3 Steps to Better Self-Care for Female Entrepreneurs

It’s been a doozy of a year. And while yes, we’ve been saying this for the past few years, 2022 stands apart in my own personal life. I think we can each say that about a particular stretch of time since the pandemic began — whether it was adjusting to one of the many lockdowns, losing a job, navigating health complications, losing someone we love, or something completely different that felt all the heavier because of everything else that’s happening in our world.

Stress levels are high. If you’re like most, you’ve probably found it difficult to practice self-care, let alone meet your own needs first.

Self-care has almost felt like a luxury in these times of chaos. You’re focused on surviving, on getting through. And if you’re a woman, you’re most likely taking on the care of those around you as well. Have the kids eaten, is the laundry done, who still needs their shots, will a dog boost the family’s mental health, has everyone gotten fresh air and exercise? Are all the bodies clean? Do we have enough toilet paper?

Who would have thought at the beginning of 2022 that we’d find ourselves here? Exhausted, stressed, and on the edge of burnout on not just one thing but almost everything. A friend texted me this week and asked, “How do people keep showing up to life?” Most, if not all, can relate to this sentiment. 

Two years of Covid has changed so much. Life is different. People are different. And yes, it’s tough to show up some days. For me, it doesn’t feel like my own skin. It doesn’t fit well, yet it’s reality.

You’re part of the business owners club. The women entrepreneurs gang. What can you do to not just make it through each day, but to learn to thrive?


The Benefits of Self-Care

Right now, self-care may seem like a pipe dream. But trust me, you’ll reap all the benefits. You’ll:

  • Have more energy.
  • Enjoy a better work life balance.
  • Stay on top of your task list.
  • Have time, energy and desire to stay healthy.
  • Be eating healthy.
  • Love your life and the people in it so much more.
  • And as ironic as it sounds, you’ll get more done.

A daily routine of self-care prevents burnout and promotes all kinds of healthy habits. You might even have extra time to hang at your local coffee shop!


Better self-care for female entrepreneurs means:


1. Your Own Needs are Important

Why is it so difficult to acknowledge not just that you have needs, but that they’re important enough to prioritize? Why do you feel guilty about having needs? Instead, you probably measure your own happiness levels by how happy the people around you are.

When asked how you’re doing, you may respond: “My partner is doing so well in his job! He’s up for a promotion soon. And my kids are all in sports. My kid just made their first soccer goal last week. We picked up a pizza on the way home to celebrate.” This “happiness by proxy” is not an accurate measure of your own happiness. It’s not an accurate reflection of your own level of satisfaction in life. 

As a woman, you’ve been conditioned from a young age to nurture and sustain and support the people around you. Often, the measuring stick of your accomplishment in life is the success of those efforts. And on the flip side, you’re failing if the people around your are not happy and thriving. What a brutal culture!

But here’s the actual truth: you can’t sustain success (no matter how you define it) if you’re not taking care of you. It’s far from selfish to take care of your own needs. To charge your batteries. To step away, whether it be for a few minutes or a few days.

There is nothing alive today that can continuing outputting without some sort of input. That’s true even for things that aren’t alive: When was the last time your phone charged itself? Or your oven worked without being plugged in to the electric grid or the gas line?

Happy by proxy isn’t really happy.

2. You Can Build a Culture of Self-Sufficiency

You’re probably already balking at this headline, am I right? But hear me out. If you’ve ever flown, you’ve heard the safety spiel. “Here’s how to buckle your seat belt. These lines will guide you in case of an emergency. Your seat is a flotation device. And here’s how to put on your oxygen mask.

They’re teaching you things that you can do to stay safe that are within your control. THIS is the type of self-sufficiency I’m talking about.

Can you imagine the chaos if the flight crew had to buckle everyone’s seat belts? It will never happen. The flight crew shares this information so you can take care of your basic needs in event something goes awry during the flight. This frees them up and allows them to take care of other, more complicated needs that will help all passengers.

Their instructions empower everyone on the plane to know how to act if the need arises. 

