In this day and age, more emphasis is being placed on mental wellness than ever before. And rightfully so – according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 people, or 43.8 million adults, experience mental illness in a given year. If you think that’s bad, these numbers get even worse in the entrepreneurial space. Of 242 entrepreneurs who were surveyed, roughly 49% suffer from mental health conditions.
Of all career paths, entrepreneurship is as high-risk, high-reward as it comes. After spending years mastering their culinary craft, not only do food truck entrepreneurs have to learn how to start and run a business, but they often have to rely on that income to make ends meet. Although you’re building a new and useful skill set, what used to be a source of joy can one of your biggest stressors. This lifestyle can cause you to lose sleep, worry constantly, and make poor eating choices – all which could lead to mental health woes, even if you’ve never been susceptible before.
Additionally, entrepreneurship can cause social isolation. Not only do you typically have less time to connect with friends and loved ones on a personal level, but genuine conversations can easily be replaced with more shallow, business-centered conversations. “How’s the food truck going?” or “How are your sales?” can become commonplace, which can lead to frustration or shame if things aren’t going well at the time. Your own identity can be lost, or at least difficult to separate from your food truck, as it becomes more and more intertwined with your personal life.
Can you see how this can render food truck owners particularly susceptible to mental health issues? Entrepreneurs are more likely to report depression, attention hyperactivity deficit disorder, bipolar spectrum disorder, and even substance abuse. In order to be your best self, it’s imperative to prioritize your mental wellbeing. Below are a few simple ways you can take steps towards being your best self.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
Studies indicate that physical activity can treat mild to moderate depression as well as antidepressants. When you exercise, your body releases powerful chemicals called endorphins, which triggers a positive feeling in your nervous system. Working out has also been known to boost self-esteem, expand the memory, and boost mental acuity.
If you’re not used to working out, start as small as necessary in order to instill the habit. By simply making it a habit to stretch in the morning, you can improve your blood circulation, posture, flexibility, and energy levels. Whether it’s a simple walk around the neighborhood, yoga class, or a local softball league a few times a week, just get moving! According to Psychology Today, improved dietary and exercise habits increase the sensitivity of the dopamine receptors in the brain that signal reward, so even if it doesn’t start out great, it gets better and more rewarding with time and consistency.
Take Time to Reflect
Food truck owners often find themselves on the go from the moment you wake up until the moment you fall asleep. If your food truck operates 5 days a week and you have catering events on weekends, there is little time left for yourself, so it’s important to maximize this time. Setting aside time – even if it’s just 5 minutes in the morning or at night – to process your thoughts and feelings is crucial for your mental wellbeing.
What you do during that time of reflection is your call. Keeping a journal may be beneficial for recording thoughts and recognizing behavioral patterns. If you don’t enjoy writing, you may find it helpful to focus on things to be grateful for or reflect on what lessons you can learn from that day. Or you can simply relax and take a few deep breaths. Doing any of these activities consistently will teach you to have compassion on yourself, which will increase your compassion for others and make you a better leader.
Create A Support System
Earlier, we discussed a few scenarios where connections and can become shallow, so it’s all the more important for you to foster those genuine connections. It’s entirely up to you to decide what type of connections you need. For some, it can be as simple as getting more involved in your local food truck association to be around entrepreneurs in the same space that “gets it.” Others may decide to see a therapist who is familiar with the demands of entrepreneurship and the complexities involved with the lifestyle. Regardless of your decision, the main goal is that you make and maintain meaningful connections.
By putting some of these things into practice, you will feel better and be better equipped to run your food truck business. What are you already doing to take care of your mental wellbeing? Let us know in the comments!