Being a business owner is a 24/7 role. For most people, they are their brand so your mind never switches off from your business, even when you are not actually working. I speak to so many women who have episodes of feeling overwhelmed and constantly anxious. This can contribute to stress, burn-out and depression.
There is a power to being gentle with yourself. Any smart business owner knows that it takes a lot of hard work in the beginning. It takes failing to learn. It takes wrong turns to get clarity. It takes criticism to understand more about who you are and what you want.
This is why we need to ensure we are in touch with both our bodies and minds. We all possess the most magnificent and intelligent machine in the world – our being – and we must learn to connect and listen. Yes, there will be some days where there is no option but to do 14 hours straight on a project, but there will be other days where your mind just does not focus. On these days it would be more beneficial for you to go for a walk, or even stick on a film, rather than force your mind to process.
Resting is not a weakness. Taking breaks is not a weakness. Recognising you are overwhelmed is not a weakness.
I recently had my first big (and scary) period of what I would call a low-period. My motivation was non-existent, I struggled to focus, I started questioning if what I am doing is my true purpose in life. This period lasted 2 months. Yes, 2 MONTHS! And it was super scary, but I found the best remedy was to recognise and surrender. Here are some of the things that helped me get out of my rut and things I continue to implement to ensure I do not get to that place again.
5 ways to be gentle with yourself as a kick-ass female business owner
- Positively rest
Depending on your personality you may or may not find losing yourself in 8 episodes of a Netflix series easy. There is nothing wrong with that, but for most of us business owners we have active minds that rarely slow down long enough for 8 consecutive hours of TV. If the idea of rest and relaxation sends shivers down your spine (it used to for me. “I am not the kind of person who relaxes” used to be my main line!) just start flirting with the idea, and although it sounds crazy, plan it!
Rather than get lost in what you may see as ‘pointless relaxation' take back your power and turn it into ‘positively resting'. Set goals (to feel lighter, to have more energy, to feel less overwhelmed) and blocks of time for each activity (2 hours of Netflix, 1 hour of reading, 30 mins in a bath) and you will see the beautiful benefits of this practice.
2. Understand your cycle
As women, our menstrual cycles can have a really big effect on our energy and moods; especially if you have a natural cycle not being affected by hormone-based contraception. I really recommend Claire Baker to start to understand your ‘seasons' and how to plan your life and business around your own cycle.
In summary, those first few days of your period should have minimal business activity and maximum self-care time whereas, in the middle of your cycle, this is the time to be on show – do LIVES, attend events and get networking. It took me a while to learn to listen to my body in this way but it really has helped in making the most of my mental and physical energy levels throughout the month.
3. Take a day off
I used to be a Mon-Fri 9-5 (PLUS 3 hours in the evening AND 12 hours at the weekend) kinda girl. The more my business has evolved the more I have transformed into anything from a Mon-Sun 9 – 2 lady to 70 hours spread out unevenly over the week.
One thing I have learnt is if I fully take off a day a week, I really do squash overwhelm and burn-out a lot better than if I am constantly on. Some weeks it isn’t possible, I understand that, but try and set the intention of having a day off a week. That feeling of waking up in a morning and knowing it's all yours with no pressures of work (bar maybe 20 minutes of emails and a few IG stories) is an amazing tonic for your mental wellbeing.
- Say no (to others and yourself)
Not only is our time precious, but more importantly, our energy is precious. When you're not in a state of flow, you need to start protecting the small amount of energy you have. Take a break from communicating with people who drain you. Don't pick up that call if you know the person on the other end is a time and energy vampire. Don't over-promise to attend things/ do things that take a fair amount of effort in your own mind. Saying no is one of the most powerful things you can do and helps you get laser-focused on both what your priorities are and what lights you up.
- Swap work time for you time
In the past when I've had blocks or lack of focus I have taken some time away from my business. I have turned the spotlight on myself; my inner self. This may look like a guided meditation, a yoga class, an oracle card reading, journaling, a solo-trip away, devouring an entire book or a podcast and baking binge. Not just random distractions but things that allow me to either feed my brain or reflect on life; but that is not directly linked with your business. A forever lover of Einstein and his theories, he highlights the importance of stepping away from a problem (held by the conscious mind) to find a solution (through the sub-conscious mind).
I hope these little tips have helped. We will all have periods of soaring and falling. The best medicine is knowing how to look after yourselves in these periods. And remember, if you feel ‘off’ for a prolonged period of time, go see a professional. Listen to your instincts and trust your body and mind to protect you in the best way possible.
Verity Brown is a freelance marketer and founder of the SEASALT (Stop Existing And Start Actually Living Today) plan. A women's empowerment and mindset coach, she helps women remove mental blocks that may be stopping them from living a life true to them, with a content heart.