• How to build your own Self Care Toolbox

    It's National Stress Awareness Month, to which I say, 

    "HA, Ha haha hahahahahahahaha."

    And that's it- that's the blog post. 

    Ok, for reals, now. Stress and entrepreneurship go hand in hand like the Ever Given in the Suez Canal. And by that, I mean that they don't. But, like that bigass container ship getting stuck, stress as a business owner is inevitable. 

    Add other factors, like being a parent, having a partner or spouse, or a pet parent, and then just, you know, sprinkle in a got dang pandemic and that can mean you're on the stress superhighway and not see any exits for miles.

    There's a lot of talk about self care, which usually conjures images of bubble baths, yoga, desserts, etc. And self care can absolutely include those things if it means it helps you and your entrepreneurial brain to slow the eff down and think about something else other than your business for a few minutes a day. 

    Wait, what??

    YES, doing something non-business-related that gives you the time and space to recharge actually makes you a better business owner. 

    And guess what?

    It's one of the toughest things to incorporate into your daily routine and workflow. 

    I struggle with it daily, but it is something I continue to work toward.

    Uhhh why?

    Think about it- once you get up and and start working on or in your business, it can be tough to deal with interruptions (*cough* kids in remote learning *cough*), and sometimes it's tough to just take a break to eat or exercise. I get it. 

    But even if you LOVE what you do, it's good to break out of that go-go-go mode on a regular basis or else you'll burn out quick. You might already be burned out.

    via GIPHY

    Image Description: GIF of Justin Timberlake in a suit giving you the "look" to indicate you're probably already burned out. 

    Giving yourself some dedicated time for self care every day is a way to help your future self, help spark your creativity, and offer a more well-rounded human experience. 


    Here's the tricky part: it depends. Self care is different for everyone, and it might not look the same every day. I know, that's totally not helpful at all. This isn't going to be a listicle of self care activities for you to read halfway, bookmark to read later, and then never read it again (ask me how I know).

    The first thing you'll want to do is figure out your very own Self Care Toolbox, and that may take some time. But creating your own Self Care Toolbox is the best gift you could give yourself, so give yourself time to work on it. It doesn't need to be an all-encompassing list; if you're feeling stressed about the prospect of thinking of things that don't stress you out, start small! Make a list of three. Over time, you'll probably add to it here and there as thoughts come up.  

    Think about times when you have felt calmer, more at peace, or you felt like you've made a choice that made you feel good about yourself. What is happening during those times is as unique as you are. 

    It could be the feeling you have once you've finally called that doctor's office to pay your bill. Or how you feel after sticking with a week of consistent exercise. It could even be how it feels to block off your schedule so you don't have too many Zoom calls during the week and are absolutely fried by Thursday. 

    One thing to watch out for when building out your toolbox is being intentional about what goes into that toolbox- if it starts to feel like a todo list, it's time to reassess. 

    To help those mental gears to start spinning for your own list, here are some examples of some of the things in my own Self Care Toolbox:

    • Getting my hair cut

    • Taking a bath with a book and a cider (my family gifted me a super cool shelf for the bathtub so I don't spill my cider and soak my book)

    • Exercise! I used to get hung up on my own standards in that if I couldn't fit in at least 30 minutes to an hour for exercise, then I wasn't going to do it. Fast-forward to recovering from cancer treatment and surgery, and I had to change my standards; even 10-15 minutes of yoga or a short walk was always beneficial and made me feel better.

    • Sewing or making art. Ok, I knoooow this one looks like a "work" thing, and in a way it is. But sometimes zoning out while doing a bunch of stitching (even hand embroidery) does wonders for my stress levels.

    • Drawing a daily tarot or oracle card. I LOVE tarot and astrology, and doing this every day offers me a way to be present and center myself. 

    • Playing board games with my family

    • Wearing a bit of makeup- this is definitely not an everyday thing- I've had to work really hard to reframe my thoughts about wearing makeup as less of a daily obligation, less of a "I look tired today, let's put some makeup on," and more about a "I love adding a little bit of mascara because I WANT to today."

    • Saying no. This is a TOUGH one for me, as I tend to be a people-pleaser, and it usually ends up with me sacrificing my time and energy, which are precious commodities, especially these days.

    • Forgiving myself. I tend to have a really tough internal monologue when it comes to my productivity and time management. With my ADHD brain, that means time blindness and hyperfocus make planning my day incredibly tough. I have a terrible idea of how long things take to do (and yes, I've timed myself countless times), and I tend to overschedule my day and tasks. It can be a cycle of self-loathing, and it's taken a verrry long time for me to think about most of my deadlines as my own high standards that can be more flexible, and it's ok if something remains on my list longer than I had hoped. 

    Those are just a few of the things in my toolbox. I recently downloaded a meditation app and am seeing if that's a good fit to also add to my toolbox. So it's a constantly evolving toolbox- the tools are always changing, too. 

    Holly Marsh
    Holly Marsh

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