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It’s really easy to feel like one or maybe both of these words completely defines you as a person. It doesn’t. You as a whole are not anxiety or depression. You’re a lovely human being who just happens to have to deal with these cruel beasts. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner or even have dreams of starting one you may struggle with making this work because of doubts and what if’s holding you back. BUT here’s the facts: your business should work for YOU and your life, whatever that looks like. NOT the opposite way around. It might mean more work on good days and setting up really solid systems but it definitely can be done. If that isn’t your goal and you just want to make your personal life more enjoyable that also CAN (and will, I have faith in you) be done!
So here are my best tips for anyone struggling with anxiety and/or depression and specifically how you can crush being a business owner even if you’re dealing with these, and not let it define you! Disclaimer: These are all just from my own personal experience and I’m definitely not attempting to treat or cure anything, so take anything that’s useful to you and leave the rest.
1. Have A Routine
I know, I know. Having a routine can be so hard if you’re mentally struggling and being told you need to have one can make it even more overwhelming – so when I suggest a routine I’m not talking about some picture perfect routine or a routine someone who doesn’t struggle with their mental health might have. Definitely not talking about the wake up at 5 am to workout and then work 9-5 and come back home to make a perfect dinner for your husband TikToks you see. If you can manage all that, more power to you, but for me and I know a lot of other people having a routine that looks like that is just NOT realistic. I’m all about making your life and business work for you – not the opposite way around – so I’m talking about a routine that works for the way you feel and the way YOUR life looks. Not comparing it to someone else’s. Please don’t compare yourself. There are so many different factors that go into why this is a bad idea like them being a totally different person with a totally different set of circumstances than you so going down that route is just a trap.
So how do you create a routine that works for you? I personally start with things that I already do almost everyday or love the way it feels, like a ritual or something that I love to do, so it’s automatically not a burden or something that’s gonna weigh me down more.
Make sure it’s realistic for how your life actually looks. I am NOT a morning person. I love mornings, but mornings and me just don’t bode well together so I don’t try to force myself to wake up at time that doesn’t make sense for me. No way Jose 5am. See ya later alligator 7am. I like to get up around 9-9:30 and that works great for me because I’m a night owl and stay up later than the average person.
I love having a “morning” routine though because it helps me stay intentional and focused. Even if I end up doing it later than morning time I still love to follow a little list of things I love because it sets the tone for my whole day and helps me get a lot more of my personal and business goals accomplished.
So do what works for you.
This applies if you’re running a business too. There’s no one way to run a business. There’s so many different ways you can tweak things and make it work for you. What you DO need to have are SYSTEMS in place. If you have solid systems in place then you don’t have to worry about having some “perfect” routine and instead can have parts of your business on auto mode so it can run even when you can’t.
I personally use Honeybook and Asana to help us manage our systems and keep us organized.
Asana is an app that helps you keep track of lists and tasks. It’s free and especially great if you have a team of people because then everyone can be linked to the same lists! I personal keep all of our workflows organized in there so I can seamless move our couples through each stage of working with us from the second they reach out to us to when we send over their gallery and even beyond! I also love making it into a widget on my phone that way I can at a glance see what I need to accomplish for the day.
If you’re just looking for a list making app I love Reminders on iphones or the MinimaList app as well. I also have both of those made into widgets.
Honeybook is absolutely amazing and is the biggest part of keeping the backend of our business running smoothly. I decided to splurge and get it when I was a newbie photographer and have never looked back. It’s a CRM (customer management system) that helps you keep all of your clients and projects organized. It keeps track of exactly where in the process each client is, it keeps track of all your emails back and forth, keeps your contracts, questionnaires and timelines right at your fingertips, and even takes care of invoices, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of when payments are due, or mess with cash or checks. The great thing about this is that you can create email workflows in HoneyBook to set up ahead of time so you never forget to send emails to clients and can set it up to automatically send so you have a more simple and less time eating process so you’re not having to type up the same emails over and over again.
Note: I don’t think automatic emails work for everything and every business, for instance when people reach out to us we always take the time to type out fresh and personable responses but there are some things that can be automized, especially if you’re a product based business so in that case I say go for it!
2. Change Of Scenery
Go for a walk or hike. Taking a walk. Grounding.
