Entrepreneurs become depressed due to four primary factors: financial worries, working long hours, managing overwhelming demands of the business, and poor self care. Learning how to manage your energy effectively can help you master even the most desperate situation.
In her interview with Forbes, Penny Power, the founder of Ecademy, made an interesting confession. She stated that when she started out in business, she focused on the business but not on herself.
She completely ignored the vulnerabilities of her personality and failed to manage her well-being. In retrospect, she said she knew that she would have achieved more if she had taken the time to understand herself better:
“If I had focused on my emotional and mental wellbeing, my outcomes would be different,” – Penny Power (source).
I must say that Ms. Power hit the nail on the head in this statement. I only wish more entrepreneurs would draw similar conclusions earlier in their careers.
Instead, we tend to run ourselves into the ground, trying to make our businesses successful. And by neglecting the needs of our bodies and minds, we often slip into depression.
In this guide, we’ll address the issue of running a business and dealing with depression and also anxiety – because they are related. We’ll look at how you got here and what you can start doing today to dig yourself out and feel like you’re thriving and living again.
“My Business Is Making Me Depressed” – Signs and Causes
Here are some of the signs of depression in entrepreneurs:
- Feeling hopeless or helpless, often or chronically
- Feeling overwhelmed by the demands of the business
- Feeling too exhausted and anxious to talk to customers or team members
- Feeling guilty about having arrived at this situation
- Money worries
- Physical and mental exhaustion and the worry that you won’t have enough energy to do everything that needs to be done.
Top Causes of Depression in Entrepreneurs
A study done in the Netherlands in 2020 (source) revealed that the top six stressors for entrepreneurs that contribute the most to being depressed are:
- Financial worries, real or imagined (actual or projected)
- Excessive work hours (average being 49 hours per week, and many working as many as 70 hours or even more)
- Managing numerous aspects of the business
- Conflict of interest with team members, customers, suppliers, or investors
- Overwhelming responsibility for their own income, their team’s salaries, the quality of the product or service, and fulfilling customer expectations
- Administrative tasks, such as dealing with rules and regulations, taxes, bookkeeping, and payroll.
Many items on this list no doubt sound familiar to you. In fact, it can take only two or three of these to begin to feel depressed.
Note that only two of these – worries about money and excessive work hours – are in direct control of the business owner. Yes, I am hinting that the solution lies within you.
So let’s discuss one skill that will be critical to your recovery and a key to your productivity, success, and the joy that you were after when you became an entrepreneur.
Energy Management: Your Vital Business Skill
In their book “The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal,” Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz make a strong case for energy management as the primary key to productivity and success.
When I first learned this concept around 2006, I took it lightly. Then, after I hit a major burnout and depression in 2008, I rediscovered this book and took it to heart.
I won’t give you the gist of the book here. Instead, I’ll give you more than that. I’ll share what I learned as a result of years of studying and practicing effective energy management.
In fact, we’ll go deeper than the book because I’ll integrate concepts from multiple other sources that worked together to help me dig myself out and thrive.
And I’ll give you practical steps you can start taking today to begin dissolving depression and regain the energy and the joy of life you imagined you’d get when you became an entrepreneur.
The Only Three Resources You Really Have as an Entrepreneur
Of all the variables in your life and business, you should be concerned about only three:
You can retort that you also have human resources, such as your team. But you only have your team for as long as you can reimburse it. So, money is the actual resource.
Okay, this is a take on the famous E=MC2 by Albert Einstein. What does he do in this formula? He equates energy and matter.
What I would like to do is to equate Energy, Money, and Time. They are not the same, no. But these resources are interchangeable; they are intermutable.
This means that:
- You can turn your energy into money
- You can turn your money into energy and time
- You can also turn money into energy
This may seem obvious, but I’m going somewhere with this. You see, a depressed entrepreneur is usually low on one or more of the three resources (usually all three):
He is low on energy and has a hard time being productive and turning energy into money. And yet, turning energy into money is his primary business skill.
He is low on money, and this contributes to worry and anxiety. And one of the definitions of worry is burning energy on the uncontrollable. The more you worry, the less energy you have for things you can actually control or influence.
