. Forming the habit of taking time out of my day to truly feel successful and accomplished allows me to pursue my motivations and goals with much more reverence while still allowing me the joy in knowing that life is unpredictable and I will handle whatever comes my way.”
11 Try “Exercise Snacks”
Amber Nash – Writer & Editor, Nash Digital
“Entrepreneurial work can mean long, sedentary work hours. To jump-start your energy and motivation to get back to healthy habits, I swear by “exercise snacks” throughout the day.
I work a computer for 8 hours per day and when I feel that my energy or mood has tanked, I push myself to engage in a burst of 20-seconds of activity. Sometimes, the 20 seconds will encourage me to move more, but I always find that I’m more motivated and alert after my exercise snack. I am much more productive on the days that I practice my exercise snack than on the days that I talk myself out doing the exercises.
Researchers found that 20-second – yes, just twenty seconds! – of stair climbing a few times per day improved the subjects’ cardiovascular fitness. You can do any exercise – bodyweight squats, kettlebell swings, jumping jacks, or walking lunges — to reap the positive rewards.”
12 Harness the Power of Deep Breaths
Stephanie Chuang – Founder, The Patient Story
“The saving grace that keeps me sane and moving is simple and self-produced: deep breaths. The mindfulness practice is borne out of a very personal trauma: It’s one of many things I’ve held onto from the myriad of lessons during cancer treatment.
From diagnosis on, I lived life from scan to scan, test after test. 700 hours of chemotherapy treatment later, I was bald and felt weak, but it was the emotional and mental scarring that plagued me most. I realized the only “control” of my life was in immersing myself fully in whatever minute she was living. Deep breathing transports me back to the present as a physiological reminder that life is still here with me now.
One other practice that has stuck with me is to laser in on whatever activity I’m doing. Stop regrets linked to the past or anxieties predicted in the future. I’ve learned that you can’t control what you think and feel, but you can influence how you react to those thoughts and feelings. It calmed me down. I would try to enjoy everything and live in the present as much as possible. That meant really washing every cup and plate and utensil when I did the dishes instead of rushing through it like a chore. That meant trying to really feel the water on my skin every time I showered instead of rushing through it like another chore.
Going through the trauma of cancer helped me cultivate the practice of deep breathing and living in the present. These practices lend an automatic reset for my day, except now, it’s not physical pain from chemo or mental anguish thinking of being a cancer patient – it’s a reset from the stress that accumulates because I’m working hard to make sure my website thrives. It’s full circle – I created The Patient Story to help other cancer patients and their caregivers navigate a diagnosis in what may be the most overwhelming, raw time of their lives.”
13 Leverage the Gift of Meditation
Jase Rodley – Entrepreneur
“Meditation has truly been a gift to me. I am a bit of a busy body, and so training my mind to relax for short periods of time has been something that nothing else could have fixed as well. Being a city boy, it’s hard to know when to stop.
So, if you can find the time each day where you HAVE to stop, you do not leave yourself the choice really. I listen to some music, sit on the floor with bare feet, and really just take in the nothingness. Of course, at first I thought it was a waste of time, but you have to find that ability to turn your mind off, and you will finish the session feeling like a new person.”
14 Lose Yourself to Hobbies
Michael Lowe – CEO, Car Passionate
“I have found that having a hobby that I truly enjoy has helped my mental health in a big way. It allows for me to focus on something else that is not work, and truly lose myself to it. For me, this is painting. I have been painting a lot these past few months.
My love for cars in paint form has really helped me to appreciate them even more, and helped me find new found love for them. As for my mental health, painting is relaxing and soothes me. I would recommend it to anyone who does not have a bobby but knows that they need one.”
15 Heal Through Therapy
Ashley Southard – Co-Founder & COO, Healer Collective
“I am a type A workaholic and always have been, but without proper mental and physical self-care, I can’t show up and perform the best (or feel my best).
The most transformative practice for both me and my business have been biweekly therapy sessions with my business partner (this is beyond my personal biweekly therapy sessions – nobody should discount the power of CBT and/or talk therapy!).
It may sound silly, but when you think about it, you often spend more time with your coworkers – especially cofounders – than your own family. The sessions have been transformative, grounding, and helpful for both of us, and we recommend it to all execs who ask us how/why we’re able to work so well together (we run 2 other companies together, as well – 1 is a non-profit.)”
16 Do Yoga
Vanessa Landryis – Board Member, Medito Foundation
“Yoga has been instrumental to my wellbeing – to ensure I take personal time away from my thoughts, ideas, stresses, and deadlines. Being an entrepreneur is exciting, but it can also be stressful.