It’s easy for a nurturer to unintentionally build dependency into those they nurture. (Let’s be real, it’s nice to be needed!) Flip that script! Instead, consider how you can instill a sense of self-sufficiency in those around you. Are there a few easy dinner recipes your partner or kids can learn? Are there some tasks at work you can teach a team member to do?

Take a few minutes to think of the things that people depend on you for and consider a few ways you can empower them to find a way through without you. Because, like the flight crew, this will empower you to take care of other tasks. Things like self-care and building strong support network.


3. You MUST Schedule Time for Self-Care

My first reaction to this call to action was to laugh. (Okay, maybe more like a very unladylike snort…) Nobody has time for that! My schedule was filled to the brim and I never had enough time to do all.the.things. But here’s the crazy, simple, doesn’t-make-sense math of self-care: When you take time for self-care, you gain time through greater peace, greater efficiency, clearer thinking, and a whole lot more joy. 

Take a rabbit trail with me… What changes in your actions when you love someone? You do everything you can to make their life better: emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. Make time for things they’re interested in. Seek out activities that would bring them joy. And you find things to pique their interest and spark new ideas. 

Now let’s walk that bridge back to self-care, which, in essence, is self-love. How can you start loving yourself?

What self-care can you schedule this week? Next week? This month? How about this year? It’s time to pull out your calendar and block off some time for self-care. The important part is to prioritize it. Make it the first thing you schedule each week. And then don’t move it. Don’t skip it. Don’t gloss over your self-care appointment with yourself. 

The power of these little choices can be life changing! Once you make self-care a routine, it won’t take long at all before you begin to see the benefits. The people around you will notice, too! Because you’ll be a calm, steady presence, a woman who is refreshed and ready for whatever comes her way.




A Reminder for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

How are you holding up? We’re post-Covid but not post-chaos.

In full transparency, my answer usually depends on what day someone asks me, whether or not it’s sunny, and how I’m holding my pen. In other words, everything completely shifts hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. And at times, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Tuesday I was on top of the world — I had been able to work efficiently out on the back patio, get a ton done, and have time for a little yard work when I was done.

Wednesday felt like it blew up in my face and I never really recovered. I was constantly overwhelmed, felt tired and cranky and didn’t want to do anything.

But then last night I went out front and got my hands in the dirt. I cut some daisies and put them in a jaunty green vase. I watered a few plants. Cut some lavender. And pulled out some mounding ground cover so my Yucca plants could breathe. And suddenly I realized I was happy.  

Happiness Is Possible, Even In the Chaos

It felt like a shiny jewel as it shimmered in my awareness. I felt lighter. Despite the moodiness and frustration and insane expectations of the day, in that moment, the mess all fell away into a vast hopefulness. I almost felt silly to have wasted emotional energy on it. 

My front lawn is overgrown but I don’t want to cut it yet because the bees are loving the clover. And I’m loving the bees. So much so that I spent at least 30 minutes sitting on my sun-warmed step, watching the sun go down as they bounced from clover to clover. I didn’t have my phone. Didn’t read my kindle. Didn’t listen to anything but the birds. My soul needed the space. I needed to see that this very small part of the world was doing okay. That there was life and normalcy. 

Cutting Lavendar and pulling weeds brings me joy

Lean Into Nature When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

This summer, I’m finding that nature provides this gift of space and reality for me. The weeding doesn’t feel like work. Removing sod makes my heart sing even though it ruins my nails. To see plants pushing upward, to find a curling worm wriggling through dirt, and to hear the birds twitter and sing from fencepost to arborvite to cedar tree to my giant maple  — it’s like a symphony. 

I think part of it is the way that the natural world continues on, even though everything else around us is endless shifting. The world is in dizzying chaos. Yet it’s not. The breeze still blows. The sunlight still sparkles through the trees. The day turns to night and turns to day again. The moon is still waxing and waning.

These days I’m choosing to focus on these beautiful things that are steady and constant. I’m grounded. Nature has become a safe place. My trees are planted solidly in the ground and give shade when it’s sunny. They flex in the wind. And the millions of creatures in my yard — from ants to spiders to raccoons to my own three little puppies — are carrying on. 

