Depression is many things…
A vicious cycle. A complete lack of self-confidence. An addiction to negative thoughts. The hell of your own mind. The great “action killer”. A space where everything in your life seems completely broken and beyond repair.
How do I know?
Well, let’s just say I’ve been there. Many times…more than I’d like to admit. I struggled with depression for over 10 years starting in my high school years.
However, I also developed what I call emotional awareness long ago, which means that not only have I been through depression many times, but I’ve been able to step away and observe the process.
That means I’ve learned a TON from it. Let’s just call it a blessing and a curse.
Ok, screw it. It still feels like more of a curse. But anyway…
(And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads me to a perfect opportunity for a quick plug. This is just one of the things that makes my current journey where I’m starting a successful lifestyle business from nothing and battling depression along the way more interesting.)
Remember, the main topic here at Mindset Boss is, well, mindset. I think it should be pretty obvious how depression affects your mindset (or at least that it DOES affect your mindset at all), but just in case it’s not apparent, keep this in mind:
When you’re depressed, you are in a very negative state, and this has a big impact on just about everything in your life (including your business).
Put another way, David at Raptitude said:
“Remember that any visions you have of the future are going to look unreasonably bleak, any assessments you make are going to be distorted towards the negative.” – How to Keep Bad Moods From Taking Over
In this state, your creativity is muffled. You don’t come up with the good ideas that you normally would.
In this state, your ability to find opportunities is hampered. You feel like there are no opportunities and that you’re “stuck”.
In this state, your self-confidence is minimal. You feel like you’re not worthy and that “you’ll never get to where you want to be”.
In this state, everything seems completely broken beyond repair.
In this state, you have no patience. Everything you want, you need to have right away. There is no consideration for the PROCESS of getting what you want.
In a state like this, are we at our entrepreneurial best? Definitely not.
Can you see how this affects your success at being able to create and grow a business?
“Making business decisions when you’re anxious is like shopping for groceries when you’re starving — you end up with a ton of junk at the end of the day.” – Chase from Fizzle
As an entrepreneur, we definitely need to access all of our resources. We need to be at or close to our best in order to produce everything that’s necessary to build and grow a business.
However…this is also something that many of us will need to deal with at some point.
Did you know that depression is 4.5 times more common in entrepreneurs when compared to the entire United States adult population?
Although this isn’t a frequently talked about issue, it’s something that many, many entrepreneurs have to deal with, as you can see.
While most entrepreneurs keep quiet about this issue, Rand Fishkin of Moz is one of the few higher-profile entrepreneurs that has publicly talked about their struggle with depression. Check out that post — it’s a great read and illustration that you can overcome depression and be a badass entrepreneur.
What’s the difference between depression and a bad mood?
This is really important to understand!
In this guide, I’m mainly focusing on full-blown depression. Many of the tips will work for simple bad moods (in fact they all should, because bad moods aren’t as serious or hard to get out of)
The big key is this:
Depression (real depression) occurs as a result of you making some negative judgment about yourself. It feels much worse and it’s harder to break out of (because of the addiction aspect).
I’ll show you exactly how this works in the next section, but always remember the thing that sets depression apart is that it’s always related to some negative thought or feeling we have about ourselves.
Understanding Depression (and what does it have to do with movie trailers?)
I believe depression is one part addiction and one part natural human reason. After having gone through this process many times, I’ve had the “fortune” to be able to observe deeply what happens when we fall into depression.
Let’s look at the mechanics of how this happens — it’s an oddly fascinating interplay between the two factors I just mentioned:
(Note: This is where we go really deep. This may get a bit overwhelming, but please stick with me here!)
Factor #1: Addiction: Your mind becomes addicted to the negative feelings and they become a “comfort zone” of sorts. Even though it feels shitty, it feels welcoming and normal, so it’s very easy to retreat to that place — it’s very addictive.
Plus, when you’re in this place, you don’t have to work hard. It’s a very easy place to be, even though it’s very painful.
Factor #2: Reason: We humans are great at what I call “thinking ourselves into a box”. It’s how we reason and make decisions. We want to use reasoning to arrive at a decision which we can then stick to without having to reason again.
(Remember, we’re naturally lazy. Reasoning takes work. We want to think hard once, then submit the conclusion about we arrived at to memory. Then whenever we want, we can recall that conclusion without exerting mental effort.)