Anything to switch up your current environment and reenergize you. I love sleep and I’m really getting into grounding. I watched the Earthing movie on Youtube and now my whole perspective on that has completely changed after seeing how science and fact based it is. Often, it can hard for me to get out of bed if I’m going through a rough patch but committing to doing just ONE of these things a day always makes me feel better. I actually really look forward to it so often I’ll plan to do one of these in the afternoon so I’m excited looking forward to it all day.
When you’re working trying to take a break and do something to change up your scenery BEFORE you start to feel drained and burnt out. I find if I reach that point I feel so much more exhausted even if I still go ahead and do things that usually make me feel better.
A great tool to use for grounding is this grounding mat. I just ordered one and can’t wait to try it out! Click here to see the one I ordered.
3. Fill Your Life With The Things You Love
Yes, no matter how much you love your life or are grateful for the things you love, you can still seriously struggle with depression and anxiety. But I do find that it’s a little less of a struggle if I really hone in on the little things that make life beautiful and meaningful to me. The little luxuries that make you giddy with excitement and feel like sunshine. For me those are: Many many cups of tea. A good movie. Cozy blankets. A delicious smelling candle. My morning latte. There’s nothing like delicious frothy oat milk latte with caramel drizzled on top. I love ending the day with a hot Epsom salt bath. To me life is more about the small things you can do everyday to bring joy into your life rather than big things that come and go. I’ve found the more I try to incorporate these little things little by little the happier I am.
Create a workspace that you’re excited and motivated to work in. We cut gorgeous + creative photos out of wedding magazines and made a mood board above our desk. I also love to keep things neat and tidy so I don’t get distracted. Stinky note you goals in front of you, so you can see them while you’re working and what you’re working towards. We made digital moodboards that we keep on our phones to remind us why we work so hard. Light a candle to keep close while you’re working. Work can be so so enjoyable if you reframe your mind and focus on all the positives.
Something I’ve learned about myself this year is that I hold things in and let it all build up way more than I ever realized. (To the point that it’s literally a disorder called Conversion Disorder and can cause me symptoms I do NOT like but that’s a whole other story lol) Journaling has been the perfect thing to help me process through hard emotions or even figure out how I’m feeling in the first place. I keep a journal close by and anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed or just off or even if I just have some extra time on my hands I grab it and wrote down anything and everything. The things that don’t make sense. The things I’m figuring out. It’s all okay to put in there because it’s only for you. You don’t have to risk judgement or worry if it’ll make sense. Just put it down and you might find as I often do that a lot of things I put down I don’t pick back up and carry with me. It gets it out of my brain and into a place where it isn’t causing me anxiety or sadness.
I follow a similar process for work related things by creating a “Dump List” where I put any and all work things in my mind either down on paper or one of the apps I mentioned earlier to get it down so I 1. Don’t forget and 2. Get Overwhelemd and start to obsess with all the things I have to do.
Another handy tool I’ve found are the Therapy Notebooks. Basically, it’s a journal that was created by therapists and it utilizes CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) to help you work through moments of anxiety. If there’s anything personal or business related I’m anxious or worried about and can not get off my mind I’ll work through the journal to identify exactly how I’m feeling and then come up with a list of tangible things I can do about it or realize it’s something I have no control over and try to let it go.
Reading is something I turn to for daily encouragement or for the moments I just need a break to escape whatever I’m dealing with. It’s something that’s been a lifelong love for me and something that I find real healing and comfort in, as well as it being entertaining and productive.
6. Night Time Ritual
A what?? Yeah I know this seems really extra and I know you’re thinking who in the heck has time for that or maybe you have kids and are like this is literally impossible. But even a super simple and short night time routine can be so relaxing, beneficial, and set you up for the next day in the best way! If you wanna create one and make it a new ritual you have feel free to include whatever you want but here’s what mine looks like.
1. Start Diffuser – I love my candles (my fave are from Good + Well Supply Co + United By Blue) but a diffuser is great for night time because you don’t have to worry about forgetting to blow them out and mine has a candle flicker light mode that’s still super relaxing. Here’s two great options for diffusers, one basic one to get you started, and a splurgy one for the aesthetics. Here’s the starter diffuser. And here’s the gorgeous terracotta aesthetic one.