He is low on time because his bills are piling up, and they won’t wait. And being low on time also contributes to anxiety and thus steals precious energy.
When You’re Tired, Bills Are Overdue, and Money Is Tight
It’s quite a pickle to be tired, stressed out, and broke. Now, let’s recall what I said earlier.
Energy, money, and time are intermutable. You can transmute these resources into one another if you have a little of at least one of them:
You may be totally exhausted, physically and mentally. But if your bills are paid for a while, then you have some time. You can use this time to take some of it off, relax, renew, and gain some energy.
Your bills may be all piled up, and you may have little to no money. But if you have energy, you can turn on your jets and get some clients or launch a product. You can turn your energy into money, which can also buy you time.
And if you have money – hey, you can buy yourself time. You can also buy yourself a vacation and get some energy. That’s why they say “cash is king.”
Makes sense, right?
Now – let me ask you a question. Which of the three resources is under your direct control?
If you said, “Energy,” you’re right. Sometimes you get to a point where you can’t sell or borrow anymore, so money is not immediately available.
And if your mortgage or commercial space rent is overdue, or your suppliers demand payment, well, you don’t have much time. Time is a scarce resource for you at the moment.
So the only resource you have at your disposal then is your Energy. And you can turn to this resource at any time, even when you’re exhausted. I’ll show you how. This is why Energy Management is your key business skill.
The Five Levels of Energy
At this point you can say, “But Philip, I am so tired and depressed! Where will I get the energy to transmute it into money and time?”
I appreciate what you’re saying. And to answer this question, I’ll point out that you have five different levels of energy to work with. And just like with the main three resources, if one or more are depleted, you can use one or more of the others to pull yourself out of a difficult situation.
The five levels of energy are:
- Physical energy (the ability to work)
- Mental energy (the ability to think and make decisions)
- Emotional energy (the ability to wipe out negative emotions and nurture positive ones)
- Sexual energy (the ability to reproduce)
- Spiritual energy (the ability to connect to the Infinite in order to get answers and manifest outcomes)
If you have some of any of these types of energy in store, or if you can awaken a dormant source of energy, you now have the power to transmute energy into money, time, and achieving specific goals.
This is why there are no desperate situations. As a doctor and a mentor of mine once taught me, “Any desperate situation always has at least two solutions.” Pure wisdom right there.
I would recommend you read this article I wrote on escaping a desperate situation.
Energy Management for Entrepreneurs
To properly manage your energy essentially means to:
- Prevent wasting energy needlessly
- Generate energy
- Invest energy for the highest return possible
Let me give you the practical steps you can take right now to prevent wasting, to generate, and to properly invest each of your five levels of energy.
As you take these steps, watch the depressive state gradually dissolve and give way to high energy and the joy of life that should come with entrepreneurship.
Managing Physical Energy
When under stress, it is very easy to slip into poor habits that deprive you of energy, making your situation increasingly more difficult and you more depressed.
By making a few simple changes, you can begin to generate physical energy which you can transmute into productivity, which will help you dissolve the depressed state.
Note: I am not giving any medical advice here. Please always talk to your doctor before trying any nutrition, therapeutic, or supplement plan.
Eat Like a High Performer
When I had my own crisis of body and mind back in 2008, I was totally clueless as to how to eat well. And this delayed my recovery for years. Here are some of the lessons I eventually had to learn.
The problem is probably not toxicity. This means that you probably shouldn’t get yourself on a bunch of cleansing protocols which are peddled all over the internet.
The issue is probably not pollution in your body. It is probably the depletion of nutrients and the resulting exhaustion of your systems, such as the endocrine system, the nervous system, and the others.
Therefore, the solution is not a colonic. But it is likely a nutrition plan rich in high quality proteins and fats, not so much carbs.
And the highest quality proteins and fats come from grass-fed and grass-finished animal products. My own nutrition plan has evolved over the years. Today, I try my best to stick to the moderate-carb ketogenic diet. I also do my best to eat only two meals a day.
