Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 takes place next week. Mental health should also be an essential thing for every entrepreneur. I’ve decided to write a series of articles about keeping mental balance, dealing with stress and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
I had the chance to talk with Dan Sainsbury, who is a therapist and transformational psychologist based in Surrey, serving private and corporate clients globally. His processes and techniques and insights are well-known in solving psychological issues quickly and effectively.
Hi Dan, thank for taking part in this interview.
Do you think people should focus on their mental health? If so, why?
Yes, 100%. Everything starts with mental health, with the mind. When you are feeling shot or frazzled or all over the place you’re in a place of fragmented powerlessness. You can’t much do anything.
When the mind is happy, vibrant, powerful, well, you are capable of producing, creating and achieving extraordinary things.
So knowing how to maintain peak mental health IS the most foundational thing you can do. The mind is everything.
What is now the most significant mental health issue for entrepreneurs?
In the ones I work with it’s:
- Overwhelm, which includes not knowing the next best action and getting lost in minutiae
- Letting a bad event affect their mood for too long and bringing that mood home
More generally it’s probably the cult of working 12+ hours a day leading to a loss of perspective and high levels of stress. Stress at very high levels produces a cascade of neurotoxins which have damaging effects on the brain and body, so finding ways to remain equanimous REGARDLESS of events is key.
Being purposeful and deliberate about having a crystal-clear Vision of what the perfect outcome of your company is and grounding that Vision in helping as many people as possible will make the work feel highly rewarding, rather than just slogging for the sake of it. Having a benevolent Vision in this way, and working toward it intelligently, definitely contributes to great mental health.
You don’t want to be all screeching tires and smoke and not going anywhere, being busy as some kind of self-congratulatory badge. Busyness is not the same as a business!
Why do more young people have mental health problems?
It’s likely due to alienation because of the tech age we live in. In one way we are highly connected but it’s healthiest is to spend physical time with others, leaving the screens as often as possible.
Another cause is the increased levels of narcissism in this self-obsessed Instaculture, where it’s all about presenting a facade of happiness and good times rather than tending to the heart, mind and Soul. In other words, seeking all these outer stimulants and plaudits and ‘likes’ from others rather than knowing what makes one truly happy. Short-term pleasure-hits versus deep lasting joy.
Tied in with this is the obsession with having a perfect physique, amplified by the airbrushed/nip-n-tuck Instaratti. Falling short of this supposed perfection causes deep malaise. Essentially, looking in all the wrong places for happiness.
So how to deal with the stress?
Firstly, ask yourself where the stress is coming from?
Totally outside you (eg boss, noise etc) or inside too (are you generally anxious or panicky as an individual – in which case you can learn how to heal your INTERNAL environment)?
If it’s EXTERNAL, what would it look like if you took total leadership of the situation? What would you do if you were wholly proactive in solving the situation? What can you do to make your environment completely set up to perform and produce vibrantly well?
If it’s INTERNAL, then pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and the fiction they together come up with, you know, the catastrophization eg I’m going to be sacked at this rate | I’m going to be shouted at etc etc
One way to do this, to heal your internal environment is to do the following:
- Check in with yourself and see what negative feeling is there.
- Let the feeling be there and use the inbreath to breathe it into the Heart.
- Hold it there for 2 seconds then let it go on the outbreath.
- Repeat 1-3 with what remains of the feeling or for any new negative feeling.
When you CLEAR yourself in this way, myriad things happen including resetting yourself back into calm vibrancy.
How to keep a work-life balance?
Think of your work more as PROJECTS rather than as unceasing linearity of 9-5s or whatever your working day is.
Take each project and then run one of my Advanced Psychology of success principles through it:
What is the perfect outcome of the project?
What is the perfect way to ensure that outcome happens?
What’s the perfect thing I can do right now to ensure it happens?
Sit with the questions and let the answers come.
This has the great effect of CUTTING RIGHT THROUGH unnecessary, flatulent minutiae to going just for the big notes. Begin at the end, sure. But better to begin at the Perfect Outcome.
What also helps with work-life balance is LOVING WORK. If you don’t love work find a reason to love it. Or find a job you love.
One of the big issues today is anxiety. How to help yourself and deal with it?
There are multiple ways to deal with anxiety.
First, use what I refer to as a “clearing” technique which I explain below.
States like anxiety, whilst feeling real and definite, are actually more like clouds temporarily blocking the ever-present Sun, where the Sun is your awareness. When you have anxiety you also have an awareness of the anxiety, which must mean it is not who and what you are. You are the Awareness.
The way to clear anxiety is to use the following process:
- Let the feeling be there.
- Let it come up the body on the inbreath into the Heart, hold it there for 2 seconds.
- Let it go on the outbreath.
- Repeat with what remains of the feeling or with whichever negative feeling is there.
Another way to heal anxiety is frequent meditation, say 2-5 mins per hour. Simple watching of the inbreath coming all the way in and relaxing on the outbreath works well. The way to do this is, each and every time you are distracted by thoughts and feelings is to come back to the inbreath and stay watching it.
There’s a nutritional aspect too. Ensure your diet is good, and avoid toxins and too many stimulants.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who work extremely hard?
Stay happy, healthy, vibrant. Focus on excellent nutrition eg invest in a Nutribullet. Stay mentally very well.
Use the above Psychology of Success Principle.
Also, why are you doing this? If you’re basing your entire happiness on the business, that may be risky. So stay sane by having variation in your life: friends, lover, exercise, books etc.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 is body image. Body image issues can affect us all at any age but particularly young people. What advice would you give them to overcome this issue?
Just be healthy. You don’t need a perfect pec or a perfectly chiselled thigh.
Work on your Soul. The Soul emits a Light that is the most beautiful thing of all.
Thank you for the interview, Dan. It was a pleasure talking to you.