How to Take Care of Your Own Mental Wellbeing When Running a Team
Karen Chung, CEO and Founder of Kossie shares her insights on the Liberty Mind blog about how to maintain your own wellbeing when you’re trying to get your own team through a crisis. Karen reveals her own personal struggles, and how she’s found the balance of self-care when being an active Founder.
Every good leader knows that the mental wellbeing of their team is incredibly important. In more recent years, and especially in the COVID era, a focus on mental health at work is at the forefront. While this is something to be applauded, with teams everywhere feeling the benefits of more open communication and access to support, it’s important that leaders aren’t forgotten.
Being a startup founder, a CEO, or any type of leader is incredibly stressful. According to Forbes, entrepreneurs are technically 50% more likely to have a mental health condition than “ordinary folk,” and twice as likely to suffer from depression. When you’re running on fumes and trying to keep up morale for your team, that kind of data won’t fill you with much hope.
So how best can those running a team (and keeping a business successful) keep their own mental wellbeing in check?
Finding Time To Take Care Of Yourself
When everyone is looking to you for answers, alongside deadlines and other work, it can be easy to push your own wellbeing to the wayside in order to get the job done.
However, from personal experience I can say that that is not the way forward. When I worked in finance, I became more and more stressed each day, pushing it away to continue with my role as best I could, until one day I couldn’t take it anymore and suffered a near-breakdown. Bottling up my feelings led to one thing only: the cork exploding. Now I run my team at Kossie with a clear focus on flexibility and mental wellbeing – for my employees and importantly, myself.
Now, I know that for me and other Founders, the most valuable tool is finding the time to actually focus on self-care – it doesn’t have to be hours each day, especially if you’re time-poor. By unplugging, even for a few moments each day and looking inwards, you can learn to better understand your emotions and make sense of them.
I really encourage everyone to dedicate time, daily, to invest in your mental health and spend time understanding how you feel and why. Then you can use this to make a conscious decision to enable you to move forward and support your team. Taking a break when you need to is also key to better mental health – we are human beings and not machines. It’s okay to put the devices down, and take a walk. If this is something that clears your mind, your employees will thank you in the long-run.
Opening up the conversation about mental health in the workplace, rather than just providing external resources for staff can also reduce pressure on you. If your employees can see that you’re open about struggling sometimes, it will allow them to feel more at ease with their own concerns as they realise that talking about mental health starts at the top.
Looking to the Future
The reality is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to looking after your own mental health – the most important thing is that you are able to recognise and tune into your emotions, acting quickly when you spot an issue. After all, looking after your mental health and well-being when leading a business should be a priority. If you’re sitting at your desk or running meetings each day dealing with anxiety and stress, you’re not going to perform at your best.
As with anything, these things can take time. Especially if you’re someone who has a habit of pushing difficult and negative emotions away, recognising when something needs to change or when you need to ask for support can be difficult to spot at work. However, if you continually check in with yourself, you’ll turn this new habit into a successful routine. With healthy mental and self-care habits improved, your business and in turn, your team will improve.