20 Successful Women Share Their Best Self-Care Advice
Though the world is slowly rebuilding and creating its new normal, life as we once knew it has not returned—and it likely never will. Coming to terms with saying goodbye to the lives we had prior to 2020, while simultaneously navigating the uncertainty that lies ahead can be uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet, after a year of operating at a slower pace and taking some time for deep reflection, we're feeling ready to embrace what's next.
We tapped into the experiences of 20 high-achieving women from the Dreamers & Doers collective to learn about the ways they've been taking care of their mental health while living through a pandemic, raising children, building their career, running businesses, and everything in between.
Their responses provide a variety of tangible self-care methods anyone can implement immediately to ensure their mental health is being prioritized despite the uncertainty that continues. While there is truly something for everyone here, a common thread runs through their responses: mental health must be prioritized in the toughest seasons. In fact, that is arguably the time it matters most.
Meha Agrawal, founder and CEO of Silk + Sonder, a subscription-based mental wellness experience for the modern woman that makes daily self care easy and fun.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: When I need to unwind, refocus, and decompress, I love to light a candle, set up an aroma diffuser, and use my essential oils to get into a spiritual mindset while I journal. Creating a special and safe space with a good vibe makes my journaling routine feel more energizing and instantly makes me feel centered.
My Advice: Step back, think about your core values and what is important to you, then gut check whether you are living true to those things. If you're not, make a plan of how you can prioritize and get into a more positive headspace. In my experience, bringing pen to paper has been my savior.
Annelise Hillmann, co-founder and CEO of FRONTMAN, a Gen Z self-care brand offering immediate cosmetic solutions for guys.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: The pandemic has made it extremely difficult to mentally switch between work and leisure. My solution has been to protect my time off and encourage my own creative outlets so that my brain can engage with other ideas and return to my normal work recharged.
My Advice: The No. 1 threat to most projects' success is creator burnout. Forcing yourself to take time away from work will not only improve your daily mood but also improve your work and energy in the long run.
Lexie Smith, founder of THEPRBAR inc., an online coaching brand that specializes in helping motivated entrepreneurs exponentially expand their impact, influence, and revenue through PR.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I have been very intentional with setting working hour boundaries, both with myself and with my clients. This includes stepping away from work by 6 p.m. at the latest and making sure to take off weekends.
My Advice: Make realistic goals. If you've never set boundaries around working hours before, for example, start by practicing one day a week. When you feel comfortable, up it two, and so on and so forth. If you aren't feeling like you can accomplish such alone, turn to communities filled with like-minded individuals.
Lorrie King, co-founder and CEO of Caire Beauty, a skincare brand designed specifically for the 40+ woman, experiencing dramatically changing skin due to hormone decline and menopause.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: During late fall in 2019, I embarked on a journey to explore and heal myself by attending a 10-day silent meditation. This involved no talking, no reading, no writing, no electronics, no eye contact or physical contact, no eating before 6:30 a.m. or after 11:30 a.m. Yet there was so much abundance and gratitude that translated into so much to say yes to.
My Advice: Every morning open your eyes, but don't move yet. Smile and express gratitude for your life and being alive, then share appreciation for those you love. Give yourself a hug and then choose to approach your day with happiness as you rise out of bed to enter your day. This one-minute exercise will help you throughout the day because whenever it gets tough or you feel anxious, you can recall that morning smile.
Jonna Piira, CFO and Consultant of JP Advisors LLC., working as a fractional CFO, helping leaders easily digest financial data.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I know that I will be more productive if I start my day with meditation and stretching while looking at my vision board and sipping hot lemon water. I also have found that when I am overwhelmed, taking a mid-day break to walk outside for 15 minutes can really reset my energy in a positive way.
My Advice: If you are sensing that you are off balance and mentally down, take baby steps to shift that energy and have an accountability partner. An easy first step for me is starting my day by writing three things I am grateful for that happened within the last 24 hours.
Randle Browning, Head of Content and Marketing at Skillcrush, a tech education platform.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I slowed down to give myself space and time to process all that was happening. That meant frequent virtual therapy sessions, permission to be unproductive, a new meditation practice, and lots of hours outdoors.
