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5 Unconventional Ways to Run a Business with Depression

Starting a business is hard.  Starting a business while you also have chronic depression?  Is even more difficult. But it's not impossible.  I dealt with depression for several years and starting businesses has always been the thing that makes me happy. And over the years, I've figured out some unconventional tricks for how to run your business in spite of depression.  Here are 5 unconventional ways to run a business with depression.


Starting a business is hard.  Starting a business while you also have chronic depression?  Is even more difficult. But it’s not impossible.  I dealt with depression for several years and starting businesses has always been the thing that makes me happy. And over the years, I’ve figured out some unconventional tricks for how to run your business in spite of depression.  Here are 5 unconventional ways to run a business with depression.

Life update: It’s been a couple years since I first wrote this post and I’m no longer depressed.  I’m actually really, really happy now.  As with business, things get better when you start taking action toward your goals. 🙂  If you’re suffering from depression, please check out my mental health blog Resilient for tips on how to find happiness again.  Start taking baby steps.  You can do this.


5 Unconventional Ways to Run a Business with Depression

Just keep in mind that you have to be gentle with yourself. You’re going to face more challenges than the average entrepreneur, but that just means you have more reason to never give up.

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucius


1. Only Work When You Feel Like It

This might sound like bad advice, but if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, it definitely helps. I used to feel really guilty anytime I wasn’t working, but then I realized I could be so much more productive if I worked when I was doing well and took breaks when I was down. I love working, so self-discipline and getting things done has never been an issue for me, but make sure you actually do the work at some point. 😉


2. Take “Reading Days”

If I ever wake up and there’s a giant rain cloud hanging over my head, I let myself take a reading day. So instead of doing stressful work, I do something fun or relaxing and spend most of the day reading up on business and marketing. These are also great days to catch up on all your entrepreneurial learning and getting inspired (so you can work more on the good days :)).


Recommended Reading:


3. Stop Doing What Stresses You Out

Some people will tell you that entrepreneurship is really hard and you have to do things you don’t want to do. And while that’s true in some cases, let me remind you that this is YOUR business and you didn’t get into this gig so you can follow a new rulebook that you’ve set out for yourself. This is your life and your business and you make all the rules – so if there’s something that really stresses you out, either outsource or eliminate it.  Do it, delegate it, or delete it, as they say.

For me, one of these things was scheduling social media. Even though it only took an hour or two each week, for whatever reason it was just really stressful and not fun. So I looked into options for automation tools and found that by upgrading to Post Planner, I could automatically schedule my messages for Facebook, Twitter, etc all at once and create a library of evergreen updates over time that would get recycled and sent out again.  The bigger your library of updates gets, the less repetition there is. 🙂  I’m also head-over-heels in love with BoardBooster for completely automating my Pinterest pinning!  I actually pin around 100 times a day on Pinterest but I don’t have to lift a finger now. 😉

If you’d like to learn more ways to improve your productivity as an entrepreneur and automate, simplify, and streamline your business, check out Entrepreneur Life Hacks.


4. Watch More Movies and TV

I’ll admit it – I really don’t like tv and traditional cable. But with sites like Netflix, I can choose which shows I want to watch and when with no commercials. Part of why media is so mind-numbing is all the commercials and advertisements, but if you can avoid that then watching a trashy reality show every now and then is a great way to take a break from all the logical business thoughts and think outside the box. My favorite vice? The Bachelorette. Watching a love story unfold just makes me so much happier and keeps the depression at bay (just make sure you don’t fall into comparisonitis!).


Favorite Happy Shows:


5. Stop looking at your goals

This one might really ruffle your feathers. If the thought that you are still very far from your goals stresses you out or depresses you, STOP LOOKING AT YOUR GOALS! Life is supposed to be fun. Setting goals is supposed to be fun and a way to challenge you to achieve more than you could have otherwise. But it’s not supposed to make you feel bad because you haven’t reached them yet. So if looking at your goals makes you feel guilty at how far you still have to go, just take a moment to be grateful for the present moment and look at how far you’ve already come. You will get there one day. 🙂


Do you struggle with depression and also run a business? How have you managed it so far? Let me know in the comments!


If you’d like some encouragement as an entrepreneur for those days when you feel like giving up, check out our ebook Encouragement for Entrepreneurs.  It’s a collection of inspirational posts from our blog to get you motivated and inspired in your business. 🙂

Encouragement for Entrepreneurs

5 Unconventional Ways to Run a Business with Depression

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16 Responses to 5 Unconventional Ways to Run a Business with Depression

  1. Thanks for being so brave Katie, its so refreshing to see someone say how it REALLY is rather than the filtered version.

    I have CFS, endometriosis, depression and anxiety, all of which may come and play at any give time.

    I now work for 3 hours a day and no more, and have set habits that I meditate daily, move my body in whatever way I am able to that day, and i look after myself by eating well, filling the creative pool, and stepping back when I need to. It doenst always work but it helps.

    You rock xxx

  2. These are some really valid points. I have depression and anxiety so stressing about work is not an option, I take a step back and take some time to read or rest.

  3. Hey Katie. Thanks for sharing! I too suffer from depression, nowhere near as badly as I did when I had a ‘regular’ job though (I think that was part of the problem ;)).
    What helps for me is being honest about what’s going on – so I was meant to do a podcast interview last month but got ill and rather than struggling through with it and sounding all flat and shitty in the interview I just said ‘can I reschedule, I’m depressed’ and LO! the world didn’t end. I also blog quite extensively about my illness.
    I definitely agree that we need to give ourselves permission to take time off if we’re not well – for me that was one of the reasons I went self-employed, so I could have the freedom to decide my own hours and fit this around my life (not the other way round).

    • Haha totally understand some of the depression being caused by having a regular job. 🙂 I have had some interesting minimum wage jobs that really just made my depression worse. I love the freedom of being self-employed.

  4. I absolutely love this. Your post really made me feel a bit less guilty. I have a lot of days where I’m feeling off then on then off then on then off again. It is really frustrating and energy draining. My blog that I JUST started is definitely suffering from it. Hopefully I will get on the right track again soon.

    Great post! I will keep coming back to it when I need to feel less guilty for sure. <3 Thank you.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this. I struggle with depression and anxiety and I always wondered if it was still possible to start an online business with these issues.

    So it’s great to see someone who is doing it, and it’s nice to see the tips you have for someone like me, who is just starting out in the online business world.

    These tips have been really helpful, and I’ll be bookmarking this page to refer back to every now and again. 🙂

    Thanks again, and all the best!

  6. I really enjoyed this post 🙂 I feel a lot better. I’ve been doing this lately as I’m going through difficult time at the moment. Reading is what I love doing when I feel depressed, HECK! even while watching TV 🙂 I makes me feel better and yes, it really helps. Thank you for this 🙂

  7. Wow I just came across your post on Pinterest and this is exactly what I needed to hear! I have depression and struggle to stay focused on creating and writing some days, instead choosing to dwell on my weaknesses and shortcomings. I love that you suggests day to just learn and read, this definitely takes a lot of stress out of planning my work week. Thanks for the inspiration!

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