So what does this have to do with understanding depression? Keep reading — I’ll tie it together at the end, but you need to understand the whole process.
A great example that illustrates how we make decisions is sitting in a movie theater and watching the trailers.
During each trailer, we take the content in and decide whether or not it looks like a good movie and is worth watching when it comes out. In our minds, we categorize each movie into either the “Looks good, yes I want to go see it” or “No, that doesn’t look good, wouldn’t want to see it ” box.
This is just how we are wired — we want to make one rational decision about things rather than evaluate the decision every single time you think about it. We only recall the “yes, that looks good” or “no, it doesn’t” decision, and maybe a couple key scenes that looked interesting.
(In other words, we’ve “thought ourselves into a box” about each upcoming movie based on the preview.)
Here’s the process laid out:
- We take all of the information that is presented to us (the movie trailer).
- We consider everything and come up with a conclusion
- We submit that conclusion to memory and forget the rest
Here’s the catch: while this process is very convenient, this process of reasoning is part of what makes (and keeps) us depressed.
How? Well, in order to understand that, we need to look at how our emotions (especially emotional addictions) throw a wrench into this process.
In the example above, the three steps laid out were very logical and rational. But it’s missing something: our emotions.
As much as we humans would like to say that we’re completely logical beings, we’re not. Computers are completely logic driven. We are not, and emotions almost always play a role in our decision making.
So when we’re making decisions about ourselves (the root of depression is almost always something about you, even if it doesn’t seem like it), this process breaks down a couple ways:
- The reasoning process is often triggered by negative thoughts and feelings (so it’s kind of set up to fail in the first place).
- “All of the information that is presented to us” (from step 1 above) is VERY different from “All of the information.” We often don’t work off all of the true information (you’ll see why in a moment).
- As mentioned earlier, depression is very addictive, especially when there is already a negative thought present.
Back to the movie trailers…
Remember, in a movie trailer you are only shown a short preview (about two and a half minutes) out of the entire movie. The movie producers have filtered the entire movie (90 minutes or longer) to show you only the best parts, arranged in a way so they have the most impact.
Remember how I mentioned we don’t work off all of the true information available in our minds?
That’s right — our minds do the EXACT same thing when we’re evaluating things in our own life. We are only given the “movie trailer” version of the issue, and the trailer that we get depends on how that information has been filtered.
So now when something negative happens and our mind goes to make a new decision about whatever that issue is, we immediately spend a minute or two “thinking ourselves into a box” of the worst possible result.
And it seems totally logical because we’re taking into consideration what we think is “all” of the information available.
However, it’s not ALL of the information available…it’s just all of the BAD information. None of the positive, good information is actually considered because it wasn’t delivered to us in the “movie trailer”. That stuff doesn’t fit our depression’s agenda, so it’s tossed overboard.
Here’s how the process works, step-by-step (stick with me here):
- Something happens (usually something negative).
- Negative emotion or feeling is triggered as a result of the negative state we’re already in (depression).
- We decide that we need to make a decision about something – our self-worth, our situation, our future, whatever we’re pursuing, our goals, our dreams, whatever.
- At the same time, our mind is filtering all of the information down into a negative “movie trailer” of the situation. Any positive information is discarded because it doesn’t match the depressed state we’re in.
- We receive the negative movie trailer and use it to make our decision.
- We arrive at the conclusion of “I’ll never get what I want”, “I’ll never reach my goals”, “I’ll always be stuck/broke/whatever” etc.
- That conclusion sticks, plus it has powerful emotions attached to it, so now you feel even worse.
You see how that works? You might need to go through that a couple times, but the key takeaway is this:
When we’re depressed, our subconscious mind filters all of the information that we have to make a decision on and only delivers the bad stuff (the negative movie trailer).
(Quick side note here, to get away from the overwhelming negativity presented here. This process isn’t always this bleak, remember, this is what happens when we’re depressed. When we get ourselves out of this state, this process unfolds differently and with a much better result.)
Now, remember what I said about the other part of depression being addiction?
Here’s how our brains can set us up to fail:
- Like I mentioned above, we develop an addiction to feeling shitty, for whatever reason (it’s “easy”, it’s “comfortable”, it’s a place where you don’t have to step out of your comfort zone or conquer your fears, etc).
- Our brain goes out and reasons (through the process laid out above) WITH THE PURPOSE OF GETTING US BACK INTO THAT SHITTY FEELING. It’s like we WANT to end up in that place, so the reasoning process was “rigged” from the start.