My Advice: Just like your body needs rest and care, so does your mental health. You deserve to do what you need to for your mental health, and doing so helps others in your life too.
Stephanie Danielle Alexander
Stephanie Danielle Alexander, founder and CEO of En Soleil LLC, a first-of-its-kind urban retreat, created with the social professional in mind.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I partnered with several Black- and women-owned brands to create an "Indulge" spa day in a box, and I got great feedback from those who ordered it. Taking the time to take a bath and unplug, as well as being able to share the experience with others was a form of mental self-care for me.
My Advice: Only expend energy on the things that matter, and learn to say "no" to things that don't. I no longer stress about "fire drills" at work, and, to date, no damage has been done. What needs to be done, gets done, and I keep my sanity.
Shivika Sinha, founder and CEO of Veneka, a capsule wardrobe styling service featuring sustainable, ethical, and cruelty-free brands.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I began by committing to doing one thing each day that gave me energy. These activities included reading, napping, and exercising. As the weeks rolled on, I felt my mental and emotional reserves refilling.
My Advice: Do one thing every day that gives you mental and emotional energy. It doesn't have to take up a lot of time or resources. Start small. Those small things will add up over time.
Rachel Dorton, founder of Highview Collective, a growth marketing consultancy that helps parenting, baby, and children's brands reach their customers through storytelling and brand marketing.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: Those precious hours between when my boys went to bed and when my husband and I did were the only thing that kept me sane in the pandemic. But I quickly realized that I was spending that time mindlessly scrolling on social media. I decided to tap into my creative side and do something with my hands. I put my phone down and took up needlepoint. I have found joy in creating something tangible and beautiful.
My Advice: It's so easy to stay stagnant. I've learned it's important to step back to give yourself perspective. Did I really need to scroll on Instagram for 30 minutes before bed instead of getting that extra sleep? How is it serving me and how could I have better used that time? I think that perspective helps in all areas of life—from home life to business and parenting.
Nilima Achwal, founder of The Female Founders Lab, a virtual support and capital ecosystem for venture ideas and a high-touch accelerator for early-stage founders raising their first round of funding.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: Instead of imposing the old work culture on my entrepreneurial life as I was doing before, I realized that I can flow with what needs to be done throughout the day in short spurts of a few hours and then immediately turn off again and go outside to "play."
My Advice: Take a few days of being completely "off"—no phone, no computer. Get used to what that feels like. Then, make that your status quo. Your computer should only be open if you know exactly what you're trying to do in a defined time frame.
Raquel Rojo Calderon
Raquel Rojo Calderon, founder and CEO of Innata Style, a business that helps rising women act confidently in life and work by elevating their personal image.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I've been paying close attention to the small things that give me energy and make me happy. I believe that true self-care begins with discovering your needs and desires, which are often different from those of other people. It's not about the activity, per se, but about the effect that it has on you.
My Advice: I would stay away from prescriptive advice as to what to do based on other people's experiences, and pay more attention to advice about how to connect with your intuitive voice. Because that inner voice knows what you need. It's trying to tell you if you pay attention.
Tara Ghei, founder and CEO of Romp + Tumble, a business that curates and rents bundles of baby and toddler clothes.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I have to intentionally take stock of my physical and emotional cues and give myself permission to respond in the moment. So some days I may need to take a nap at 3 p.m. Other days, I may wake up early and read a fun fiction book in bed. And other times I may need to shut off my phone for an hour before bedtime and write.
My Advice: I love the approach of time-blocking a calendar, if you can. It forces you to think about what recharges you and make the time for it. However, we have periods where this is tough, especially as a working parent during a pandemic. In those times, have a mental list of things that recharge you and give yourself permission to respond to your needs in the moment, if you can.
Kristine Miguel, founder of Caritas Company, a financial consulting company that helps small business owners transform their financial process.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I put my phone on "bedtime mode" from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. which means no work and social-media related notifications for at least 12 hours. With this approach, I'm able to get to bed earlier and wake up before my toddler, which really helps with my mood and lowers my anxiety.
My Advice: Baby steps toward progress, not perfection. Take it one week at a time. If your new goals don't feel right after one week, you can change them. Do what works best for you—not what everyone else is doing.
