It's safe to say that my first little while in Brooklyn, I was less than impressed. I was broke, I had just moved away from all my friends and family, and my partner and I had unknowingly moved into an area that was fairly homophobic. ALSO in my first week here, there was a horrifying incident involving cockroach that I won’t get into right now... Yikes. These days, however, it’s a completely different story. Our living situation is so much better, I have a job that I’m obsessed with, and I’m surrounded by a whole community of people who I really love and respect. The small business community in much of NYC is dominated by badass women, both young and old, who have all figured out how to take their passions and turn a profit off of them. Which is incredible, right? You know what they say, choose a career you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And I really believe it! My work can certainly get stressful, but there is something so satisfying about being in a crunch to finish an illustration with a deadline at nine in the morning the following day, or having to spend a whole day up to your elbows in clay and paint. It beats literally every other thing I could think about doing, and I am so blessed and thankful for it.
But then comes the problem: I don’t have an off switch. I wake up and go to sleep with my phone in my hand, because I’m always looking for the next thing I can be doing to get ahead. I had a conversation with my partner the other day, where we came to the conclusion that I’m just a “grass is always greener” type of person. I can’t recall the last time that I achieved something that I worked really hard for, and just took a moment to sit back and revel in the success. I’m always like “NICE, now what?” And I know I’m not alone! Small business owners, especially women who need to prove themselves in this monetary world run by men, have to wear every hat in their businesses. I do all of my social media and promotional work, production, email blasts, product photoshoots, shipping, networking, tabling events, and the list goes on. I see so many familiar faces at every event I go to, because there are so many women in my community who are doing exactly the same thing. It’s really the best kind of exhausting, but exhausting nonetheless.
So how do we do it? How do we find the time to switch-off, and find a moment to sit back and look at our accomplishments and think “Wow- I did all of this. I am amazing, and I deserve a moment to breathe.” I literally had to be coached by a few of my peers on how to relax and be grateful, and here’s what we came up with.
First, separate your home from your workspace. Really try not to bring the shit you do for a living into where you eat, sleep, and relax. I understand that a lot of people run their small businesses out of their homes, so to that I would say make a corner of your home the place that you work, and when you get up and walk away from it, that’s it! Leave it behind. Don’t bring that energy around the house with you.
Losing sleep over thinking about projects? Buy yourself a super cute pair of matching pjs that make you feel amazing, and once they slide up over your gorgeous body, tell yourself “I’m in my pajamas now, I am not thinking about work. I’m thinking about making a bag of popcorn and watching my favorite tv show. I am thinking about painting my nails and reading a book. That’s it” This was recommended to me by my friend and fellow business owner Rani of @RaniBanCo, and it has been the single most revolutionary thing to happen to my routine in years.
My final bit of advice for you is to take a day off. Crazy, I know. Even on days off, I found myself running back to work to get a few more things done, or sending a few more emails, making a couple calls, etc. STOP IT. Pick a day of the week that you know full well is supposed to be your day off, and treat yourself. Wake up thinking about all the hard work you’ve accomplished this week, and decide how you want to reward yourself. I do little things like soap shopping at TJ Maxx, or buying a coffee and lunch at Whole Foods, and relaxing on their patio to doodle. Once in a while, I’ll really treat myself to a manicure or a fancy dinner. Lavish, I know.
Seems simple enough, right? But I know planning for a relaxing day or evening and actually having one are two totally different things. Full disclosure, sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes I pull an all-nighter working on things, or work a seven consecutive day week, but I’m not mad about it. It’ll make that self-care time so much sweeter. At the end of the day, please just remember that you and your mental health are important, and worthy of a break.