Sitting on the couch in your comfy clothes as you build your empire sounds great, right? Yes, until loneliness kicks in. Most entrepreneurs work by themselves for long periods often not seeing other people. Loneliness is one of the most significant struggles entrepreneurs and freelancers face. Loneliness leads to depression, stress, anxiety and can cause a range of mental illnesses.
Tips for dealing with loneliness as an entrepreneur
1. Expect it
If you expect it, you can plan for it, and it will not hit you as hard. It’s also important to keep in mind that you are not the only one dealing with it. This has the effect of reminding you that there is nothing wrong with you, that the loneliness you are feeling is not indicative of some deficiency in you or your personality. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone, that whatever you are struggling with is not unique to you.
2. Recognize the symptoms
The signs that you are dealing with loneliness are not standardized and people respond differently to it. For some people, it manifests as engaging in compulsive behaviours such as shopping or binge-watching TV while for others it may be altered sleep patterns such as oversleeping or insomnia. It’s important to know what behaviours indicate the onset of loneliness for you. Once, you see them, then you can act fast to alleviate it.
3. Find a community
Loneliness is a problem not just for entrepreneurs but is becoming a global epidemic. This means you are not alone. In many places, there are communities of freelancers and business owners who come together in person or online just to spend time together and share their stories and experiences. You can also join other types of clubs such as book clubs or a sports class that brings you in contact with other people.
4. Make time for family and friends
In the early days especially, most entrepreneurs put in long hours and dedicate themselves fully to the job. This can lead to minimal contact with others and minimal involvement in activities outside the business. This isolation can lead to loneliness.
Yes, startups require a lot of time and effort, but you can and should make time to appreciate your life and the people in it. There is so much more to life than the grind. What adds colour to life and makes it worth it is the people we love and those who love us. When all is said and done and contrary to what capitalist logic would have us believe- people matter.
5. Consider communal offices or a cafe
Communal offices or shared workspaces are places where entrepreneurs of varying business sizes go and work. In most of them, you rent out a desk or room and have shared spaces like break rooms and boardrooms. You can also choose to work in a coffee shop. Simply having other people around can make you feel less lonely as you go about your tasks.
6. Take zoom calls
Instead of sending emails back and forth, consider making zoom calls. It may feel like we’ve been doing too many zoom calls, but seeing a face once in a while can increase your energy and decrease feelings of loneliness.
7. Schedule time-off
Take a break from the cycle of working all day with no time off. Schedule your time and decide when the day is done, which can admittedly be difficult, especially in a startup. Make plans for after work. This will give you something to look forward to and will satisfy your craving for human contact and companionship. They don’t have to be big plans, even a walk with a friend will do.
Scheduling time off also helps you recharge and allows you to shift your focus from work, work, work, to friends and family or whatever other activity of your choice. Time off is essential to the creative process and problem solving and can even help you figure out solutions to problems you may be facing. Even when it’s crazy, regardless of how counterproductive it sounds, take a break, refocus and come back to it later. Working all hours is not sustainable anyway.
It’s okay to cry, not to mention it’s very cathartic. Check out: Mental and health benefits of crying
9. Get help
If you’re feeling really overwhelmed and feel you could use some external help, seek it. There’s no shame in it and certainly no glory in suffering alone. Loneliness is something everyone deals with at one point or another. We all occasionally need some extra help. Reach out for some counselling or therapy if you need it.