Starting my own business has been exhilarating and exhausting, and ultimately totally worth it. I finally feel like I’m the master of my own destiny. I’m free to grow and learn in ways that are satisfying to me personally, instead of just completing tasks to please my boss.
Unfortunately there is a dark side to all of that liberty. Now there is a lot of pressure on me to land that next gig in the pursuit of getting paid. Like a lot of people, I’ve dealt with my fair share of anxiety and depression, but in the last few weeks I’ve found myself struggling in a way that I never had before.
I think it’s normal to have anxiety when you’re starting something new, especially starting a new business. I’ve heard enough stories about other entrepreneurs struggling with the emotional challenges that come up, and so I heeded their advice in advance. I was sure to have a group of supportive friends and make time for myself outside of my business life.
My Muay Thai training was helping to burn off excess nervous energy and keep my serotonin levels up. Smoking a joint and watching my favorite telenovella gave me a break from my near constant brainstorming. I was careful to get plenty of sleep and eat healthy, but I still wondered “Will I crack under this pressure?”
I was talking to a friend about all the great things that are happening for my business right now. I got a gig managing the social media for a local health foods store and I’m helping my Muay Thai teacher plan a massive event for his nonprofit. I told her about how I was thrilled, but also worried. She shared a humorous post that recommended “reframing” our language so that our thoughts themselves are more positive. Instead of, “I can’t handle this.” we should say, “This is a bit challenging!” Instead of, “I’m so depressed.” we should say, “I’m feeling down.” She and I laughed at how ridiculous it is to say, “I’m feeling sort of down.” when you’re daydreaming about ways to end your life.
We laughed then, but within a week I was in full blown meltdown mode. When my kids were pushing my buttons (as kids do) my response was to fall apart rather than take a deep breath and stand my ground. It was happening. I was crumbling and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I had to let my meltdown happen. I screamed. I cried. I spent the entire afternoon in bed knowing what I needed to do to feel better, but not feeling worthy of feeling better. It’s times like these that I truly value my analytical side because, as I lay there feeling awful, I was able to take steps deeper and deeper into my psyche by asking, “Why?” Why did I feel like I didn’t deserve to feel better? Why did I feel overwhelmed?
I was able to to get to the root cause of my feelings, and then use that information to change my strategy. I was feeling overwhelmed, so I checked in with my calendar and started planning. I decided to wake up earlier and spend some time each morning planning out my day. That included making time for Homework (writing these articles, working on proposals, checking in on my social media accounts.)
I felt stressed because I want people to like me. So I decided to focus less on what others think about me and focus more on that little girl inside of me who just wants to do weird things like listening to the sound of the needle drop on a record. I decided to give myself space to do things like lay on the floor and watch a record spin around on the turntable.
After those having those realizations and making plans to solve my issues, I felt like I was ready to help myself. I made myself a liter of very strong, very medicinal tea, and pounded it like a frat boy. I started to feel lighter, and it wasn’t just the tea. I felt like a better version of myself, one with a bit less baggage than before.
The pressure to succeed and the responsibility of having to provide for yourself (and maybe others) can be too much to bear sometimes. The isolation of creating your own path can be undermined by the need to be confident. It’s normal to have dark moments where you doubt your abilities, and even your sanity. The question is, how do we deal with those moments? It’s guaranteed that they will happen, and I promise you, these growing pains aren’t pretty.
I’m glad I had this dark moment, even if it might have resulted in psychologically scarring my children, because I was able to recognize and take steps to overcome a blockage that I didn’t even know was there. Running from challenges will never lead to success, personally or professionally. My advice to anyone else who is struggling like I was is this: don’t turn away from those dark feelings. Explore those dusty corners of your psyche because that’s where you’ll find your own personal hidden gems. Once you bring those gems out into the light, that’s when you’ll see how bright you can shine.
I am a part time secretary for a naturopath, Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino, and she gave me some excellent advice for healing Adrenal Fatigue and supporting our body’s stress response. We will always face adversity, whether it be internal or external. How we handle that adversity is what will eventually define our lives. Here are some tips that Dr. Giammarino recommends for supporting your adrenal glands so that you can deal with stress and live to fight another day:
● Shop for supplements at reputable stores like Whole Foods, or better yet local health food stores like Better Life Whole Foods or Choice Health.
● Look for supplements that include a few of the following herbs: Licorice great for depression (and herpes, cuz y’know, herpes happens.)
- Holy Basil benefits cortisol levels, helping with the stress response. Ashwagandha known for its restorative properties, it gives you fortitude.
- Eleuthero helps you adapt to changes.
- Rhodiola enhances energy, helps boost brain power, and can even help burn fat.
- Kava helps stave off panic and anxiety, and can help with difficulty sleeping.
● Add a drop of high quality lavender essential oil to a liter of water. Drink, and enjoy it’s calming effect. Let’s face it, if we’re going to succeed at this Start Up lifestyle, then we need to have our health on lock. I recommend seeing a naturopath to get personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations so you can roll with the inevitable punches that come with entrepreneurialism.
Let’s face it, if we’re going to succeed at this Start Up lifestyle, then we need to have our health on lock. I recommend seeing a naturopath to get personalized diet and lifestyle recommendations so you can roll with the inevitable punches that come with entrepreneurialism.