I've been an entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. I've worked at home with little children at my feet, at Starbucks and in hotel rooms, kitchen tables, and home offices. At times, I could hardly work at all. I discovered that I need to be out of the house, meeting people, engaging in conversation. I am a very social person. But, if you are constantly out at meetings – – socializing and networking, you're never really getting your work done.
How do entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, who work alone, avoid falling into a deep dark hole of loneliness and depression? It's hard when you go all day without in-person, human interaction. Sometimes it isn't enough to simply keep your head down and your computer open.
Recently, I had a great chat with Beth Bernstein, from SQN Events. Beth has faced her own battle with depression, bigger and deeper than anything I hope to ever experience. Beth shared her best tips on avoiding depression as a solopreneur:
- Stay busy. Beth suggests making lunch dates, scheduling appointments, make sure you build time for a massage or anything to force you to get of bed, shower, and get out of the house. She says from experience, “If I don't have anything on my calendar, I can easily get sucked into a cycle of not taking care of myself and watching Law and Order marathons curled up in a ball for days on end.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise is key when fighting depression. Again, it forces you to get out of bed and those endorphins really will pump you up. Just a 20-minute walk outside helps. On a side note, I have personally challenged myself to get up and move around every couple of hours. That means getting up and putting a load of laundry in or taking a brief walk outside. Put it in your calendar. Set a timer for yourself. Don't get so wrapped up in something that you can't get up and be physical. Literally getting up and moving, that one action, will make a difference emotionally and physically.
- Visit someplace with natural light. If you can't hop on a plane and head out to California or Mexico and let's face it, most of us can't, find a spot in your local community that has light and warmth and can refresh you mentally. In Chicago, we like to head to the Garfield Park Conservatory which is filled with greenery and fresh flowers. It's warm and bright and it's even hot in some rooms where they have tropical blooms.
Last but not least, if you have a history of depression, continue to see a therapist on a regular basis, even if you feel fine. If you have had any history of depression at all, having a therapist is tremendous. They can spot warning signs a lot easier than you can before you can admit to yourself you start to go down a rabbit hole. But listen to your friends as well; talk to them, trust them, they know you. They know your habits. In fact, a few years ago, I was having lunch with Beth and I could just tell something was off but she hadn't yet recognized it. As it turned out, she had been given the wrong dosage of medication and wasn't aware of it. It was affecting her and because I noticed her patterns and habits she caught it before it became disastrous. Thank goodness.
Continue to build healthy habits because they help you feel good and avoid depression. These habits also go a long way towards helping you be more successful in your job. They even help you with your clients. Having healthy boundaries and habits gives others confidence in you. When you take good care of yourself, clients know you will take good care of them.