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Mental Health for Entrepreneurs: Exploring the Benefits of Somatic Therapy for Well-being and Business 

Updated: Jul 8

Entrepreneurs suffer from a disproportionately high level of mental health challenges. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, found that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues, compared to just 48% of non-entrepreneurs. In addition, entrepreneurs reported experiencing more depression, ADHD, substance use, and bipolar disorder than the comparison participants. 


This data alone is quite compelling but let’s couple it with some more hard speaking statistics which speak to the broader issue of burnout and stress in high performing roles. Entrepreneurial burnout can lead to a 50% reduction in productivity Burnout is a major factor leading to the failure of 30% of new businesses. Up to 60% of entrepreneurs have reported that burnout has affected their mental health. 45% of entrepreneurs feel isolated which amplifies their burnout symptoms. 35% of entrepreneurs report that stress significantly impacts their physical health. 


The good news is that there are a number of somatic practices that can significantly help improve the above symptoms, reducing burnout, improving mental health and increasing productivity. As a somatic coach and therapist, I’ve devoted my life to learning the best practices and tools I can to help those I work with improve their lives. Somatic breathwork, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, yoga, somatic experiencing, breath sensing, active mindfulness, movement therapy, and Zen Leadership are among some of the primary  tools that have greatly improved the lives and well-being of my clients. From award winning entrepreneurs, to high-level executives, if you have a nervous system and are willing to put in the work, somatic therapy helps! 


Somatic coaching and somatic therapy can help entrepreneurs improve mental health
Somatic Therapy For Entrepreneurs

Pain Points of Founders 


Alright, so I could write on and on about the prevalence of the problem and the research that backs it up. In addition, there are many practices that can help. However, I don’t think it is particularly helpful. If you’re reading this article you’re either A) interested in the same problem or B) looking for help. If it’s the latter, and you’re a high-performer or founder, then you’ve come to the right place. 


If you’re a founder then you have a number of major challenges that you need to deal with on a daily basis. Not only are the day-to-day tasks burdensome, but there is constant worry and stress about acquiring funds, managing staff, building the company, maintaining the company, etc. The mental health of entrepreneurs is significantly impacted by these challenges they encounter and their potential mental health effects:


1.Financial Pressure 


Pain Point: Ensuring steady cash flow, managing investments, securing funding, and achieving profitability.


Mental Impact: High levels of stress, anxiety, and worry about financial stability and the potential for failure.


2. Work-Life Balance:


Pain Point: Juggling business demands with personal life, leading to long hours and limited downtime.


Mental Impact: Burnout, fatigue, strained personal relationships, and reduced overall life satisfaction.


3. Uncertainty and Risk:


Pain Point: Dealing with the inherent uncertainty of business outcomes, market fluctuations, and the risk of failure.


Mental Impact: Persistent anxiety, fear of failure, and difficulty in making decisions due to the high stakes involved.


4. Isolation (It’s lonely at the top):


Pain Point: Feeling isolated due to the unique pressures of running a business, often without a peer group to share experiences.


Mental Impact: Loneliness, depression, and a sense of isolation that can exacerbate stress and anxiety.


5. Responsibility Overload:


Pain Point: Bearing the weight of the business's success or failure, often leading to micromanagement and overwork.


Mental Impact: Overwhelm, constant worry, and difficulty delegating tasks, leading to increased stress.


6. Employee Management:


Pain Point: Hiring, training, and managing employees, addressing conflicts, and maintaining morale.


Mental Impact: Stress related to interpersonal conflicts, leadership challenges, and the pressure to maintain a positive work environment.


7. Market Competition:


Pain Point: Staying ahead of competitors, innovating, and adapting to market changes.


Mental Impact: Anxiety over staying relevant, the constant pressure to innovate, and fear of losing market share.


8. Personal Sacrifice:


Pain Point: Sacrificing personal time, hobbies, and sometimes health for the sake of the business.


Mental Impact: Reduced quality of life, potential for physical health issues, and emotional exhaustion.


9. Regulatory and Compliance Issues:


Pain Point: Navigating complex legal, regulatory, and compliance landscapes.


Mental Impact: Stress and anxiety over meeting legal requirements and the potential consequences of non-compliance.


10. Scaling Challenges:


Pain Point: Managing growth, scaling operations, and ensuring sustainable expansion.


Mental Impact: Stress related to resource management, maintaining quality, and handling increased complexity.


Addressing these pain points often requires a combination of effective stress management techniques, seeking support from mentors or peers, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Mental health support, such as therapy or counseling, can also be crucial in helping entrepreneurs navigate these challenges.


Why Does Somatic Coaching And Therapy Help with Mental Health for Entrepreneurs? 