Danielle Letayf, founder and CEO of Badassery, a community-driven marketplace for event organizers to book diverse public speakers.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I've found solace in taking several 15-20 minute breaks to walk outside, have a tea without looking at my phone or reading the news, or doing a quick workout. Keeps me energized, balanced, and ready to go for the day!
My Advice: Priorities are a choice, so make it happen. You need to be actively making the choice to take care of your mental health, and I'd recommend telling those around you that you're doing so for some accountability.
Katherine North, founder of Declare Dominion, life coaching for women too smart for the self-help aisle.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I have found I simply have to get away in order to think clearly. Recently, I let myself work deeply the first day, but then I forced myself to actually rest—to sleep, do yoga, read novels, meditate, just sit, and dream. It was incredible what that open space did for my mind and heart. New ideas flooded in, new enthusiasm rose up, I actually missed my beloved family, and I felt like I could feel my own life force flood through me again. It was the best thing I'd done for myself all year.
My Advice: Ironically, the times when you most desperately need a break are also the times when you're also too tired and desperate to allow yourself to take one. So go ahead and schedule them in advance. Having it on the calendar is helpful both because it takes decision-making out of the equation, and because it gives you something to look forward to.
Jessica Sikora, founder and Executive Director of SUPERBANDS, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to raising awareness for the youth mental health crisis through a shared love of music.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I started to set strict limits on my screen time and block time in my calendar to do things that bring me joy, like walking my dogs at the park or going for a drive to grab coffee.
My Advice: Seek out pockets every morning that bring you happiness, even if it is just five or 10 minutes. Soak in the joy from those moments and express gratitude. Block out time on your calendar so you are forced to take a step back and briefly recharge.
Sara Weinreb, founder of IMBY, a virtual community center for people who give a shit about co-creating a more just and equitable future.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I've committed to doing less, connecting to loved ones more, focusing on community care, and taking breaks from my phone and computer—both intentionally, and when it all feels like too much and I find myself feeling overwhelmed. Some days it's easier than others, but I realize my wellbeing is paramount to my ability to continue to fight for change.
My Advice: Start very, very small. We don't all have the privilege to take time off, or indulge in expensive or fancy self care. Rather, try to recognize when you are feeling anxious, or depressed, and take a few deep breaths. Do one really simple and kind thing for yourself, whether it's calling a friend, going for a walk, or making your favorite drink.
Adero Miwo, founder and CEO of FairFare, a one-stop shop for rideshares.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I have taken myself on solo trips to Sedona, local beaches, and simple walks in my neighborhood with my phone on Do Not Disturb. I also love to dance, so solo dance parties are always a good way for me to reset and refocus.
My Advice: The world will not end if you hit the deadline tomorrow or even next week. Your work is stronger when you are operating from a healthy mental space.
Erin Tarr, founder of Be the Benchmark LLC, which runs group coaching programs for teen and tween girls.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: My business revolves around giving young girls the tools to overcome any obstacle they encounter. I leaned heavily on the tools I teach them to stay mentally and emotionally healthy. The FIERCEST Framework that I teach includes daily gratitude practice, consistent affirmations, regular exercise, reading and evaluating inspirational quotes, creating something, encouraging others—all ideally within the first 30 minutes of waking up each day.
My Advice: You are an average of the five people you spend the most time around. Finding people and groups who we can encourage and be encouraged by and who reflect the type of people we aspire to be can remind us when to slow down and give ourselves grace.
Rachel Abramowitz, founder of Keepler, a new dating app that embeds personal growth into the process of dating.
How I've Been Taking Care of My Mental Health: I block off time in my calendar to read and write poetry! I started my first career in academia as a poet, and it's still a vital part of my identity. I respect these "poetry meetings" just as highly as my business meetings—it's like setting appointments with the muse.
My Advice: Switching off your "business self" to make time for creative endeavors may feel unproductive, but in the long run you will actually become a better problem-solver, manager, and human being. Creative work—reading, writing, drawing, dancing—strengthens the parts of your brain that will light up when you focus on business problems that need creative solutions. When you show up for your creativity, it will show up for you.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
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