You’re constantly thinking about problems and new ideas to solve them. So yoga has been my reprieve. Allowing me to schedule in some time for myself and reconnect with my breathing and mental health, while also getting some exercise in the process.
Yoga is my religion. It keeps me calm in times of stress and allows me to handle problems head-on with a calm and pragmatic mindset.”
17 Draw Clear Boundaries
Olivier Poirier-Leroy – Owner, YourWorkoutBook
“I have owned my business for seven years. Being an entrepreneur has meant that there is a perpetual “to do” list running through my mind. During times when I should be present with my wife, friends, or at any other time when I am away from work, my brain is still “on.” Checking my work emails, thinking about things that need to be done, stressing about an order that didn’t get delivered, and so on.
The effect is added stress, impaired sleep, and general irritability. Not great for my mental health (or the relationships with those closest to me).
The habit that I have leaned on to clearly mark boundaries between work and life (and improve my overall mental health) is having a warm-up and warm-down routine for my workday. Sounds silly, but being a life-long athlete, this was the kind of thing that clicked and has helped me most in reducing stress, improve my mental health, sleep better, and get more from the time I spend with the people I love.
Each evening I have a three-step warm-down that acts as a clear boundary between work and real life. I review the work I did that day, write out the most important three things I want to work on the next day, and spend three minutes doing meditating on Headspace.”
18 Stay Physically Active
Tyler Read – CEO, PTPioneer
“Staying physically active is the best medicine for both my physical and mental wellbeing. I played every single sport growing up and kept my endorphins flowing. However, for a period after high school, I no longer had the routine of playing and practicing with my high school sports teams.
I stopped being so active on a regular basis and I began to really struggle with staying mentally well. I felt down and lethargic and the less active I was, the less I even felt like going out to work out or play a pickup game with friends
Luckily I recognized pretty quickly that I really needed to get myself together and get back into a fitness routine. I enrolled in college and started playing sports again as well as studying kinesiology. Now I’ve been a certified personal trainer for more than a decade and staying active continues to be the absolute best medicine for me.”
19 Don’t Compromise on Sleep
Tremaine Wills – Investment Advisor, Mind Over Money
“I used to subscribe to the idea that you can sleep when you die and every waking moment was made for getting work done. The only thing it did was cause me to crash and burn at least once per week. I was often staying up to 2AM or 3AM doing something that seemed like it would move my business forward. I would then turn around and wake up at 6AM to get my day started.
I would brag about only getting 4 hours of sleep because I was in “grind mode”. The days where I was running on just 4 hours of sleep were never my best. I would crash and need an afternoon nap by Wednesday or Thursday, losing the whole evening because the nap would turn into slumber.
Finally, I made the decision that I had to leave #TeamNoSleep and be an adult. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I am in bed around 9:30PM and up by 4:30AM. I am well-rested and ready to give my best.”
20 Stay Sharp with Mindfulness
Neelima Kunam M.D. – Medical Director, Inland Psychiatric Medical Group
“As someone that people turn to for mental healthcare, when in their deepest despair or feeling completely out of control of their life, or fearful of what their life will be, I sometimes place quite a bit of pressure on myself to find the answer that will quiet their suffering.
I often have to remind myself, take a moment to recenter, and look at the bigger picture.
I started incorporating mindfulness practices into my routine so that I could avoid compassion burnout and empathy burnout. As someone that likes to find solutions, likes to brainstorm, and finds immense satisfaction in helping someone empower themselves with solutions, I found that my strengths and passions had to have boundaries to stay healthy.
Practicing medicine in this day and age often looks like seeing at least 3 patients or more an hour, and trying to create solutions, plans, as well as offer education, and then answer questions all within 15 to 20 minutes, while furiously typing away.
If I’m not a well oiled machine getting through visits on my A-game, I could end up with 16 unfinished notes and 20 messages from the pharmacy or insurance company to tend to after my work day “ends.” It’s the work we do after our work is done.
Taking small breaks throughout the day to recenter and to practice mindfulness helps me create boundaries on my own intentions and stay focused. I remind myself I don’t have to save the world of each patient every 15 minutes. I just have to work on it with them. Nothing gets fixed overnight or in one visit anyway.
Mindfulness has helped me be a better Shrink.”
21 Set Strict Cut-off Times
Sophie Bowman – CEO and Co-Founder, Business Owners Society
“As a business owner, your phone and emails never stop. Setting a cut-off time when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed is critical to maintain your sanity. Any time I start feeling stressed and overwhelmed now, I practice complete social distancing; and not just for quarantine.
