Entrepreneurship always involves a lot of responsibility, even if the business is small. The larger the business, the more stress and problems associated with competition, credit, taxes, and market fluctuations. These problems often develop into typical occupational diseases related to nervous tension, improper diet, sedentary work, and other features.
Deferred Life Syndrome (or neurosis)
This condition is not part of the International Classification of Diseases and rather describes a way of thinking. In the neurotic state, the person lives expecting a pivotal event that will change his life forever. He is indifferent to the present, devalues it, and does not allow himself to enjoy it. This state can be a consequence of insecurity or perfectionism (“I need to do everything right the first time, so I’ll prepare some more”).
Avoidance is characteristic of many entrepreneurs: their occupation implies mistakes, and they can hurt and engender fear. The syndrome becomes a defense mechanism in this sense: if you do not act, there will be no victories, but there will be no disappointments. But when the mass of unresolved problems exceeds the possibilities, the syndrome can develop into a neurosis. The energy of unresolved displaced problems will erupt in the form of apathy, a sense of oneself in a social vacuum. In this state, the person has difficulty setting goals, as well as feelings of guilt and shame, and devalues his achievements.
To get out of this state, psychologists advise first to define their true desires and set goals only based on them. Imagine you need to write a story. And you need to think through what’s going to happen step by step. That’s what I do when I write my essay. Now do the same thing, only with your own plans and goals. Large tasks, such as “build a successful business,” you need to break down into smaller ones: “register the company,” “to form a business plan” – and to praise yourself for the intermediate achievements. It is essential to accept that mistakes are inevitable, making sense to forgive yourself for them in advance.
It is emotional and physical exhaustion accompanied by anxiety and fatigue from the very beginning of the day. It is characterized by constant fatigue, deterioration of cognitive functions (including memory), poor sleep, palpitations, sweating, problems with ordinary physical activity (suddenly it became difficult to climb stairs, before running 10 km, now there is no strength even to stand up), increased anxiety, reduced immunity (frequent colds), headaches.
The habit of drinking coffee can explain the accumulation of fatigue: entering the body, caffeine blocks the action of adenosine – the neurotransmitter responsible for sleepiness. It sort of tricks the brain into believing that it is not tired and works at full capacity. Adenosine accumulates, and when the effects of caffeine cease, fatigue sets in with increased force. Replace caffeine with “urgent business tasks” or “strategic plans,” and the analogy is clear.
When working to the point of exhaustion, a person often competes with an imaginary adversary: parental expectations or someone for whom they feel jealous.
We often think that if we don’t start our own business by age 30 and make our first million dollars by age 35, we will be considered losers, and society will reject us. But ask yourself: does society expect that of you? Understand: you can be loved simply because you are – not because you have a business and a decent bank account.
Escape from the “breakage horse mode,” according to clinical psychologists, will help a clear plan: write in it what exactly the steps are and in what specific time frame you can achieve the desired. It is important to build this plan not in an “express” mode, not at your best.
In a state of race and stress, the body automatically mobilizes and needs to be relaxed. Therefore, in addition to regular breaks and rest, Jacobson muscle relaxation can help. Psychologists advise not to avoid physical activity altogether – its absence, paradoxically, may lead to fatigue. But sports should be feasible and moderate: better to do twenty minutes every morning than three hours in a row, but once a week.
Depression and Heightened Anxiety
According to a University of California, San Francisco study, 49% of the more than 240 entrepreneurs surveyed reported having a mental health disorder, with depression being the most common. 27% of those surveyed also cited problems with anxiety. Among them, anxiety was almost 20% higher than the average American.
It is important not to confuse depression with anxiety, excessive fear, or worry about an ongoing situation (business, family), the coming (important negotiations), or the past. Depression differs from anxiety in its greater intensity and duration, and it directly interferes with adaptation to the conditions of life. Depression is characterized by a feeling of melancholy, hopelessness, complete emotional emptiness, and loss of interest even in what used to be the joy of life and brought the most pleasure. Physical difficulties accompany it: the person cannot wake up in the morning (the condition in the morning is usually worse than in the evening) cannot concentrate on anything. On average, depressive states occur slightly more frequently in women: 20-25% versus 7-12% in men.
At the same time, the main risk group is people 25-35 years old; the average age of depression is 27 years old. According to psychologists, this age is characterized by the greatest activity: a person has recently graduated and begins to build a career and enter into social life. At the same time, he already has certain expectations of the future (“I will go to work and in a year I will start to get a lot of money”). And if they do not come true for a long time (he graduates from the institute, finds a job, but does not get the expected salary), there comes disappointment. The situation can be aggravated by a condition that specialists call “learned helplessness”: when a person believes that they are unable to influence what is happening, they begin to complain about themselves (“I am a failure”, “I am lazy”, “I did not learn this programming language in time and now I am uncompetitive”). And the higher the expectations of a negative situation, the stronger will be the cognitive blow, right up to a complete loss of motivation to do anything further and loss of interest in life.