This is why depression can be so tricky and tough to get out of sometimes.
At this point, you might be thinking “Damn it Mr. Negative, so how DO we break out of this cycle?”
The short answer to breaking this cycle is to get yourself into a better state in the first place. If you can get yourself to feel better about life (in our mindset terminology, this is what we call your “Outlook”). If you can improve your outlook, then the reasoning process won’t be rigged to lose in the first place, and you’ll set up a positive spiral instead of a negative spiral.
But that’s MUCH easier said than done. Trust me, I know. So what’s the long answer to that short answer?
Well that’s where the actual tips and techniques come into play. Keep reading to see all our tips and things that can help you break out of depression
12 Depression Ass-Kickers For Entrepreneurs
So now we’re getting into the actual things you can do to lift yourself out of a state of depression and get yourself back in the positive, powerful state that you need to be in in order to be effective as an entrepreneur.
But before we do that, I need to talk about something that’s very important. It’s a saying of mine, and it really helps us understand the real problem behind any negative state or problem we run into.
“The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is the way you FEEL about the problem.”
I know this one short line might seem simple very easy to discount, but really that’s the one principle behind ALL of this. The real issue with depression (and other less serious but also negative feelings) is the state that it puts you in, NOT whatever it is that you think you’re actually depressed about.
So keep this in mind at all times. Whenever you catch yourself feeling really bad about something, think of this phrase: “The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is the way you FEEL about the problem.”
I think we can all agree that just about any problem can be solved creatively, bypassed, sidestepped, or broken through with brute force if nothing else. (Come on, we’re entrepreneurs here damnit! This is what we do!)
But when we’re in a state of depression, none of those solutions will occur to us. Our mind is basically blocked from coming up with solutions. So what we need to focus on is NOT the problem and solving it, but getting ourselves out of that state so our mind will start working correctly again.
“You must come up with a system of strategies for pulling through periods of low motivation and use these strategies to force yourself to execute even when you don’t feel like it.”
– Ludvig Sunström, self-development expert and entrepreneur
As Ludvig says, it’s important to have a system and strategies to both prevent depression and get out of it when you’re in it. This post is a great read and he shares his own system for staying in a motivated state.
Now, let’s go ahead and look at the 12 things that we can do to either help avoid depression, or get out of it if we’re already there. These are going to range from small things, maybe a shift in thinking, to bigger things, like activities you can actually go out and do.
Let’s get started.
1. [Technique] Meditate
Yes, I said it: meditation.
I hear half of you groaning and see the other half nodding in agreement. I know, I know, this is a subject that a lot of people think of a waste of time and something for sissies.
But it’s actually something that can be enormously useful, both when you’re suffering with depression and when you’re not. It can be a powerful state-alterer, which is often exactly what you need to turn the corner and break the vicious cycle of depression outlined previously. Sometimes all you need is a little spark, and relaxing your mind for just a few moments is often enough to make all the difference.
For me, I’ve grown to love meditation because it gives you a chance to just let go and escape for a couple moments. (And, you don’t even have to go on any fancy trips or anything. All you have to do is close your eyes and relax.) When you meditate, you can give yourself permission to just let everything be, then when you come back, often things feel just a little bit better.
And it’s not some weird thing where you’re making strange noises or listening to people whisper words of confidence in your ear. (Although, if you’re into that, nothing against it!) I would summarize meditation, in my experience, as just relaxing for a little while and putting my worries on hold for a moment or two. Then, what usually happens after a couple minutes is a feeling of “good energy” rolls over me like a wave and I’m just in a different, better mood. That’s it.
Here are my brief keys to meditation:
- Don’t worry about fancy meditation techniques. Just relax and focus on your breathing. Optionally, you can also think about relaxing each of your body parts from head to toe and letting all the tension go if you need something to think about.
- Don’t worry about thinking about nothing. The purpose of meditation is NOT to think about nothing. It’s to get into a better, positive state and relax your mind. That’s it — nothing in that says that thinking about absolutely nothing for 10 minutes is mandatory. However, obviously we do need to get into a relaxed state, so minimizing the stressful, restless thoughts helps. I’ve found that if you just concentrate on breathing and relaxation, that’s all you need. If thoughts come and go, that’s completely OK. Hear them, but don’t interact with them.