People can deplete your energy and create noise, which heightens stress when you’re already feeling it. Alone time outdoors, unplugged from WiFi away from the constant phone calls, text dings and social media notifications is essential to give yourself time to decompress.
Most weekends, you’ll find me curled up by my pool with a good book or tanning while listening to reggae – it makes me feel calm within hours, and ready to go hard again on Monday morning.”
22 Practice “I am” Statements
Julia Hickman – Founder, Fastinista Online Studio
“The one habit that has helped me tremendously this past year has been “I am” statements.
Every morning, I write 1-3 I am statements that put me in the right mindset to be who I want to be so I can show up in the best way possible for myself, my family and my clients, each and every day.
I am a valued and sought-after coach.
I am a loving and patient mom.
I am amazing exactly the way I am.”
23 Cultivate a Daily Gratitude Practice
Nerissa Zhang – CEO, The Bright App
“I co-own and manage three businesses with my husband and I have three young kids at home. I’m working at home and it can be a real struggle to prioritize my own mental health and wellness. Especially since this pandemic has hit and we’re able to get out of the house less, finding time for self-care can sometimes feel overwhelming itself.
The one and only habit that I’ve always been able to stick to that can keep my mind and soul well no matter what is to practice gratitude every day. Especially when I’m frustrated, angry, or lonely I sit myself down and redirect my thoughts. Sometimes I practice gratitude solo in silent prayer, sometimes I write, and sometimes I talk about what I’m grateful for with my husband.
I think, write, or talk about the things in my life that I’m grateful for. I meditate on what I’ve been through and where I am now. I think to myself, ‘Look at where I was then and just how far I’ve come.’
I also remind myself of the people I’m helping, especially my family. I focus on the fact that my success is their success and I am working every day to build that success for myself and for them. I’ve struggled a lot in this life, but I’ve brought my family with me to this amazing place I am right now.. Yeah, times still get hard and stressful, but the reality is that I have so much to be grateful for.”
24 Practice Self-Care
Jessica Victoria – Founder, Stay Strong Collective
“Self-care is so important. As an entrepreneur, there are times where I get so overwhelmed because I have so many projects going on. But I know if I don’t slow down and take care of myself, I might become so mentally exhausted and burn out. And then I might not be able to get projects done in time. I love being productive and getting stuff done, and I truly believe self-care is a part of productivity because of what I said in the last two sentences.
Because I have no fixed schedule, what has personally helped me is creating a schedule and blocking off time for self-care. When I’m creating the schedule, I write down my meetings/appointments (which are at specific times), tasks I would like to get done today, and a specific time, at least an hour, for me to dedicate to self-care.
Also, because my schedule is flexible, I try to make room for adjustments (ex: if I become exhausted around 1 PM, I take a nap then just work an hour later). If people do have a fixed schedule, they should still easily be able to find an hour everyday for self-care. If not, it might be time for some lifestyle changes.”
25 Do Less
Tyler Buckingham – Owner, Buckingham Fitness
“The one habit that I have implemented to help myself (and my business) is: do less.
As a business owner & entrepreneur, it is common to do all the things all the time, but frankly, that’s just going to lead to a faster burnout, more stress, unmet expectations, & an unhappy outlook on the business as a whole.
I personally struggled for months and months trying to post on social media everyday, build my website, reaching out to clients, connecting with new or potential clients, rebuilt my website, connected with other small businesses, offered discounts and flash sales, and again, rebuilt my website. It’s exhausting. It’s taxing. It’s too much.
And it was inevitable for the burnout to happen.
So I began doing less (read The One Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan) and focusing on one thing. In the book, they pose the question:
“What’s the one thing you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
My focus narrowed, my productivity shot through the roof, I did one. thing. and I didn’t worry about this over here or that over there. I closed more sales, my website (finally) looks great, content has never been stronger, and the absolute best part? I am able to enjoy quality time with my better half without thinking about work.
Doing less allowed me to do more. The less I was juggling in the air, the more I was focusing on what I was juggling and making the most of it.
Also, automating tasks (building a system that functions without me), delegating tasks (hiring a team and/or contracting work out for others to do, so I can focus on building my business), and eliminating tasks (that are not helping my business grow) is essential for any business owner. Audit yourself or hire a coach to do it for you. But if the unessential or the unnecessary continue to bog you down, it’s time to change.
Do less to do more.”