To offer a bit of a crash course on stress, it is mostly physiological, NOT psychological. It makes sense, then, that if the problem is in the body, we should address it in the body right? Unfortunately, especially in the West, conventional talk therapy (which is top down) still predominates the mental health and wellness space. In addition, the medical establishment places a far too heavy emphasis on clinical diagnosis and medication which does not look at the entire person. It excludes their history, environmental context, diet, social support etc. and this greatly limits the effectiveness of care.


Somatic, body-based practices substantially improve mental and physical health
"The majority of our stress (long story short) is a physiological state that is generated and experienced in the body."

I have written extensively about this in my somatic therapy article and how we need much more than a top down, pathogenic approach to mental well-being and this starts by using our body. As it turns out, bottom up regulation through somatic practices is far more effective than talk therapy alone and can help reduce negative symptoms and greatly improve overall quality of life. In short, somatics much  more directly deals with the root issues in an efficient and optimized way. I am grateful to have combined all of my training and experience over the years into a unique and effective process which bridges the best of both the western and eastern approaches to holistic well-being. We will explore some case studies of its effectiveness later in the article. 


Key Somatic Practices and How they Help

 

Somatic therapy, coaching, and various practices can provide effective strategies to address the main pain points faced by entrepreneurs. I have seen firsthand how things like breathwork, progressive relaxation, gratitude, positive thinking, movement and other body-centered exercises have dramatically improved the lives of those I have worked with. Here's how they can help:


1. Financial Pressure


Somatic Therapy: Helps entrepreneurs manage stress and anxiety through body-based techniques, such as breathwork and mindfulness, reducing the physiological impact of financial stress.


Practices: Regular meditation, yoga, and physical exercise can reduce stress and promote mental clarity, improving decision-making under financial pressure.


2. Work-Life Balance


Somatic Therapy: Assists in recognizing physical signs of burnout and stress, encouraging better self-care and boundaries. 


Practices: Time management techniques, such as scheduling personal time and setting clear work hours, along with relaxation practices like tai chi or massage therapy. Gratitude exercises and self-compassion routines. 


3. Uncertainty and Risk


Somatic Therapy: Techniques like grounding exercises can help entrepreneurs stay present and reduce anxiety about the future. Mindfulness based CBT helps evaluate risk from a healthier perspective. 


Practices: Mindfulness meditation to stay focused on the present moment and reduce the stress of uncertainty. Other grounding techniques involving the body. Breathwork and yoga. 


4. Isolation


Somatic Therapy: Encourages connection with one's own body and emotions, fostering a sense of self-compassion and reducing feelings of loneliness. Increasing self-compassion and understanding which improves social and emotional intelligence. 


Practices: Engaging in community activities, hobbies, and social events outside of work to build a supportive network. Making more active commitments to building a social network. 


5. Responsibility Overload


Somatic Therapy: Body awareness practices can help entrepreneurs recognize when they are overworking and need to take breaks.


Practices: Regular breaks, vacations, and activities that promote relaxation and recharge, such as nature walks or creative hobbies. Breathwork, meditation and grounding exercises. 


6. Employee Management


Somatic Therapy: Helps manage stress responses during conflicts and improve emotional regulation. Increases empathy, compassion and social awareness which improves communication and collaboration. 


Practices: Regular team-building activities and open communication practices to foster a positive work environment. Active listening, one-on-one sessions, grounding and breathing techniques.


7. Market Competition


Somatic Therapy: Techniques to reduce anxiety and maintain focus, improving resilience in competitive environments.


Practices: Continuous learning and professional development to stay updated with market trends and enhance competitive skills. Breathing practices, gratitude and positive psychology exercises all proven to boost creativity and innovation. 


8. Personal Sacrifice


Somatic Therapy: Encourages self-awareness and self-care practices, helping entrepreneurs maintain personal well-being.


Practices: Engaging in hobbies, regular exercise, and ensuring adequate rest to balance personal and professional life.


9. Regulatory and Compliance Issues


Somatic Therapy: Stress reduction techniques to manage anxiety related to regulatory pressures.


Practices: Regularly scheduled reviews and updates on compliance, coupled with relaxation practices to manage stress. 


10. Scaling Challenges


Somatic Therapy: Techniques to manage stress and maintain physical and mental health during periods of growth.


Practices: Regular strategic reviews, mindfulness practices to maintain focus, and stress management techniques.


By integrating somatic therapy and various self-care practices, entrepreneurs can build resilience, improve their mental health, and effectively navigate the complexities of their professional lives. This has been shown (and is also my experience) that when the leader takes care of themselves, the entire team and business benefits.


Summary of Cases Studies 


Below are three (of many) case studies that exemplify the power of somatic coaching and therapy for improving the mental health and performance of high performers. Each of these were actual clients whose names have been altered for privacy reasons. 