Tip: If you’re having trouble not thinking about anything, change it up and actually start thinking about all of the things that are on your mind but actually “think them louder”. Like actually turn up the volume on your thoughts, and let them say what they want to say. I’ve found that after a minute or two, you’ll be done venting and then it’s actually much easier to calm your mind.
- How long should you meditate? As I said earlier, the point of meditation is to get into a better state, so as soon as you get into that state, you can technically stop. (However, sometimes you get into that state and it just feels so good you don’t want to stop yet — that’s OK! Go as long as you want to).
- Lastly, don’t beat yourself up about meditation. Sometimes we try to meditate but we just aren’t able to get into a good state. It just doesn’t seem to really “work”. That’s OK — it might happen sometimes. Just don’t worry about it and feel good that you tried at least. Better luck next time!
(I’ll probably make a longer no-BS guide to meditation soon, stay tuned for that!)
2. [Mindset Shift] Think about how far you’ve come (not how far you have to go still)
Instead of constantly thinking about how far away from your goals are, think about how far you’ve come instead (even though it might feel like you’re still at square one).
This is one that’s really easy to understand but much harder to actually do, especially as an entrepreneur because we’re always focused on the next goal and working to get to the next level.
The idea here is that if we’re constantly thinking about how far away we are from our next big goal, we’re almost never happy because we’re always thinking about things we haven’t accomplished and how to get there, and that’s stressful.
So if we can spend some time thinking about the opposite – how far we’ve come and things we’ve already conquered – then we feel much better.
However…I think the real issue here isn’t understanding this. It’s actually doing this.
I think the difficulty with this is the thinking that if we take our focus away from getting to that next goal, even for a moment, we’re losing time that we should be spending working on that goal. Or that we’re somehow going to become satisfied with where we are and lose the motivation to achieve the next goal.
But that’s just not true.
The short answer is that if you’re pursuing your goals for the right reasons and they are the “right” goals for you, then thinking about what you’ve achieved will naturally trigger motivation for achieving the next goal.
Why? Because just thinking about that last goal ignites the passion that you have for doing whatever you’re doing. And that fuels motivation. If it doesn’t…you’re probably going after the wrong goal.
The long answer is…
3. [Mindset Shift] Figure out why you’re delaying happiness
Here’s a question that might be easy to answer:
What things need to happen first in order for you to be come happy? Or, what are you waiting for before you’ll really be living the life you want?
Usually, we’ll list out our big, high-level goals. (Come on, be honest here. Even if you already know you shouldn’t be delaying happiness for your goals.)
Now, reverse this.
“Huh? What do you mean?” you say…
There are two really important realizations and mindset shifts that you need to make. There’s a good chance they’re either holding you back right now, or they’re preventing your happiness when you actually do achieve your goal.
Number One: Realize that most of us won’t ever reach our goals without being happy in the first place. Until you unlock happiness, the fact that you are unhappy is something that is holding you back. It’s not the driving force that we think it is (see number two for more explanation).
Being happy right now does NOT mean that you are satisfied with where are you are at. It just means you have more fuel in the tank that you can use towards achieving your goals.
Figuring this out right now isn’t just about feeling better…it’s about reaching your goals, too.
Number Two: YOU DO NOT HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO FEEL SHITTY BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE YET.
“OMG he’s yelling.” Yes I am. This is important so read that again. Let it sink in.
As entrepreneurs, we feel like it’s GOOD to feel BAD about not being where we want to be, because that somehow means that we’re driven and motivated to achieve it. Right? Sound familiar?
But this is actually couldn’t be further from the truth…think about how motivated you feel when you’re depressed, when you’re at your lowest. That’s not motivation…not for anything positive at least.
So if we can just get our heads around this fact and internalize this when we feel depressed about our current situation, it can be a huge help. (Either way, this is something you need to really understand and practice.)
Recommended Reading: Stop Trying To Be Happy by Mark Manson
4. [Technique] Practice Gratitude and Appreciation
If you’ve ever read any other tips on beating depression (or even anything else about personal growth) you’ve probably been waiting for me to say this one. You’ve heard just about every other expert mention gratitude as one of the best ways to break out of depression.
Well, I’m saying it too. Sure, it might sound cliche or it might sound stupid, but it works.
You don’t even have to take my word for it. Alex from Groove wrote a post called How Gratitude Has Made Me a Better Founder that’s worth taking a look at. (So is his journey — if you’re interested in SAAS at all, subscribe to his newsletter where they have shared their progress from $0 to $300k+ MRR.)