I won’t give you a whole nutrition plan here because good sources of information on the topic are numerous. Here is a really good introductory video by Thomas Delauer, a keto diet expert:
Just remember that you can wean yourself off of high carbs in your diet slowly to make sure you don’t have major blood glucose drops during your transition, especially if you are highly stressed out and addicted to sugars and carbs.
Stop All Caffeine
I know this is hard to hear if you are in the habit of drinking coffee every day. If you rely on coffee or energy drinks to keep you functional, you can rest assured that is a major contributor to feeling tired and depressed.
I’ll keep this section brief because I wrote an article on the dangers of coffee and energy drinks that you can read here.
Just keep in mind that many drinks contain caffeine, not just coffee. Any kind of tea, such as black, white, green, or oolong, contains caffeine.
Many sodas, such as Coke and Pepsi, contain it.
Remember, caffeine drains your adrenals and deprives you of energy in the long run. So, the sooner you stop all caffeine, the better.
Use Quality Supplements, in Moderation
You probably don’t need a heap of different supplements. But a good, high quality multivitamin formula is essential. With an abundance of resources and supplements out there, I’ll share two I’ve continually used for energy and a general sense of well-being.
The best multivitamin formula I’ve come across is Super Adrenal Stress Formula by Dr. Wilson. It is very balanced, gives me real energy without stimulation, and can be used for years.
I have taken as much as two caplets a day, with breakfast and lunch, at times of high stress. And I only take half a caplet three times a week in times of peace, because it’s quite potent.
The other supplement that I’ve used on and off, but especially under high stress and when coming off of caffeine, has been Adrenal Rebuilder, also by Dr. Wilson. Just take as directed, between one and four caplets a day.
By the way, I’m not paid to mention or link to these supplements. I just know they work, so I recommend them.
You may benefit from other supplements, as well, but try not to overwhelm your system with substances. They interact in your body much like pharmaceuticals do.
I’ll mention just one herb that has helped me deal with anxiety and to sleep better, and that’s Valerian Root. You can make an infusion or take it in tablet form.
Exercise in Moderation
When your energy resources are depleted, which is likely the case, go easy on exercise.
- Don’t go for long runs or even long yoga sessions
- Don’t lift too heavy
- Don’t go high intensity
Why? Because exercise takes energy. And one or more of your systems is probably currently depleted. So, you need to nourish. Put in more than you expend.
That said, definitely exercise. But do so in moderation. When you talk to your personal trainer, mention your mental and emotional state, as well. If you are generally exhausted, definitely mention that.
Let your trainer or therapist help you design a moderate or light exercise program that will keep your body in a good shape without depleting your systems further.
This is especially true if you’re addicted to coffee.
Managing Mental Energy
You need your mental energy to think clearly, analyze situations, and make decisions. And when you take good care of your physical energy as described above, you’ll notice an improvement in your mental clarity and stamina.
Here are two things you can do to work on your mental energy directly.
Stop Leaking Your Mental Energy
The best way to begin improving your mental energy is to stop leaking it.
Unfortunately, when you worry about something, you focus your mental energy on something you cannot control, which is an imagined situation.
Worry is a major misuse of mental energy and focus. By diminishing worry, you release more mental energy for productive use. Dealing with worry is a whole topic in itself. So let me share two resources that will help you.
First, meditate. Just meditate. I discuss the five benefits of meditation of entrepreneurs in this article. When I meditate, I use the Calm app, which really helps and is highly recommended.
And second, if worry is really an issue, read Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Stop Living. I’ve been reading this book since I was a teenager, and it’s been life-changing. You can even listen to the audiobook, which is what I do nowadays.
Stand Guard at the Door of Your Mind
This heading is actually a statement Tony Robbins often quotes from his mentor Jim Rohn. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, it is very important with whom you associate.
Other people’s thoughts affect you. This is why it is very important with whom you live, make friends, and hang out.
If you have a negative person in your life, it is your responsibility to limit your interaction with that person, at least for the time you’re making efforts to turn things around.
Sometimes moving out, talking a lot less to someone, or even ending a relationship can be an important move in your life. Use your judgment, don’t be rash, and make some quality decisions about the people in your life. I’ve had to. So can you.
