5 Self-Care Tips For Female Entrepreneurs For Long-Term Success
Why Is Self-Care Difficult For Female Entrepreneurs?
In his clinical practice, Dr. Hokemeyer sees many entrepreneurs who struggle with a wide variety of mental disorders.
And he believe that this is one of the underlying reasons:
“[e]ntrepreneurs are trained to ignore the qualitative needs of their well-being measured in meaningful and authentic relationships, overall life satisfaction and happiness.”
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs are inundated with messaging that encourages a hustle-til-you-drop mentality or get-rich-overnight mindset (just two examples that come to mind).
Now, Dr. Hokemeyer is talking about entrepreneurs in general but I believe female entrepreneurs struggle just as much or more with self-care than their male counterparts because of the extra expectations we often feel.
The Mental Health Crisis in Entrepreneurs
One study done at the University of San Francisco found that almost half of entrepreneurs will suffer from at least one form of mental illness during their lifetime from…
- Bipolar disorder
- Addictive disorder
Thing is, most female entrepreneurs aren’t talking about this.
Instead, what we mostly talk about are the success stories, not the everyday struggles…
Especially if those struggles involve mental health challenges.
But the reality of entrepreneurship, especially in the beginning, is very different from the picture painted by the most successful entrepreneurs.
The truth of the matter is that it can be really hard.
I’m constantly stretched emotionally, mentally, professionally, financially and relationally beyond my comfort zone.
How Is Self-Care Different For Female Entrepreneurs?
As an entrepreneur, the ball stops with us. We’re the first one there and the last one to leave. We’re responsible for growing our business.
And like a newborn infant, our fledgling startup needs to be constantly nurtured to survive and thrive.
But this sometimes happens at the cost of our well-being.
As entrepreneur and writer Stephanie Lee says:
“We tend to neglect our emotional and mental needs in the pursuit of greater conversions, more leads, one more blog post, and a five- or six-figure launch.”
One thing that might help is to shift our mindset around self-care.
It’s not just another item to check off your list. Neither does it mean simply taking a break from work.
Instead, Lee defines self-care as “any intentional act and decision that places you and your needs at the forefront.”
Self-Care Will Be Foundational To Your Long-Term Success
There are a couple of reasons why learning how to look after your well-being will be important for your long-term success.
First, you’re the leader of the organization.
So, if you’re demonstrating poor habits about self-care or you’re beginning to burn out, then there’s a good chance your people are burning out too.
Because people follow what you do, not necessarily what you say.
Second, if you’re not taking care of yourself, then you’re going to burn out and you’ll make yourself more vulnerable to mental health issues and these will make it harder to pursue your goals as an entrepreneur.
So here are five self-care tips that can help you as a female entrepreneur to stay in the game long-term.
#1. Get The Sleep You Need
We all know that sleep is vital to our wellbeing and productivity. Yet, when our plates are full and something needs to give, sleep is often one of the first things we cut.
But this isn’t a great long-term strategy as an entrepreneur.
Serial entrepreneur Deep Patel writes, “did you know that sleep deprivation can cause impairments that are similar to being drunk?
Sleep is vital to our well-being.
It’s when our body heals and repairs itself, and it’s key to supporting healthy brain function.”
So when we deprive ourselves of sleep, we aren’t equipping ourselves with the optimal brain function we need to be at our best for building our business.
If you find this one hard to do, perhaps you could try developing a simple self-care plan and put sleep at the top of the list to remind yourself to keep it as a top priority.
#2. Learn How To Say “No” To Lots Of Things
“As an entrepreneur, you will no doubt have many requests for meetings, collaborations, partnerships, ‘could-I-pick-your-brain’ sessions, and more. My advice is to say no to 90 percent of these, because 90 percent of requests will most likely distract you from your business goals.”
Here’s the thing, if you don’t constantly keep your top priorities the main thing, then other people’s agendas will drive you.
So, one way to filter opportunities is to create a short list of questions that can be part of your self-care strategy.
For example, they could look like this:
- Will this opportunity take me closer to my goals?
- Will this opportunity add more benefits than it will cost me (in terms of time, effort, money, etc)?
- Does this opportunity align with my mission and vision?
- Does this organization/team share my values?
These are just some examples of questions I ask myself when opportunities come up and if the answer is “no” to any of these, then I don’t move forward with it.
#3. Develop Healthy Habits
What area do you need to create healthier habits around the most?
If you decide to focus on being more active, then you will reap benefits in addition to the physical benefits of exercise.
Michael Zhou, Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development, suggests that “[m]aking exercise a regular part of your lifestyle can change the way you react to stress. You will feel much happier when you stick to the routine since it is not just good for your body, but it’s great for clearing your mind.”
There are tons of exercise and healthy eating resources available, so try to find ones that work for you.
As part of my own self-care routine, I try to get outside a certain number of times each week for a walk. It helps me to get some exercise while at the same time giving me some space to get creative with my camera.
#4. Unplug From Work
One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur, especially if you’re also working from home, is that work can creep into every area of your life.
However, if you don’t ever truly unplug from work, you’re going to burn out. Instead of waiting for vacation to recuperate, try building in healthier habits around work now.
“Designate time (every day if you can) to step away from your cell phone, laptop, email, etc. Make it your time to decompress… to breathe,” says Amber Vilhauer, Online Marketing and Business Sales Coach.
Try to set specific hours when you work and when you’re off and communicate that clearly to your family and clients so they know what to expect.
And then here’s the tricky part — stick to your setup!
For instance, your self-care plan may involve stopping work every day at 4:00 pm. If so, get in the habit of putting your phone away at that time and don’t answer any work calls. For the rest of the evening, focus on your family or friends or whatever else you’ve decided to spend time doing.
#5. Develop Good Social Support
Having strong, healthy relationships can help us to not only live happier lives but to also deal with challenges more effectively. In other words, having good support in our lives helps us to be more resilient as people.
“Defined as proactive communication, care, and understanding, the need for social support includes settings both within and outside of work.”
The trick for this to be the most effective is to be intentional about developing this before you actually need it.
And all of us are guaranteed to face different challenges, whether at work or in our personal lives.
So focus on developing strong, mutual relationships now before you really need them.
I hope this has helped you to think how you can be more intentional about self-care for yourself as an entrepreneur.
What step will you take this week to be more intentional about self-care? Share your next step in the comments below.
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