But here’s the key that most experts WON’T tell you: for many people, gratitude isn’t a quick fix.
“Huh? I thought all I had to do was think about a bunch of stuff I’m thankful for? What gives?” you say.
Well, you’re right. But the issue is this:
For many of us, the feeling of gratitude isn’t something we can conjure up just by thinking about it for a minute or two.
For example, when I spend a couple minutes thinking of three things I’m thankful for, I can identify those three things, but thinking about that stuff doesn’t really do much for me. It doesn’t really “work”…
Meaning: it doesn’t change my state. Whenever say to myself “Alright, let’s think of three things I’m grateful for”, I always seem to come up with the same three things. Or, I spend all of my energy trying to come up with three things, so by the time I come up with something different, I’m mentally worn out and just glad to be done.
Think about it this way. Let’s switch gears and pretend we’re trying to practice anger instead. (Which you would obviously never want to purposely do, but just to illustrate.)
I think most of us can easily create, on cue, the feeling of anger. The burning, boiling feeling inside. It’s pretty easy to do, right? Just think about the last thing that made you really mad. I bet if you spent 5 minutes focusing on that, plus other things that have made you mad, you’d be feeling pretty mad.
But many of us don’t have that equivalent for gratitude. We can’t conjure it up with a couple quick thoughts. So that’s why gratitude is easier said than done.
That said, it’s possible to create the foundation so gratitude is called just as easily as anger. All it takes is one simple shift in thinking:
Gratitude is NOT about identifying things you’re thankful for. It’s about spending a couple moments appreciating those things.
I think many of us (me included) think gratitude is about coming up with a couple things we’re thankful for, and then that’s basically it. But that doesn’t really do anything. You need to spend time thinking about all of the details that you appreciate about each thing you’re thankful for.
For example, let’s say you’re really thankful for a great cup of coffee you recently had…
Seems really simple, right? It is. But with just that one thing, there are a ton of different things you can appreciate:
The coffee shop that made it. (Or, your coffee machine.) The coffee beans. The farmers that grew the coffee beans. The expert roasting of the beans that went into your coffee. The processes and cooperation between people that allowed those coffee beans to be grown, harvested, processed, transported, blended, ground, prepared, and every other step along the way before it was delivered to you. The “invention” of coffee itself. The design on the physical coffee cup. The atmosphere in the coffee shop. The heat and warmth of the coffee. The smell of the coffee. The smell of coffee beans.
THAT is how gratitude actually works. Spend time appreciating all of the little factors, and you’ll feel a lot better than if you just identify a couple things you’re thankful for and move on.
Sound good? Cool.
Last thing worth noting:
If you struggle with gratitude like I did, just try it with ONE thing. Don’t go crazy trying to be grateful for five things at a time, just get it down a couple times and then you can expand
Recommended reading: How to Defeat Depression with a Simple Daily Practice by Paige Burkes
5. [Mindset Shift] Forgive Yourself
We get so mad at ourselves for being stuck in a depressed state. We’re very good at pushing ourselves to go faster, work harder, slay dragons, put out fires, constantly improve our business, etc… so when we hit a snag and fall into a negative state, it’s REALLY easy to beat ourselves up about it.
“Damn it, I’m supposed to be out there kicking butt and growing this business but I’m stuck here feeling shitty. Everything is broken, and there’s no way this will ever work. I need to be growing this thing but it just seems impossible. What was I thinking? I know I shouldn’t feel like this, but I just do.”
However…until you forgive yourself you’re actually chaining yourself to be stuck where you’re at. (Both depression-wise and business-wise.)
It’s the exact same principle at play when people talk about forgiving others: it’s not something you do for them, it’s something you do for yourself so you can move on.
You forgive people not for them, but for you because the anger or other emotions that you feel (and feel totally justified for feeling) are actually harming only one person: you. They’re holding you back, not them.
Right? I think we all get that. But the exact same concept comes into play with how we treat ourselves for being depressed. Using forgiveness as a tool to help pull yourself out of this situation involves two steps:
First: forgive yourself for being in the situation you are in. It’s ok — you can’t change the past.
Second: let go of the frustration you feel about being in this position because that frustration is what is is pushing you into depression (which is then, in turn, keeping you stuck — remember the cycle).
Remember: “The problem isn’t the problem, the problem is how you feel about the problem.”