Puppies enjoying nature — in the yard

So if you’re working hard and can’t seem to find a space to rest, I see you. And if you’re part of the women business owner crew, remember this: slowing down can help. Pausing is okay. Take 30 minutes to just sit and breathe and observe — electronics free. Let the trees and the grass and the flowers be your social support. She can help reduce your stress.

Get the thoughts out of your head and let the ground soak up any negative emotions. Let it support your in stressful moments. Allow any overwhelming thoughts flow out of your head as easily as the dandelion fluff takes off in the wind.

Give yourself permission to get out in nature. Observe her in her full beauty. And take your cues from her. She has her own set of coping strategies. But always, she’s resilient and slow and steady and sure.



Please Know This:

It’s good to talk to a mental health professional. (How we all could do better in life if we did this regularly!) They can help you manage your anxiety, support your physical health, any physical symptoms, help you set boundaries and deal with negative thoughts. And they’re absolutely the best for any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll ALL about that! And best yet, many now offer online therapy. 

Take a Deep Breath, Everything Will Be Okay in the End

If you’re like me, you hold your breath often.

I catch myself at it, shoulders raised, barely breathing. In a scary movie scene. When I’m in pain. When emotions take the upper hand and I’m trying not to cry. When I hold a newborn or cuddle a puppy. I take a deep breath in, but then the breath stops. 

These past weeks, I’ve been holding my breath a lot lately. Sometimes for reasons that are obvious to me (fatigue, kids moving out to follow their dreams), but other times for reasons I can’t quite grasp — the frozen dew on the clover out front. The moon glinting through the trees, full and bright. The crispness of the air when I walk the dog. The snow falling in clumps after days of waiting.

frozen dew on clover makes me want to hold my breath

As if by stilling the breath all reality stops — the dreaded thing doesn’t happen or the beautiful thing doesn’t pass.

We hold our breath when emotions threaten to run rampant in our hearts, take over our bodies, and leave us helpless in their wake. Sometimes that’s a good thing — feeling so deeply it stops our hearts. Sometimes it isn’t.

We women feel deeply.

We see our weakness and lean on each other for strength. In relationships, whether with family, friends, or clients, we build broadly, invest generously, and reap gloriously. But it takes energy, sacrifice, and sometimes sheer will power. And sometimes it’s terrifying.

Even tonight as I sit with my laptop, I have to consciously lower my shoulders and breathe deep with intention into my belly then release. Not because I’m tense or upset, but because I’ve been hauling today to get everything done. It’s been a high focus, high productivity week but I find my body stays keyed up for a long time afterwards. Or it’s perpetually stuck in high alert mode.

Trauma can cause us to take a deep breath. And then hold it.

Overwhelm can as well. How intimately I know this, friend. It can be from a difficult past. A difficult now. We’re moms and businesswomen, so there’s the never-ending laundry pile, the meal planning, the housecleaning, the kid raising. Serving every client, stretching every dollar, squeezing every moment with every last drop of energy we have. 

We’re multi-taskers, monster smashers, encouragement splashers, the always-there-for-everyone-at-a-moment’s-notice MASTERS. 

Yes. That’s us. We do a lot. Every single day, we move mountains. We do it beautifully, even if it feels messy. We take the next step or five. We push our passions and our souls outside our bodies into action. This takes bravery. And courage. But it takes effort. A lot of effort.

We need to take care of us so we can keep being everything we are. We need take a deep breath, then remember to breathe it out. Drop the shoulders. Release the tension. Embrace self-care like it’s our life safer. Because it is.

Self-care is our lifeline.

A healthy self-care practice demands we address our inner tensions. Makes sure we leave white space on our calendar when we’re tired. Self-care demands we push for balance. For moments of calm in between the incessant intensity that is being a woman, a business owner, and a mom. Because in doing so we allow ourselves to lean into the friction rather than brace against it. 

Self-care allows us to bear witness to the fact that the hard moment will pass, just as the air will flow again through our bodies after a deep breath. Self-care allows us to remember that we won’t stay in this tension forever. That just as the sun slides across the wall every day, so will this season pass. It allows us to see that there is a solution, even if it’s a momentary step away or a redistribution of responsibilities.