2. Dim Lights – I really didn’t think I was gonna love my Alexa (I have the Echo Dot) but I absolutely adore it just for being able to connect to the Hue lights alone. They dim to different brightness levels and you don’t have to pull the half asleep search for the lamp switch. Here’s the link to the Echo Dot. Here’s the link to dimmable, bluetooth Hue lightbulbs.
3. Read – I like to read something good before bed. Usually, I read my fun fiction books before bed to relax and chill and get my brain off work and then my non-fiction business books during the day.
4. Eye Mask – for real never ever got the hype of these. They seemed super pointless to me, even though I have to have it pitch dark to sleep. Then I started to have a harder time sleeping so I bought this baby and once I put it on I’m out in like 3 seconds. I specifically like this one cause its black, light weight, and feels super soft on my face.
5. White Noise – at this point I’m already trying to hone in on all the spa vibes so I full send it by having Alexa turn on soothing rain sounds. Boujee? Absolutely. Will you ever go back to sleeping any other way once trying this? Absolutely not. Again, feel free to tweak it to what you like but this has for sure helped me get better sleep and wake up feeling more rested and in a better mood.
When all else fails take a nap. Heck. Take two. I notice if I’m feeling more frazzled or on edge or even more depressed than usual it’s usually in part attributed to not getting good sleep or enough sleep. There’s nothing more important than taking care of yourself first. If you don’t you won’t be able to take care of the people who need you or do the things you want to do. So don’t ignore your needs. Go take a nap. Go to bed early. Sleep in an extra hour or two. The world can wait, boo. Take care of you.
8. Opening Up – Basically one of the hardest things on this list.
I know you don’t want to burden anyone. That you don’t want to seem depressing or bring down the mood by opening up to someone and talking about and you totally don’t have to! I’m not saying run to anyone and everyone and open up, but if you have a spouse, friend, parent, etc who you trust then I definitely think opening up and just having someone listen to you can lift your burden even if it’s just a little bit. If you don’t have someone, therapy is a fantastic option. It doesn’t mean you’re broken or that you’ve failed it means you’re strong enough to admit and seek help which is a beautiful thing. You don’t have to explain everything to your therapist all at once either or even stay with the first one you go to. I find it’s like building a professional friendship. I wasn’t super stoked on my psychiatrist the first time I saw her and I didn’t feel like opening up about certain things but slowly as I’ve gotten and continue to get to know her I’ve been opening up more and now I absolutely love her!
Honestly, there’s a bunch of little things I do everyday to help me deal with anxiety + depression and get through things, but something important to realize is that you could do everything in the book and even take all the natural supplements in the world (trust me I tried and went this route for a while) and it still not help a ton and get you to where you want to be mentally + emotionally because at the end of the day maybe you have chemicals that are off in your brain. Depression is not just a fancy word for feeling bummed out. It’s a real medical condition and if it’s something you think you’re struggling with and you haven’t seen a doctor about it, that might end up being the best option for you.
The things I listed above help me to cope – on top of a taking a medication that works great for me and seeing my psychiatrist twice a month. I honestly didn’t understand and accept that it was nothing I could personally control until my medicine started working. Before that, I had honestly been morbidly depressed and anxious for so long and didn’t even know how bad off I was because I had convinced myself that feeling the way I felt was my own fault and because I wasn’t trying hard enough. Not trying hard enough to be happy. To be positive. Or forgiving. Or confident. And all along what I was dealing with was something that was so far out of my control.
I didn’t really notice it until around 5 weeks after being on my medication I left an engagement session – and for the first time since the very beginning of starting photography – I felt proud of what I had just done and didn’t bawl the whole way home because of feeling like a failure. I wish so much I could back and hug my younger self and tell her that’s it’s not cause she isn’t trying hard enough. If you feel like this or have ever felt like this know that I do truly care about you and I’m sending you a virtual hug through the screen right now 💗
We got this. We just need empathy, understanding, and to continue helping each other along the way.
You got this. I’m sending so much empathy and understanding your way and if you need help or to talk please reach out to me.
If you have any tips you want to share that’s helped you in your own journey with anxiety and depression please feel free to share them in the comments below so we can keep helping each other out.