At the imagery level, a depressed state can be compared to a heavy wool blanket that presses you into bed, psychologists say, so hard that you find it hard to get up. And if the condition persists for more than a week, it’s worth considering seeing a specialist. For those confident that they can still control their condition, clinical psychologists advise looking for answers in Robert Leahy’s book “Beat Depression Before It Beats You.
Depression can also be a conditioned reflex to societal expectations, whether real or imagined. This is characteristic of people who, since childhood, have been used to being judged – first by parents and friends, then my colleagues and subordinates. The psychologist advises you to ask yourself why you want to deserve the love and praise of others. Imagine what would happen if you let yourself live, at least for a short time, as you like it. It may turn out that nothing will change, except that those who used to take advantage of your liability will no longer be able to do so.
According to psychologists, it is vital to adequately analyze their accomplishments while not lowering their value. Tell yourself, “I am the one who started my own business and hired 50 people,” “I am the one who raised company revenues by 1.5 times in the last year,” “I have a choice: moan about the epidemic or run rapid delivery in my café and not lose clients.” Another option is to reassess your stance on social media. Never compare yourself to others!
Anxiety is a factor causing lack of sleep and problems with sleep in general. Some entrepreneurs deliberately disrupt sleep patterns, believing that they work better at night. Others would love to sleep but just can’t do it. It is important not to try to force yourself to fall asleep during insomnia or to “tire” yourself out by force. With insomnia, clinical psychologists advise lying in silence and darkness for as long as necessary. Trying to put yourself to sleep with gadgets (such as monotonous games or reading from the screen), on the contrary, is not worth it – you only disturb the nervous system. Often it is possible to force the brain to distract itself from negative thoughts by concentrating on an alternative process. An essential condition: if you are right-handed, draw with your left hand; if you are left-handed, draw with your right hand. The change in habitual processes improves interhemispheric interaction; you concentrate better on movements and are more distracted from intrusive thoughts.
Often obsessive thoughts – resentment or self-criticism – keep you awake. If the reason is the first, try to write a letter to the person who, in your opinion, did wrong to you. Address the offender sincerely, without hiding your feelings. Transferring your emotions on paper will free the mind and allow you to fall asleep with relief. But suppose at two in the morning you are still analyzing the events of ten years ago, trying to understand what was your fault. In that case, psychologists advise using the method of visualization. Recreate the beginning of the event in your memory, which did not end the way you wanted, and to the smallest detail – details of the environment, sounds, and even smells. But at the turning point, change the course of events – present the situation as you would like it to be. For example, if you lost an argument, imagine that you won it, and pay attention to how you feel like a winner. Replay that moment in your mind until the negative emotions are gone.
Irritable bowel syndrome
GI problems can be caused by stress, among other things. One of these is irritable bowel syndrome. Although the syndrome is estimated to affect between 16% and 26% of patients, it is more common in people with neuroses, chronic stress, and overwork than the population average. The syndrome is usually accompanied by nausea, abdominal discomfort, and irregular stools. A distinctive feature of this disease is that it has no visible evidence in the form of an organic substrate: it cannot be detected by an endoscope or by other tests (like peptic ulcer disease). It is possible to diagnose the patient only by exclusion.
Therefore, for those who suspect themselves of irritable bowel syndrome, experts first advise seeing a doctor and undergoing a full course of examinations: ultrasound, gastro-and colonoscopy to exclude GI diseases, which are similar to irritable bowel syndrome in their symptoms. For example, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis. When these are ruled out and the treating physician stops at the hypothesis of irritable bowel syndrome, in addition to working with a gastroenterologist and taking medications, he is likely to appoint the patient consultation with a psychologist or psychotherapist. This is to establish the connection between the disease and the stressor.
Heart problems can be caused by various things, from bad habits like smoking to lack of physical activity. For example, coronary heart disease (in which the heart muscle is insufficiently supplied with blood) most often occurs due to high cholesterol, which is deposited in the blood vessels due to hereditary predisposition or the habit of abusing fatty foods. And the main risk factor for many cardiovascular diseases is constant stress.
Responsibility for the financial well-being of others and the overall success of the business presses in every sense: stressful situations increase blood pressure. When stressed, the arteries become less elastic, and when the blood vessels spasm, the heart begins to experience a severe lack of oxygen – so the risk of arrhythmias increases. The amygdala body, an area in the temporal lobe of the brain, also reacts to stress: it releases an increased number of white cells that cause an inflammatory process in the arteries. One of the most common “heart” problems in people with increased stress is hypertension or high blood pressure. Also, on the background of stress can appear cardiomyopathy, early development of coronary heart disease, heart failure (inability of the heart to ensure blood circulation), which is usually manifested as shortness of breath, edema, altered heart rate.