Managing Emotional Energy
As you make progress on your physical and mental energy, you’ll likely notice that your emotions have been improving. You likely won’t feel that depressed anymore.
In addition, meditation affects not only your mind but your emotions. That’s because meditation helps you cultivate witnessing. And witnessing your emotions is the first and the most important step in becoming a master of your emotional energy.
The ability to witness, or the “observing ego,” as Dr. Paul Dobransky would refer to it, is a critical skill that will help you not only manage and control your emotions but also to make quality decisions in real-time.
When someone irks you, gets under your skin, you have a choice to make. You can react or respond.
A reaction is immediate and automatic. Most of the time, it is a conditioned response that evokes a negative emotion. You can easily become angry, annoyed, or fearful.
A response is different because it involves a pause. According to Osho, Gurdjieff’s father gave only one deathbed advice to his son: “When someone creates anger in you, wait for 24 hours before you reply.”
There is a lot of wisdom in that. Because within 24 hours, your perspective on the situation, whether it’s an insult or criticism, will change. You’ll see the situation very differently. And you are much less likely to respond with anger.
When you practice meditation, you train the witness in you. And this witness can see the situation for what it is and help you produce a quality response.
You can now respond with compassion rather than with anger. And this is a “secret” key to managing your emotional energy.
Managing Sexual Energy
Managing your sexual energy is simple but not easy. It involves putting a stop on wasting your sexual energy every day or frequently.
For men, this means the practice of Semen Retention. For women, the practice of Brahmacharya is more complex. Here’s a good resource on sexual transmutation for women.
A man’s body takes a lot of energy to produce semen. So, by ejaculating every day, you not only waste a lot of your highly valuable creative energy, you also deplete your body’s resources that could otherwise be used to manifest outcomes.
Napoleon Hill talks about this phenomenon in Chapter 11 of his book Think and Grow Rich titled The Mystery of Sex Transmutation.
Semen retention and sexual transmutation are a vast topic, but let me give you a great resource. This short video is a great primer on semen retention. It is by Johnathan White, a teacher of Eastern sexual practices whom I trust and learn from:
Something important to understand about semen retention is that you don’t have to say No to sex or to never ejaculate again. Instead, you ejaculate a lot less frequently and use such eastern practices as Qi Gong to transmute the energy you store into the power to manifest reality.
Since your body will keep producing semen and creating a desire for sexual expression, this is actually an important latent resource.
If you have never practiced semen retention before, then all you have to do is begin this practice, and you’ll awaken to a very powerful source of energy that lay dormant until now.
So, if you feel totally exhausted and depleted, just giving your reproductive system a rest it probably deserves could be a great way for you to start accumulating energy.
When you find yourself in a very tough situation, this is a perfect opportunity to tap into your spiritual energy.
A spiritual connection to something beyond yourself that can guide you and help you transform reality can be established in two primary ways:
- Through consistent practice over time
- By a sudden epiphany or inspiration
The best way to begin is to meditate. A daily practice of meditation is the place to start, whether you want to establish a consistent practice or need an immediate answer.
And when you’re totally depleted and feel desperate and depressed, your spiritual energy can come to the rescue spontaneously.
I remember that happening to me when I was looking for a non-surgical way to heal my knee after an ACL tear. It seemed that the only solution available was surgery, according to the doctors and even to the internet.
But then, after months of searching and failing, during a walk in the park with a friend, I was all of a sudden hit with a thought, an inspiration, like a bolt of lightning.
It was a voice in my head that said, “Philip, you will heal your knee non-surgically very soon. The perfect solution is waiting for you.”
I got goosebumps at that moment. It felt like the Universe itself was talking to me. And you know what – the voice was right.
Within a few days, I found the right recovery method. Within a week or so, I flew out to a foreign country to get it. And three months later I achieved full recovery without surgery.
And you can get a similar result, as well. But in order for you to receive a perfect answer, I would urge you to have a daily meditation practice.
And if you really need answers quickly, or if you must make something happen now, then read this article I wrote about manifesting something overnight.
I hope this guide has been helpful and wish you abundant freedom, joy, and success!