I'd like to talk to you about fear. Lately, ordinary fears that trickle into our minds on a daily basis have intensified. Some are grappling with dwindling finances, loss of employment, the death of a loved one, or are simply worried about how to make it through each day for various other reasons. I'd like to share how I deal with fear as someone who has overcome depression and anxiety, and still manages both on a daily basis.
I live on the edge most days as an entrepreneur. When there is never enough money in the bank or hours in the day, it can be terrifying and lead to feelings of failure and depression. I've had amazing support from my fiancé, who is a serial entrepreneur and so he understands the roller coaster ride of highs and lows that is starting one's own passion project. Even with amazing support right in my household, I've had to grow emotionally stronger to remain in business. Here are some tips and tricks of the trade that apply to starting a business, but can also be applied to anything that causes you fear, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, or depression.
Spend one hour per day doing something that you truly love and brings you joy
Stand up to people who are dismissive of your need to feed your soul. Stand up and say no to your own schedule. Sometimes the calendar will bark at you, "You don't have time to go look at the sunset or visit that art museum." Maybe someone in your life is pressuring you to complete some chore ASAP. We have to be strong and say no and carve out time each day to take care of our spirit and replenish our soul with things that make us feel peaceful and happy. I like to run to get my lungs and heart pumping and circulate my blood. It makes me feel as though I've purged some bad energy and frustration. I come home from a run glowy and smiling. Recently, I've decided to run during the sunset hour here in the Catalina Foothills of Tucson, which adds one more layer of enjoyment to something that already relieved my stress. Be a little hedonistic with this practice. It's only one hour of your day each day to be totally selfish and fill your mind and body with beauty and joy.
Think of the last time you overcame a fear
Most people are stronger than they think. You have the power to push through a fear and come out to the other side. Planning and taking baby steps may be key ways to push through fear. For example, I love to draw concept maps and make lists, jot down self memos in my phone, or brainstorm on a whiteboard with my fiancé. These might seem like little baby steps towards taking action on an item that causes you to feel anxious. For me it is starting to work with factories: will they sew as well as me, will their cutting be accurate, will my goods be delivered on time, will I waste money? So a baby step toward working with a factory might be writing an email to the manager and checking on availability, or making a list of factories I want to work with. Start with small, organizing tasks that will help you gain a sense of proactivity and control over the item that is scaring you.
Remembering a time you did something that scared you and the outcome was positive may assist you in attempting some new task that scares you. This may sound silly, but I used to get such bad anxiety before a job interview that my chest and neck would flush sporadically like I was having an allergic reaction. Thinking back to all the times I nailed an interview and got that job regardless of turning red in patches gives me strength to try things that intimidate me.
Use positive self talk to encourage yourself through difficulties
If you're too harsh with yourself in your thought patterns, this can really block you from attempting things at which you might fail. You will never take risks if you beat yourself up mentally when you don't perform perfectly. There must be space in your mind for you to make mistakes and chalk them up to learning and experience. Say kind things to yourself like, "OK I tried that and it didn't work, but I'm so proud of myself for having the courage to try. At least I learned what not to do in the future." Avoid overly judgemental people who may put you down for minor things. Their voice can infiltrate your thinking and merge with your voice to yourself, which can be terribly poisonous to your self esteem and should be avoided at all costs. On several occasions, I had to walk away from my dream jobs because of overly demeaning, toxic bosses. Forgive them for what they are- emotionally stunted people- and then toss them out of your head.
The body and mind are connected, so pamper your body with exercise, deep breathing, dance, and lotions. Eat lots of leafy greens and drink lots of water
It's more or less impossible to feel mentally healthy and to feel like tackling your fears if your body doesn't feel good. We store a lot of stress in our muscles. Soaking in a warm bath of Epsom salts can be hugely instrumental in feeling physically well enough to tackle those hurdles in front of us. I like to burn incense when I feel stressed, and pamper my body with coconut lotion. If I'm dehydrated, I can't think straight, so make sure you drink plenty of water. If you're happy with your health, it clears one item off your plate to be able to focus your energy on conquering your fears.
Nature is healing
Staring at mountains or bodies of water is so cleansing and rejuvenating to the spirit. I try to make time for this once per day in the evening at sunset to clear out any lingering bad energy from my day.
Music and art are nourishing to the soul
I play music constantly while I work and will randomly burst into dance to keep myself motivated while performing tedious tasks. The dancing prevents my body from aching too much from holding a posture for too long or from the repetitive motions of drawing, sewing and making paper patterns. I fill my workspace with art made by my artist friends so my spirit stays happy.
Tackle and conquer your fears by doing the things you are afraid to do
The best thing you can do is just to do it, even if it leads to failure. When we fail, we learn. Sometimes that is the only way to learn, if you are doing something others haven't done before or if you cannot find a mentor. I plan to be a strong mentor for others in the fashion industry, because my experience has been that it is difficult to find a good mentor in this field.
Ask for feedback frequently from trusted sources
What others have to say about you can be very insightful, surprising and helpful. Sometimes I worry about things related to my business that others are actually appreciating. Reaching out to customers and asking their opinions has really buoyed my spirit when I've been in doubt about my brand or my approach.
Fear is poison to our lives. It can be a real instrument of stasis. Humanity is now in a collective period of emerging from long-term stasis that I'm sure for many has lead to feelings of being stuck, literally and metaphorically. How can we re-train ourselves to seize opportunities that come to us and also proactively create new opportunities? How can we talk ourselves into taking great care of our bodies and minds regardless of our external environments so we can achieve what we set out to achieve. I hope these tips have resonated with you and can help you elevate your life to a place that you are living each day to your best.