Choosing self-care doesn’t mean we’re weak.

It means we’re human! When we practice self-care, we see our strengths and find ways to hone them. We’re able to acknowledge our power, our gifts, and then provide space for them to grow. 

So take a deep breath, mama. Let it all the way out. It’s a little choice with great power. Let’s lower our shoulders. Close our eyes for a moment and smile at the future. Our dreams are worth pursuing!

How to Let Go of Things You Can’t Control

My son with fighter pilot dreams ships out to Marine Boot Camp on Monday.

We’ve known for months that December 9 was The Date. When this former theater geek told me he wanted to be a Marine pilot back in May, he completely blindsided me. But I sucked in all my sputtering emotions and asked, “Okay, what do I need to do to help you?” We signed the paperwork, he started the Delayed Entry Program, and the dream began to take solid shape. And in shaping of his own future, he started to embrace new things. And he learned how to let go of things you can’t control.

He turned the corner from malaise to stalwart purpose. He started working out. Began learning Marine history and memorizing the Code of Conduct. And he hasn’t wavered. 

But his ship-out date now rests in the hands of the United States Postal Service.

It’s a crazy muddled mess borne of my boy trying to do the right thing. He got his driver’s permit at the end of October. The day before Thanksgiving he passed his driver’s test. The DMV punched a hole in his Washington State ID and told him his official driver’s license was in the mail. Which it is.

But in the meantime this left him without a legal ID. Which means the military can’t let him fly. Which means that if his driver’s license doesn’t show up in the mail in the next 30 hours, he can’t ship out. His buddy will have to head to Boot without him. And if he doesn’t ship, another family loses their recruit earlier than they expected. 

Suffice it to say, with everything else going on around here, it’s been a stressful week. I’m exhausted. I ache all over. And I can’t think straight.

Too many plates are spinning and I’m getting dizzy.

I feel like I’m living in a parallel universe, one where up is down and the craziest uncertainties are the normal realities. I’ve been dousing myself in Peace and Calming. I’ve cut back on coffee. I’m trying to eat healthy.

Despite all this, I crawled into bed at 6:53 last evening, fatigue taking over. My brain didn’t capitulate and instead flashed a steady stream of newly imprinted Marine acronyms: ASVAB. MEPS. PT. MCRD. IST. PST. CFT. MOS. MCT. SERE. The Matrix. The Crucible.

Change is learning how to let go of things you can't control

But I realized something in that dark moment of exhaustion, staring up at an even darker ceiling, unable to sleep.

I can’t fix my problems without letting go of the things I can’t control.

My heart is the part that’s all flummoxed. I need to take my own advice and move forward with my Next 5 Steps. And when I’m done, I need to start them over again. 

Deep breath. Goodness flows in.

Slow exhale. Tension flows out. 

Eyes close. My shoulders drop as my belly expands. 

Deep breath. Jaw loosen.

Slow exhale. Feet root into the solid earth.

Palms open. I was made to bend but not break.

Deep breath. I am safe.

Slow exhale. I am loved.

Trust the process. If he stays another week, it’s our gain.
If he goes, he’s one week closer to his strengths becoming stronger.

Practice patience. The flower unfolds one petal at a time.

Say thank you. There is beauty in the slow opening.

Savor every moment. Don’t rush ahead. Don’t hold tightly to the past. Color nothing with complaints. Accept. Grow. Move forward.

When you learn how to let go of things you can’t control, a quiet calm returns.

I have two hours before mail delivery. I don’t know if the postman will leave my son’s license. But I must remind myself that knowing whether or not his license is in the mail changes nothing about the future. The part that changes the future is how I think about this whole experience. That’s where it gets down to fixing problems. I can fight the unknown and waste this moment. Or I can lean in and live fully present. 

Are you going through a heart-jittering season right now as well?

Are your kids sick or your profits slagging or your marriage tottering? I feel you. I’m here in the mucky middle with you. Take it one moment at a time. One hour, one minute, one second to the next. 

Focus on today with me, the moments we’re in right now. We’re in this together. And that’s part of what makes this life so good. When we live in community, we can start learning how to let go of things we can’t control.