Why Wellness Wednesdays & My Story of Burnout

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I recently got asked why I share about wellness being a brand designer and content creator. SO I figured it was about time to share my heart behind it all and my own story of burnout as an entrepreneur. Dive into this week's edition of Wellness Wednesday!

I was recently asked why I share about health and wellness at all as a brand designer and content creator. This person was new to my space and I completely understand the question and why someone would wonder about it. Like, hey Kara – stay in your lane why don’t you! However, it’s not until people hear my story of burnout and the implications it had on my health that it makes complete sense as to why I would share my health journey. So today, I thought I would pull back the curtain a bit and share a story that might sound all too familiar for my fellow entrepreneurs. A tale of ambition, burnout, and ultimately, making it my mission to find my own version of balance and maybe help others do the same. If you’ve ever felt like you’re juggling too much while balancing on a tightrope? You’re not alone. And this one is for you.

Chapter 01: The Glamorous Grind

It was almost eight years ago. Like any high-achieving entrepreneur working to make their goals happen, I was doing the damn thing. By day, I was the visual director for a global product company. By night (and often into the wee hours of the morning), I was re-building my brand as a designer and content creator after making the pivot from my career as a lifestyle and commercial photographer. At the time I also had four young kids at home while the Bearded Gent had one foot in the role of stay-at-home dad and the other in building and running his own business. I was thriving on the hustle, fueled by Red Bull and adrenaline, and completely ignoring the ticking time bomb that was my mental and physical health.

I mean, who needs sleep anyway, right? Sleep is for the weak! Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself. After all, I come from sturdy entrepreneurial stock. My father lived by the motto of simply “working harder” if there were more wants or needs within our lifestyle. What can I say, for better or worse I am my father’s daughter. 

My calendar was my best friend, filled to the brim with back-to-back meetings, deadlines, and creative projects. I glorified being busy and wore my exhaustion like a badge of honor. After all, I was making big things happen for myself and for our family. I was unstoppable… until I wasn’t.

Chapter 02: The Crash

If you don’t find the time to rest, your body is going to choose it for you. And it’s not going to be pretty. *Spoiler alert* Burnout doesn’t knock politely. It crashes through your door like an uninvited guest who’s come to stay indefinitely. One minute, I was running at full speed, and the next? I was lying in bed in the fetal position, unable to get up. The stress had taken its toll, leading to a nervous breakdown that left me questioning everything (the original post from 2016 that I wrote on this part of the story).

Burnout didn’t just take away my motivation; it stole my creativity, my joy. And the health implications were horrific (I’m still healing them to this day). Sure, I had noticed the weight gain and the growing lack of energy, but seemingly overnight I was experiencing debilitating anxiety that made it hard leaving the house and had me running from social situations. I mean, I have spoken on stage, live in front of thousands of people! And suddenly? I was a shell of a human who couldn’t even speak in our church congregation without having physical symptoms. Digestive issues reared their ugly head, my hormones were completely out of whack, I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I realized I had been neglecting the most important project of all: myself.

Chapter 03: The Wake-Up Call

After hitting rock bottom, I knew something had to change. I couldn’t continue down this path of self-destruction. Four little ones were watching me and needed me to stick around for the long haul. It was time to prioritize my well-being and learn how to manage my stress effectively. This wasn’t just about bouncing back; it was about rebuilding a sustainable way of working and living. And doing it well.

But here’s the thing – what takes years to create is going to take years to undo. Patience was and still is key in the journey back to myself. Because life is still going to life. Stress is still going to be present. And sometimes the journey is two steps forward and one step back because old habits? They die a slow and painful death sometimes.

And so, Wellness Wednesday was born just a few years ago. It started with a personal commitment to take better care of myself, but then evolved into a mission to help others keep from experiencing what I did. A way to help other entrepreneurs who may be struggling. Because let’s face it, we’re all in this together.

The Epidemic of Entrepreneur Burnout

Did you know that 75% of entrepreneurs are concerned for their mental health? Yup, you read that right. And that 56% have actually been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or stress-related problems? (And 93% said they would do it all over again…. that is a discussion for another day, friends).

Burnout is an epidemic in our community. The pressure to constantly innovate, compete, and grow can lead to a toxic cycle of overwork, under-rest, and absolutely no boundaries. We push ourselves to the brink, thinking that’s what it takes to succeed. But what good is success if we’re too burned out to enjoy it?

Finding a Balance

Let’s be real. If you are growing and running a business while also growing tiny humans, balance is not a reality. And that is OK. We just have to find our own version of it. And what does that look like? It’s different for everyone, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Managing stress: This isn’t about eliminating stress entirely (because, let’s be real, that’s impossible). It’s about managing it better. Meditation, daily exercise, and even just taking a few minutes each day to breathe deeply can make a world of difference. Trust me.
  2. Reducing our toxin load: This goes beyond just what we eat (but actually eating proper meals every day is a basic human need we need to be doing). It’s about reducing the toxic load in our lives, choosing better and cleaner products that don’t take a toll on our health, and even removing negative people in our circles to adjusting overwhelming workloads. Sometimes, a little decluttering can go a long way, you know?
  3. Balancing chasing the dream with actually living: It’s easy to get caught up in building our dreams and forget to live in the present. I absolutely love what I do and could do it every hour of the day. However, make time for your family, friends, and yourself. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. 
  4. Set boundaries: Learn to say no. Protect your time and energy like the precious resources they are. It’s okay to prioritize your well-being over yet another meeting or project.

Join the Wellness Wednesday Movement

Wellness Wednesday became my way of sharing these lessons and more with you. Each week, I dive into topics like stress management, healthy living, finding a version of balance in the chaotic world of entrepreneurship, and even the smallest of things like clean products that I love. My goal is to create a supportive community where we can share our experiences, learn from each other, and prioritize our health alongside our hustle.

I grew up as an entrepreneur within the hustle culture and mindset. It was ingrained in me from early on. But I truly think we can create a new narrative for what it means to be a successful entrepreneur—one where our well-being isn’t sacrificed on the altar of ambition. Remember, your health is your greatest asset. Take care of yourself first, and everything else will follow. Here’s to discovering our own version of balance, wellness, and thriving in every aspect of our lives.

P.S. I would love to make sure and include you in my weekly letter. If you haven’t signed up to receive them, be sure and drop your email below!

 


P.P.S. If you would like to dive into more editions of Wellness Wednesday, click right here!
 

June 12, 2024

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