Many of us fall into the trap: “I’ll be my own boss,” we say “and I’ll have all the freedom I crave”. Then we discover that as bosses, we’re harder on ourselves than any employer we’ve ever had. We work longer hours, struggle with stress – and all too often – as I myself found, we turn to substance abuse.

As a high-powered sales executive, I was writing my own pay check, but I was also abusing substances. After a ten year battle, I achieved freedom from addiction. What should I do next? I decided that my new mission in life would be to help others who were going through the addiction problems that I had finally overcome.

Best Drug Rehabilitation: my mission

I wanted to help in the best way possible so that other people would have an easier route to overcoming addiction than the battle that I had to go through. What could be better name for my new business than ‘Best Drug Rehabilitation’?

But I knew that I’d have to approach this new challenge with the right personal mind-set. I decided that the best way to overcome the stress of being an entrepreneur was to become my own employee. Not the ‘boss’, not the business owner, but an employee of an entity that I would be able to separate from my personal life.

Your business is healthier when you are an ‘employee’ – and so are you

My business is actually doing better thanks to my adoption of this concept. I don’t run the day-to-day aspects of the business. My focus is on strategy, and my ‘employee’ mind-set makes me more open to fresh ideas, more able to delegate tasks and less likely to micro-manage. This places me in a better position to grow my operation.

As for stress, being able to recognise that you and your business are not a single entity gives you the freedom to relax, just as any employee does, when the workday is over. And if you want some time out, your business runs itself smoothly.

Ultimately, it’s the stress that causes business people to become dependent on substances to let off steam. I’ve seen it countless times, and I’ve helped many entrepreneurs who have ended up in deep water as a result of alcohol or drug abuse.

How do you know if you’re in the danger zone?

Knowing that you’re in danger of developing a stress-related addiction is way better than having to go through rehabilitation to undo damage. What danger signs should you look out for? How much stress is too much?

  • You tend to overreact: As far as you’re concerned, everything’s a big deal and things that really are a big deal are not only ‘big’ but ‘enormous’. You seem to spend your life bouncing from one stressful situation to another.
  • You have irrational worries: You daren’t leave your business to itself for a moment. When people tell you need a break, you say that you can’t possibly consider it right now. If they ask why, you can’t actually say what’s worrying you. You’re 1.5% off budget. Your accountant says you don’t need to worry, but you do. You know all this is irrational, but you can’t help yourself.
  • You’re exhausted all the time: And you can’t sleep properly. You wake up at night with your mind racing and can’t get back to sleep. Even if you sleep through, you wake up feeling tired. You’re living on sheer nervous energy and keeping yourself going with caffeine or worse.
  • Your heart races and you feel jittery: Every time you so much as think about your business, your heart starts racing. And once you’re at work, you have a sense of impending doom. Any minute now, all hell is going to break loose – at least, that’s what it feels like.

These are the classic signs of someone who is so stressed that they’re on the verge of burnout. You need to address your stress. There is no way that you are functioning at your best. Even if you’re not yet turning to substances to help you relax or get you to sleep at night, you need help and you have to make some changes. No human being can sustain your stress level indefinitely. Something is going to give.

And if you’re already self-medicating, you’re on the slippery slope. The drugs or alcohol that you use make you feel better for a little while, but they’re actually placing your body and mind under worse stress than ever. When you feel this happening, you think you have the answer: more pills, potions, drugs or alcohol. It’s a vicious circle and it’s time you got help!