Breathwork, somatics, and hypnotherapy can change your life

The Once Esteemed Entrepreneur - John


John came to me after exiting from a high stakes venture. He is an incredibly driven and talented founder who is bound to do great things in the world. However, when i met him he’d gone from a very publicly oriented, outspoken rock star, to a much more introverted and sullen person. Our work revolved around helping him find meaning and purpose in his life, get clear on his next steps and find a much better work life balance. The journey in total was about 6 months and one of the best turnarounds I’ve ever seen. When we began our work he was depressed, had low confidence, no direction and a real difficulty being in “limbo” as he tried to figure out his next steps. Long story short, we look at ALL of this through the lens of somatic coaching and explore his core values, beliefs, and triggers while also proactively regulating emotions, stress and states of being. This included breathwork, body-work, gratitude, posture and emotional alignment and regulation. In summary, by the end of our work he was far more connected with himself, had a greatly improved mindset and state of being, greatly increased relationship satisfaction with his family and friends and clear sense of his next steps. The last we spoke, he was moving into his next venture with an energy and positivity that was infectious. 


embodied leadership is required for a better future

The Frazzled Founder  - Meghan 


On the surface Meghan was a highly intelligent, driven and organized person. She was indeed a high achiever and had built a stable and profitable business. On the inside, she was extremely challenged. With a history of heavy trauma and having built her career in a volatile business environment, her emotional intelligence, stress management and emotional regulation were low and caused an enormous amount of problems in her personal and professional life. This case was challenging and we really had to start with the basics; grounding, regulation, and stability just so she could function better. Over the course of two years, we did some of the most transformative work I have ever done including breathwork, somatic hypnosis, somatic therapy, leadership coaching (yes here are some excellent somatic practices for leadership), communication, life purpose and deer level spiritual work. Towards the end of her journey she was a far more grounded, regulated, empathetic and compassionate person. She had much higher levels of self-care, greatly improved relationships, a marked improvement in leadership and she was able to start another business and founded a new mother group for her future ventures. Interestingly, she chose the name of her group as a direct consequence of the work we did together. Although this was a challenging client due to the complexities and depth of work we did, the results gave me profound confidence in somatic therapy and its ability to change and empower people if they are willing to do the work. 


The Highly Competent Lars 


Lars is a highly motivated and intelligent engineer, who moved into management. In particular his role was at the director level. During our time working together, he wanted to transition from one role in a company to a better role in another. To give the proper context he felt quite betrayed in the company he was currently in and felt it was time to move on. Our work included all the mental work around leaving a high paying role and venturing out into the job market. Not only did he want to leave his old role on good terms, he had the added stress of worrying about the next steps. We coupled together career coaching and somatic practices and created an action plan that was in alignment with what he really wanted. Various stress management, emotional management, and mindfulness practices were utilized in addition to helping him get a clear vision for his future. As a result, he got a director level position at a company he really aspired to work at. We continued our work together for 6 months after he was hired to improve his leadership presence, confidence, communication and ability to handle challenging situations. In fact, there were two “high-level” emergency situations that happened in that time and he directly attributed his ability to navigate them successfully to the coaching that we did. 


Conclusion 


Somatic coaching and therapy are excellent modalities with a unique set of practices which can substantially improve the mental health of founders. Not only can they directly support founder well-being, they can greatly assist in all aspects of entrepreneurship, career and business. Somatics is a promising approach to managing the personal  and professional challenges of high performing people and can act as a great holistic alternative to more conventional western approaches. 


Brad Reed is a somatic coach, therapist and breathwork expert

About Me 


Are you a leader, influencer, or high-performer seeking transformation through somatic therapy, wellness & performance coaching, or breathwork? My name is Brad Reed and with over 7 years of expertise and having positively impacted the lives of more than 10,000 individuals, I am here to guide you on your journey to peak performance and holistic health. My own path to healing—navigating severe physical and mental health challenges—led me across Asia, where I learned from Zen masters, healers, and global experts. This unique blend of Eastern wisdom and Western practices fuels my approach, aiming to foster profound, sustainable change for my clients. I have worked with dozens of high performing professionals, CEOs, and entrepreneurs in addition to training 1000s of mid-senior level managers at major MNCs including Bosch, Nike, Intel, Brooks, GIZ and more. Let’s embark on this journey together, crafting a path that resonates with your aspirations and challenges.


Reach out to explore how we can unlock your fullest potential.


Disclaimer: The above article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. It is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute psychological or medical professional advice. I don't diagnose medical conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.

If you already are under the care of a doctor or under medical treatment, follow the advice and treatment recommended by your doctor. For any medical emergency, please call relevant authorities. 



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