In other words, the real problem isn’t whatever happened that you’re depressed about. The problem is the fact that you’re depressed and frustrated, because those feelings are preventing you from coming up with a solution.
(This also means that all you have to do is get rid of those feelings! That’s all you have to do, and then you’ll have a much easier time coming up with a solution.)
6. [Quick Hack] Postpone your worries.
Let’s be up front here: this is a technique that can be deceptively simple. It also might seem like complete BS that’ll never work.
Not the best way to introduce a useful technique, I know. However, it definitely does work sometimes, which is why it’s worth talking about. I’m not going to lie to you and say it will work every time, but it’s worth a try.
I came up this technique while I was in college. It was one of those crazy ideas that just kind of comes to you, and I thought there was no way it would work. But it actually did, which shocked me, so that’s pretty cool.
Like I said, it’s simple so here goes. When you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed, just say to yourself something like….
“All of these things that I’m worrying about are totally legit and worth worrying about and stressing over. I AM going to worry about them however I’m just going to postpone that worrying until tomorrow.”
- You can pick whatever time frame you want, could be longer or shorter
- You also need to actually do it, not just say it. Actually push the worry away in your mind.
- This doesn’t mean that you can’t address the situation, whatever the current situation is. It just means you’re going to postpone the depression you feel about the situation until later.
- For best results, once you’ve “postponed” your depression, commit to doing something that will change your mood — spend time with family or friends, watch something funny, or volunteer (see #8).
Again, yes it is simple. Yes, it seems like it could never work. But, sometimes that’s enough to help you get out of a depressed state.
(In reality, remember that everything will always be broken and messed up. That’s just life, and there’s nothing wrong with that and it doesn’t mean you can’t get what you want. Remember, it’s the way you FEEL about it that matters.)
Here’s the really cool thing: sometimes you’ll end up totally forgetting about the thing you should be worrying about and then realize that it was silly in the first place.
Oh, and do you want to know why this works?
Well, there are three keys at play here:
(1) Postponing your worries until later helps you shift into a better state, breaking the vicious cycle from the introduction (remember, once you’re out of the depressed state you’ll be much more likely to come up with a solution)
(2) Telling your mind that you will still worry about it, just later, satisfies the little nagging voice that tells us “hey, you HAVE to worry about that”
7. [Technique] Volunteer
Getting out and helping other people is a great way to put yourself to the side and focus on something else for a while. It’s something that shifts your state because you’re doing something that makes you feel good: helping others.
Looking at a different way, it can be a way to force you to do #7 above: postpone your worries. When you’re out actively helping people, your bothers aren’t on your mind. Plus, simply interacting with other people is another thing that can help pull you out of depression.
(And volunteering is a good thing to do anyway!)
How to do it. It’s best to do at least steps 1 and 2 proactively so there are less steps to take when you actually need it the most.
- Go to a site like Volunteer Match or search Google for volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Find volunteer opportunities that seem interesting. Make a list of 5-10 that you’d like to do.
- When you feel like you need it, go volunteer at one of the ones you found to be interesting!
- Bonus: Go ahead and sign up for some volunteer opportunities now and make it a habit to do one or two volunteer jobs each month.
8. [Mindset Shift] Don’t worry about fixing things
The key with depression is NOT fixing things.
We’ve already covered the mechanics of depression in great detail, but usually depression is triggered by feelings of things being broken, or “wrong”.
We’ll start off thinking “this is broken, that is broken, this other thing is broken, that other thing is broken” and so on, so we then start to get depressed or overwhelmed and our next thought is “all of those broken things need to be fixed so I can feel better”, which usually triggers feelings like “I’m so far from where I want to be because all of these things need to be fixed” which makes you feel worse. By this point you’re totally depressed.
Now think about this — what if all of those things actually were instantly fixed? Would you really feel all that much better? How long would it last?
I think for most of us, we wouldn’t instantly snap out of depression. We might feel better after a while because of all of those things that just got instantly fixed, but that’s the key: after a while. That shows that depression and the things you think are causing it are related, but not closely. Otherwise the depression would dissipate immediately.
(I’m talking about real depression here, where you have started to feel completely bad about yourself. When you’re kind of down and out about one specific thing, that’s not true depression. In that case, an instant fix to your problem might actually snap you out of the bad mood you’re in.)
This is also related to #4. Remember: you do not have an obligation to feel bad because you’re not where you want to be yet.
