Showing up for yourself

Showing up for yourself

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

Contributors:

Sara Ericsson

Entrepreneurship and hustle are two words that go hand in hand, for many reasons. It takes hard work and long hours to build something out of nothing and to take an idea and transform it into a business. It’s a process that demands a certain determination, grit and, well, hustle.

But that hustle can often — if not always — come with a side of burn out. And while there are some who’d make a case for this just being a part of the process, there are many who have moved beyond this way of thinking to prioritize their mental health above all else.

Life Out Loud Founder and self-employed Entrepreneur Martina Kelades says it boils down to this: you and your business are not one and the same. You have an identity outside of your company, whether you know it or not, and it will always be with you, whether your business is or is not.

“I am Martina Kelades the Founder, but first and foremost I am Martina. My business is not the full me, so if I’m not showing up for myself, there is no business at the end of the day,” she says.

“As entrepreneurs, we feel we have to be accessible all the time — that we have to hustle to get the work and not lose it, but at what expense? There are sacrifices we make as entrepreneurs and we often don’t realize how big they are, or what detriment they have to our health.”

Don’t let guilt keep you from setting boundaries

After experiencing total burnout following a 10-year career, Kelades founded Life Out Loud to facilitate conversations in professional settings about wellness and prioritizing mental health. And as her business gained momentum and was called upon for supports as the COVID-19 pandemic picked up speed, a new phase of burnout began. She says this felt tough to navigate, as an entrepreneur with a business built on mindfulness.

“It felt great to be able to lend my services, but one of the reasons why I burned out in my previous career was because as a personal development facilitator, I focused time and energy on serving others and forgot to take care of myself,” she says.

Kelades says that for her and her fellow entrepreneurs, it can be hard to notice how much you are missing until you take time to unplug. That when you’re in a business mindset and in the midst of a steady workflow, it can be very easy to stop checking in with yourself to see how you’re doing.

“Every entrepreneur is susceptible to mental health challenges, no matter the industry,” she says. “I have mental health challenges myself and have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and working in this field through the pandemic has really taken a toll on my mental health. And I’ve noticed, due to the field I work in, that everyone around me is also feeling an impact on their mental health.”

So how do people in the business community start prioritizing their mental health, while continuing to show up for their business? Kelades says it’s about giving yourself permission to set boundaries to protect one’s mental health and wellness. That, and knowing that your own health is essential to being able to give your business everything you’ve got.

“Guilt is a big factor in why many entrepreneurs don’t take that time,” says Kelades. “I facilitate a workshop around entrepreneurs’ well-being titled ‘Mind Your Business,’ which examines what we are doing for our self-care. This has to be part of the business model,” she says. “No one is getting an award for NOT taking time off, but you will be rewarded if you do.”

‘Invest in mental health’ now, not later

Colleen Adams works at Medavie Blue Cross as the Manager of Health and Digital Product Solutions. She says that while everyone is prone to burnout and stress, entrepreneurs are likely more prone to it than most, with fewer people in their business to rely on meaning when they aren’t fully engaged at work, it can have a tenfold impact on their business.

She says that with the advent of COVID-19 shadow pandemic, the toll it has taken on mental health, it’s essential that health plan members, whether with Medavie Blue Cross or otherwise, have access to options that work for them.

Adams says that with barriers to accessing mental health support services including financial cost, physical access and time, her team determined that a solution was needed. That solution came as Medavie Blue Cross created Connected Care, which now directly links Medavie Blue Cross members to digital and virtual mental health supports that fit their budget and schedule. These supports exist on their partner sites, which include Mind Beacon.

“Mental health services were hard to access early in the pandemic, especially during lockdowns. Now, our members can select who they want to talk to, and when they want to talk to them. It’s about opening up modalities to care, eliminating wait lists and removing barriers,” says Adams.

She says that while some remain hesitant to talk openly about or check in on their mental health, conversations on the subject in Canada are getting better, with today’s Generation Z and Millennial workforce members accessing mental health plan supports more than any generation preceding them.

“For Gen Z, our youngest demographic, counselling is the number-one most utilized extended health care benefit in this group. For millennials, it’s number two. As you get older, it doesn’t even hit the top five,” says Adams. “It’s about building mindfulness into your day-to-day routine and … getting ahead of anxiety and stress before it becomes a bigger issue. To the entrepreneurs out there, please check your benefits plan and see what you have covered — invest in your mental health and take care of yourself now.”

‘Achieving inner peace is the new success’

Nature Folk Wellness Studio Co-Founder Ashley Cluett says the natural ebbs and flows of business can take a serious toll on any person’s mental health. She says she expects this is even more the case for entrepreneurs, once again due to how fully integrated they are with their work.

“Learning where the business stops and you start can be super challenging,” she says. “This is especially tough for people already predisposed to things like imposter syndrome, anxiety, and perfectionism. Interestingly, I think the above traits tend to exist in most complex thinkers, creatives and highly motivated people, and these tend to be the exact people that are pushed toward entrepreneurship.”

Finding a way to engage with community and offer it a space where people could quickly and easily access wellness services was something Cluett says became key for Nature Folk, an infrared sauna and massage therapy studio that was founded to help people incorporate self-care without it feeling onerous. She says short treatments mean engaging with a wellness centre like Nature Folk can offer a quick yet effective reset.

“A client can come to Nature Folk for a quick 25-minute sauna on their lunch break for a mini-reset, or a longer 45-minute sauna in the evening to decompress from the day. For those that work in an office, massage therapy is vitally important to help counterbalance the physical and emotional strain from poor desk posture, overstimulation and social fatigue,” she says.

Cluett says that whether you choose to soak in a sauna or check in with digital therapy, making time to foster a deeper connection with your self will help entrepreneurs develop their own self-care practices to implement on their own time, whenever they feel work-related stress or anxiety creeping up. And with businesses never being more open about so-called pandemic pivots, the toll this hard work has taken and how difficult — and rewarding — keeping up with these changing times have been, this is the perfect time to start.

“Maybe it’s a five-minute walk, a mantra, breath work, contrast bathing, journaling, a high-intensity work out, yoga, looking at Pinterest, a foot soak, stretching, surfing, or petting your dog — as long as you are present, connected and intentional with whatever practice you choose, you are supporting your mental health. Achieving inner peace is the new success,” she says.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

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