Nurturing your mental health in business and in life

This post is a little break away from copywriting tips to focus on the importance of nurturing yourself and your mental health in business, and in life.

I come to this post as a human, a solopreneur, and a mental health professional. 

Building a business and navigating life can be absolutely amazing! And it can be terrifically tough.

After witnessing first hand the delicate balancing act between my why (more balance, time, freedom, choice and meaning in my life + creating spaces for kind communication and positive change in our world), and the cultural norms of hustling, pushing on, and doing more, I’ve found myself reflecting on this universally shared challenge. 

Because, it’s not just a few of us grappling with how to reach that place of balance and of wellness. It’s most of us. 

The reality is that sometimes business isn’t glossy. Sometimes business involves catching those dark early morning quiet moments, and enduring sleepless nights filled with uncertainty.

Sometimes being in business means an hour of breathing before a meeting to calm your racing mind.

Often it means numerous moments a day spent grounding, connecting to your body, and reminding your brain that it’s safe.

And, giving of yourself to create your business requires downtime to decompress and recharge your energy.

This is especially true if you’re navigating mental health challenges, caring roles, challenging life times, or systems that haven’t honoured all of you… 

Give yourself permission…

Not just today, but every day of every month, give yourself permission to know you can do the ‘things’ of business, with wellness and with internal challenges.

And you can also NOT do them, if that’s what best nurtures you right now.

Whilst hustle culture would have us believe that we need to be ‘on’ all the time, maximising every moment, and doing more, more more…hustle culture is also highly unsustainable for most of us. 

We now know beyond doubt, that hustling, soldiering on and doing more is pushing many of us to spend too much time in a state of stress and survival.

Our activated nervous systems are overwhelmed and exhausted. 

When we’re in survival mode, it’s SO hard to create, generate new ideas, be our best selves, or make decisions. 

The very parts of our brains that help us to do this are unavailable to us…we’re focused on finding ways to merely survive the day (the fight/flight/freeze survival response). 

Exhaustion, anxiety, sleeplessness, frustration…these are the messages from your body asking for you to slow down, rest, nourish yourself, and find safety in order to move out of a state of stress. 

It might not always be possible to have stress-free spaces, depending on your circumstances, and what is happening in your world. 

On a global scale, the past few years have seen the world experiencing a suspended state of stress and uncertainty. It’s been challenging to navigate continually shifting horizons. 

And, whilst mental health affects us all in unique ways, experiencing mental health challenges can go hand in hand with having fulfilling and successful lives, making dreams come true, building strong connections and relationships, and having a rich and complex life filled with meaning and purpose.

How you nurture yourself is incredibly unique to you. The below resources are simply some ideas that might resonate. 🙂

Some gentle reminders for nurturing your mental health

Check who you’re following 

On your socials, emails and in life – who are you observing? Whose content are you consuming? Do you feel seen, heard, inspired, and joyful when you engage with them? Or, do you feel stressed, less-than, do you find yourself comparing your life to theirs? Do they have diverse and authentic lives, bodies, goals, bank accounts, or are they portraying a stylised angle that leaves out their privilege, only portrays the good times, etc. 

Who we surround ourselves with can make an enormous difference to our health and wellbeing.

Healthy boundaries are essential

It can feel deeply scary to set boundaries. Yet they are what support us to protect our energy. 

Hustle culture itself encourages us NOT to have boundaries – ‘you need to reply to that email at 10pm on a Saturday or else that deal will fall over’, ‘you need to be more and do more to keep up with the competition’ (even at the expense of your own health, happiness and work/life balance), you need to finish your list before you’re allowed to rest’,…etc.

Many of us, myself included, struggle to set boundaries because they’re so rarely modelled to us in healthy ways. 

Instead, we might have seen the praise given to the parent that pushes on even when they’re sick, the partner who worked multiple jobs to support their family – what might be unsustainable survival mode becomes glorified and held up as something to strive for.

So what can healthy boundaries look like?

  • Other people’s feelings, including their sense of urgency are not your responsibility – you can have a helpful, successful and well-respected business without running yourself into the ground trying to meet impossible deadlines and respond to calls and emails at all hours.
  • One gentle yet firm way to set your boundaries is to set clear expectations of your availability from the beginning of a working relationship – this can be verbally, within your process documents and even within your email signature. You might choose to share the days you respond to emails, your working times, when you don’t work, etc. The easiest way to set these boundaries successfully is to start as you plan to continue – sure, maybe I can be available at all hours for a month, but could I sustain that for 6 months, could I sustain that if my other commitments increase?
  • Other business boundaries can include phone-free times, social media breaks, no emails at lunchtime, etc. 

Setting boundaries also helps to model this for others and gives them permission to set their own.

This is super important if you’re in a leadership role, as other people will be looking to you to understand what’s expected/ the norm. 

Block out time to soothe your nervous system 

This doesn’t have to take long – it might be 5 minutes at the start or end of your lunchtime, it might be 2 minutes when you hop into bed, it can be multiple times a day – start small and consistent.

Find the timing and activity that works for you

You might like to try some deep breathing activities (shown to slow heart rate and reduce nervous system activation); give yourself a hug or gently press your feet into the ground to reconnect with your surroundings. 

Maybe for you supporting your nervous system looks like walking in the fresh air, or journalling as a way to decompress and process your experiences.

Make space for big emotions and life events

You’re not a business separated from life – life moves and flows around and within your business. 

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to make time to nurture our well-being until we’re forced to by exhaustion, stress and anxiety. 

Blocking out time to recharge as we go gives space for our experiences bit-by-bit. 

If you feel called to, try putting regular days in your calendar that will be biz days (no client work), well-being or mental health days, ‘you’ days…it could be 1 hour a week, 1 day a month, 1 day a week, every second day…

And commit to it as often as you can – when we prioritise ourselves and show up for ourselves we start to heal those tiny betrayals that happen when we continually put our own needs aside. 

Live life outside of your business

We can’t generate from an empty tank. Time spent switching off from your biz, doing other things and engaging in your life outside of work is an investment in your energy, inspiration and ‘fresh eyes’ for your biz. 

I want to acknowledge that this won’t always be possible for everyone, all of the time – if you’re in a place where your only option is to continue to push forward, to get that paycheck, to secure your safety… your experience is so valid and the ways you connect to and support yourself might look different for a time.  

Please know your dreams, your identity, your goals, your business – are valid and important regardless of how much money you earn, how many hours a week you spend working, or how many followers you have. 

Here’s to creating spaces free from toxic blame, shame and pressure.

Here’s to creating cultures that have space for each and every human experience we have.

With love and lightness for a kind day ahead,

Jas xx

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