So the key here is to train yourself to just be OK with things being broken and not perfect all the time. (Hands up if you’re a perfectionist…yeah, that is playing into this. Just be aware of it. )
9. [Mindset Shift] Understand there’s nothing wrong with you
Related to above, stop looking at it as something that’s wrong with you.
I think a lot of times we feel like we’re “damaged goods” because we have this problem of depression that no one else seems to have. It feels like we’re defective, and not as good as everyone else because of it.
Instead, shift your thinking to just accept that it is a part of you. Accept that you struggle with depression from time to time, but it’s not a personal defect! It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person.
Think about it like this: “I’m just more passionate than everyone else, so when things bother me, that’s just the flip side of it”.
Remember, the problem isn’t the problem, the problem is how you FEEL about the problem.
Knowing yourself, accepting yourself, and planning around your own unique quirks and traits is really important, rather than trying to stuff yourself into the “I’m perfect” box. News flash: NO ONE fits into that box!
10. [Technique] Get out and exercise!
This is another one that you’ve probably heard from most sources of conventional advice. And it’s definitely worth doing, so this guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it!
Without going into all of the biological reasons (endorphins and whatnot), let’s just say that exercise is super-powerful for changing your state and making you feel better. That’s exactly what you need when you’re feeling down: to change your state. (This helps break out of the cycle mentioned above.)
So here’s what you need to know about exercise:
- Make exercise a part of your daily or weekly routine. At least 4 or 5 times a week (even if it’s just a walk).
- Do NOT allow yourself to skip workouts. Don’t think “I’ll just use that hour that’s scheduled for the gym today to get more work done.” You need to be consistent with it, and it’s not an activity that can be substituted for work.
- Start small when you need to. When you’re feeling really down, sometimes it’s hard to get up the energy to go to the gym (even though you know you’ll feel better after). If this happens, start really small. Just get yourself to the gym. Forget about what you had in mind to do when you get there and just go do whatever looks fun. Maybe you were planning on lifting weights, but everything just seems so “heavy”. Go for a run or walk instead. Whatever gets you moving is what’s going to help.
- Do something you enjoy. Not into exercise? Or don’t really care too much about working out? Just do something you enjoy that gets you moving. Running, walking, swimming, rollerblading, biking, sports, martial arts, anything!
11. [Mindset Shift] Reframe it
One of the most important things in entrepreneurship is to be able to put up with a lot of crap because there will be stress and down times, to go along with the highs and great times.
Neil Patel even says that stress is good for entrepreneurs. While that’s not necessarily referencing depression, I think that’s a fantastic way to reframe something that’s seen as negative into something positive.
When you can reframe the way you view something into a positive, that makes you feel better about what the problem is (“stress” in this case). Then, simply by feeling better about the problem makes the problem itself better (whatever you’re stressed about).
(Remember, the problem isn’t the problem. The problem is how you FEEL about the problem.)
So look at dealing with depression as being able to handle a lot of negative crap, and if you can handle that, you can handle anything.
This depression is training for you. Think about it that way. It’ll make you a better entrepreneur once you come out the other side. And you will!
12. [Technique] Work on two projects at once
A bit controversial, I know. Many experts recommend starting only one business at a time so you can focus and you won’t get spread too thin.
But for some people, I actually recommend having a couple irons in the fire not because it’s good for trying different ideas out at the same time to see which one performs best (which is good) but also because it helps spread out your emotional investment when you’re just getting started.
(Obviously, if you already have a business that’s cranking and taking up a lot of your time, this tip doesn’t really apply quite as much. However, if you are still struggling with depression at times, it could be worth starting a side project, if nothing else than for the fact that we love starting new ventures!)
If one project isn’t going as well, the other one might be. That will give you something to keep your spirits up until the other one starts picking up.
If you need to shut one down, then it’s much easier because you already have one that’s working.
And hey, maybe they’ll both work out. Then you now have TWO working businesses…great problem to have!
Note: If you’re currently working at a job right now but you WANT to become an entrepreneur, then think about your job as one project and your business as another. This gives you something else to work on and think about. Plus, if you hate your job (or hate the concept of a job) then this is a much better way to look at it: a project alongside your business versus the only thing you do.
None of this is intended as medical advice. If you need help, there are people waiting for your call, both friends and professionals:
1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)If you’re outside of the US, please click here for a list of international hotlines.