Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Your self-care as an entrepreneur

By Dr Bahare Afrahi
August 16, 2023

You know that as an entrepreneur, by the nature of your work, you experience unique stressors that distinguish yourself from your employees. Your multifaceted roles extends from marketing and sales to product development, finance and cash flow to employee management while at the same time, you are hooked for sustaining your business for you and your employees.

Years and years of research show that you are often stewards of your employees and have a strong sense of responsibility towards your team. This can lead to burnout without the necessary self-care.

So, how can you take care of yourself and at the same time sustain your business?  Here are some suggestions for you from my research and experience.

What are the best ways entrepreneurs can take care of themselves and manage stress? 

Our research shows that psychological detachment is the core recovery experience. What is it? Well, it is ‘switching off’ during non-work time. It is our experience of being mentally away from work, to make a pause in thinking about work-related issues. In effect, it is refraining from job-related activities and thoughts during nonwork time, to mentally disengage from our jobs while being away from work.

Why? How does detachment from work affect stress levels? 

Job stressors, particularly workload, predict low levels of psychological detachment and a lack of detachment in turn predicts high strain levels and poor individual well-being such as burnout and lower life satisfaction. ‘Switching off’ reduces the effect of job stressors on the one hand and strain and poor well-being on the other hand.

What we also find in our research is that detachment from work is positively correlated with self-reported mental and physical health, well-being, and task performance.

Sounds great, but how can I detach from work? 

Whilst detachment from work, during non-work time seems to be at the core of managing stress, research suggests that entrepreneurs have difficulty detaching from work because of their sense of responsibility and that they prioritise work over life and have little desire for boundaries between the two. This is in addition to their often very high workload.

What to do then? Try creating plans to resolve incomplete work goals, this seems to be one of the best-worked strategies that help entrepreneurs detach from work.

The next thing that works well is work-related self-efficacy and enthusiasm that leads to engagement in recovery activity, which in turn mobilises further positive beliefs and affects gained during the recovery time.  Creating a virtuous circle effect.

Finally, boundary creation around information and communication seems to work its magic and help entrepreneurs detach, which in turn helps the recovery. It’s no surprise that work-related extended availability will negatively affect your detachment and recovery.

The simple message, spend more time on activities that help you switch off from work related thoughts.