Daphne Grech Cumbo / LinkedIn

Corporate Wellness Trainer Daphne Grech Cumbo on Wednesday emphasised that business leaders, especially Founders, must not overload themselves at the detriment of their wellbeing.

Starting a business is fascinating and exciting, presenting the entrepreneur with a range of opportunities while also being their own boss.

However, the initial excitement may get offset by worries about productivity, regulation, morale, and staff, among many other things. All of these factors can take a toll on a Founder’s mental wellbeing.

Data from the 7th edition of the Startup Snapshot shows that 72 per cent of Founders report that the start-up grind has had an impact on their mental health, with many reporting cases of high stress, anxiety, and burnout, with others also claiming to be depressed and suffering from panic attacks.

Ms Grech Cumbo, who has various years of experience in business coaching, having worked at UP for more than seven years as well as being Manager at international coaching organisation Vistage Malta, said that despite these difficulties, many of them would still “do it all over again”, as starting a business is practically “always worthwhile”.

However, she questioned whether it is worth sacrificing one’s mental sanity in the process, and also asked if it is possible to strike a balance between being a business leader and prioritising one’s mental health.

To better explain this, she used a simple analogy: “I always believed there was no point in having a cake without eating it. However, eating a whole cake at once will cause indigestion, but strategically consuming it over time in manageable portions is doable.”

Ms Grech Cumbo said that the main difficulty Founders tend to face is that they feel that dividing the cake (the workload) is “not possible”. Founders often feel that the cake “must be eaten in its entirety and then deal with the consequences”.

She remarked that even though there is a “strong element of truth” in this sentiment, there are also various ways of offsetting or minimising such consequences.

Returning to the cake analogy, she said that an effective strategy would be to up one’s exercise beforehand or to hold back from consuming other meals during the day. “Complementing it with adequate rest for digestion and timing it for when you can access that downtime is also helpful,” she continued.

Ms Grech Cumbo then proceeded to list three key ways for start-up Founders or employees to effectively support their mental health.

Firstly, prevention needs to be prioritised over cure. “Making time for your wellbeing is the most important thing to do at that time. Consistent care builds you up to prevent and endure worse situations,” she explained.

She added that it is also vital to act on choice rather than fear. Founders tend to struggle with the fear of missing out (FOMO), and this can lead to unhappiness or burnout.

“Take decisions based on choice and look at the long-term effect instead,” she pointed out.

Ms Grech Cumbo also suggested reaching out to someone for an objective point of view. She highlighted that there is a “lot of value” in talking to someone with a completely unbiased view that is out of one’s business space. These individuals can help Founders “connect the dots” and look after themselves in a “practical way” that can even help the business.

“Remember, there is no business without you in it,” she stressed.

Featured Image:

Corporate Wellness Trainer Daphne Grech Cumbo / LinkedIn

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