While the last few years have depleted everyone's physical, mental, and emotional reserves, in some ways, prioritizing health has taken center stage.
Yet as small business owners struggle to balance the pandemic, a recession, and caring for employees or clients, taking care of their own mental health often lands at the bottom of their to-do lists.
And you know what that leads to.
Creative blocks, analysis paralysis, creeping imposter syndrome, and the feeling that you can never quite get on top of everything or actually enjoy the creative business you’ve built.
You’re not alone in those feelings. Mental health struggles are common among business owners. It probably has something to do with the Type-A, wants-to-be-in-charge side of us that drove us to launch, grow, and run a creative business in the first place.
But that drive to keep pushing, growing, and working, won’t sustain you forever unless you have safeguards in place.
That’s what I realized two years ago.
Though everything in my life seemed to be going great at the time - I was settling into my dream apartment, making new personal connections, and hitting record-high monthly revenue numbers with Honey & Co. - there was a constant looming feeling that something was going to go wrong.
My anxiety reached a new level and getting out of bed, eating, working, and even driving was a struggle. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I envisioned when I launched my creative business.
So 2022 became a reset.
For the first time in a long time, I prioritized my mental health and worked to truly enjoy this business and community I’m a part of.
It’s my hope that in sharing my own experiences navigating mental health as a business owner, you’ll feel supported, comforted, and ready to prioritize your well-being as well.
Everyone’s experience navigating their mental health, running a small business, and managing their moods, anxiety, or stresses is different.
I’m not a doctor, psychologist, or expert on mental health, but I am a small business owner who’s worked hard over the past few years to feel more at ease with my life and work.
Over the past two years, I've been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and PTSD along with recognizing that I also have ADHD.
As someone who’s always struggled with anxiety, I didn’t realize how debilitating my anxiety was until I went on medication in 2021 in combination with regular therapy.
Despite the fact that therapy has been valuable and helpful to me over the years, I had to be honest that this 'hard phase' wasn't a phase and therapy wasn't addressing the root cause of my difficulties. The struggles I was experiencing didn't seem like ones I could change myself - they were chemical and not situational.
After starting on medication, the changes I experienced made me wonder, ‘is this how most people feel all the time?!’ Now, I’m far more comfortable in social situations, spend less time worrying about how others perceive me, and live more fully.
Being on medications has pros and cons, and it's something you should only do in consultation with a trusted professional, but for me, the pros are far outweighed by the cons.
Yet, in 2022, I felt like I had hit another brick wall with my mental health. This time it was something all too common among small business owners…
From 2018 until 2022, I had never taken so much of a breath outside of my business. No vacations, no meaningful time off, no hint of personal life. I had even moved literally across the world, yet hadn’t given myself a moment to relax.
Everything revolved around running my creative business, and it finally caught up to me.
It came to the point where I felt myself shutting off. Passion and creativity - the things that drove me to build my business - ran out and I was no longer able to find joy in what I once loved.
That’s when I knew it was time to make another change.
My initial steps included:
It was refreshing to have these immediate steps ease my anxiety and free my creative block, but they also signaled the need to make long-term changes to protect my mental health.
Protecting my mental health as a creative business owner is an ongoing process. Even with routines, habits, and steps in place, it’s something I need to consistently and consciously prioritize.
Do I still have days when I work until 9:00 pm and forget to eat lunch? Yes.
Is there still a fear that if I don’t do enough, work enough, or create enough, I won’t continue to grow my business? Yes.
Does my anxiety sometimes build up until I want to spend all Sunday laying in bed, cuddling with my dogs? Yes.
The support I've implemented into my day-to-day life has made those moments more manageable and less frequent. So here’s what helps me:
As creative business owners, we care so much about what we do and who we serve but showing up wholeheartedly for your business means first showing up wholeheartedly for yourself.
If you need reminders on prioritizing your mental health - tips on how to prioritize your health - then sign up for my email list and I’ll pop into your inbox with advice on entrepreneurship, branding, and design.
Principal, Honey & Co.
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