10 Self-Employed Women Share What They Do Every Day For Work-Life Balance
Striking the right balance between work, relationships, and personal time is an ongoing and ever-changing process for most of us. We all feel stuck at times when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance — and avoiding the awful symptoms of burnout — but taking time to research what's been successful for others can be helpful.
As Mental Health America (MHA) reported, "more than one in four Americans describe themselves as 'super stressed'" from trying to juggle work-related and personal responsibilities. However, working too much, and not taking time out your schedule for self-care, can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health.
In fact, one of the most common hangups people face when their work-life balance is off-kilter is burnout. Though burnout can look different for everyone, common signs include feeling exhausted, having trouble concentrating, experiencing physical issues like headaches, and experiencing emotional distress, or more stress than usual. Managing a healthy work-life balance, however, is key to avoiding this icky feeling. While no one maintains a perfect work-life balance all the time, taking the time to figure out what works for you personally is beyond valuable.
Haven't got a clue where to begin? Bustle spoke with 10 entrepreneurial women about how they sustain a healthy work-life balance — despite having busy schedules and big goals.
1. Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, 33
"Because so much of my work can be online for the majority of the year, sometimes it feels like I am never 'off.' However, [...] I have become extraordinarily good at putting down my phone. I schedule time to disconnect, because I’ve learned that I can get too flooded with information," Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, the writer, online content curator, and public speaker who founded Latina Rebels, tells Bustle. "Most of my self-care tends to be more integrated into my life, so it’s small acts of self-preservation that make this all doable."
She adds that her two dogs also help her feel more grounded when work becomes overwhelming. "When I am stressed, my pit bull seems to feel it before I do. She will come and start licking my hands and soothing me before I have hit a wall of online over-consumption. Through my dogs, I have learned to step away, and release in their warmth," she says.
2. Bailey Martindale, 28
Bailey Martindale, the owner of Branded Communications and National Account Strategist at Stryve, says work-life balance has become especially important to her since running her own business, while also maintaining a full-time career at a startup company.
"I have found that taking time to travel or get away is an absolute necessity for me. I’ve also found that exercise, meditation, and sleep have a massive impact on my mental health, and my performance," she says. "Thankfully, at this stage in my life, I’m single and don’t have kids, so I’m able to have a little more flexibility."
3. Bronnie Woods, 38
"I work in a loud, hectic environment where I am at risk of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse by strangers. Sex work is exhaustive, and after 13 years of stripping, well into my late thirties, I feel a strong desire to be grounded, to find the quiet," says Bronnie Woods, a stripper and the writer behind the blog Stripper Monologues. "Both customers and peers in the club environment are inclined to push my boundaries. This leaves me anxious and highly alert so, for me, a safe environment and calming activities are essential to restoring balance."
"Picking flowers, time with my animals, the calm of home, making my bed in the morning, keeping my room tidy, ignoring my appearance, adventures in nature where the birds and wind replace the sounds of traffic: Each of these activities are restorative, and provide a step toward my center," she says.
4. Ashley Finley, 29
"I used to find it really hard to balance work and my personal life. I worked extra hours from home, unpaid. I came into the office when I was sick. I stayed on call for my boss and clients. But this last year, I got incredibly sick, and was forced to take down time," Ashley Finley, a performance poet, and birth/postpartum doula who founded Sacred Sister Doula, says. "When I came back, I was fired because my work had suffered due to my slow recovery. It was then that I decided to take my life back. Now, I am self employed in a field that is meaningful, but, I learned my lesson about pouring from an empty cup."
Finley explains that much of self-care routine now revolves around scheduling her work ahead of time, attending therapy regularly, and making time for activities she enjoys. "I work really hard for my business and my clients. But, I work equally as hard for myself, now. Because I realize that I can’t give energy that I don’t have," she says. "So much of what I do is about offering peace and empowerment to others. I need to make sure that I am empowered and peaceful, so that I can succeed."
5. Nicole Emma, 38
"I left a lucrative 12-year career when I was pregnant with my second child, because I couldn’t stand the idea of dumping another kid at daycare for a 16-hour day, and seeing them right at bedtime," says Nicole Emma, a relationships and sexuality coach. "Now I work three to six hours per week, for full-time pay, and I’m home with my kids the rest of the time. I’m a sex worker because it works for my family, and I get to be at every school program and recital, every doctor appointment, and help with all their math homework. I love my life!"
6. Amy Quichiz, 23
Amy Quichiz, a writer, activist, and the co-founder of Veggie Mijas, tells Bustle that organization and planning are key to creating a healthy work-life balance. "Update your planner, always. I currently have two planners, one that I use for graduate school and the other one for Veggie Mijas, work, article ideas and other projects that I have to get done," she says. "I make sure to have a to-do lists, and set them up by highest to lowest priority so that way I do not feel overwhelmed. It is very important to me to know that I know what I am doing and when I am doing it, while also being realistic."
7. Sarah Baytop Scott, 30
"Find things that you love — work, people, hobbies. At the end of the day, if the only thing that gives you joy in life is your career, at some point you’re going to find yourself alone and burnt out with no one to turn to. It’s easier to find balance when you enjoy and truly love everything around you," Sarah Baytop Scott, the co-founder of Disruptive Tech, explains. "For me, I had to set rules and boundaries for myself so I could find time to live a fulfilling career, and still be surrounded by those I love."
8. Claire Rivers, 21
"The industries of both medicine and music are overwhelmingly male-dominated. So, as a woman juggling both fields in a freelance manner, the pressure and necessity to be bold in both fields, simply to be seen is quite clear — especially because the tone of my work is [traditionally] feminine," Claire Rivers, a musician and herbalist who founded Twin Snake Botanicals, says.
However, Rivers says that honoring her roots and staying true to her work style — despite dismissiveness she's faced from peers — has not only helped her find a healthy work-life balance, but it has "created deep connection to the world around me, as my life fuels my experiments [within my work], and my experiments drive my life."
9. Alexa Curtis, 21
Alexa Curtis, the CEO of Life Unfiltered with Alexa and host of Fearless Everyday on Radio Disney, tells Bustle, "I definitely have found out through lots of trial and error that self care is incredibly important. Since I run my own company, I have a lot of tasks on a daily basis — producing and editing two shows, booking guests, social media, blog posts, television segments. If I’m not careful with my schedule I end up burnt out and stressed out."
Curtis says that regularly exercising, meal prepping, and finding time for self-care also helps her manage her work-life balance. "I also believe in the power of time off," she says. "If I don’t want to go on Instagram one day, I don’t. It’s not going to ruin my life if I take a day or a week off."
10. Brandie Carlos, 31
"One of the things that has supported me the most [with my work-life balance] is having conversations with my manager at work about what options are available to support my mental health. For example, working from home one day a week, or changing my schedule to come in later when I’m dealing with insomnia for weeks. Because of the stigma and need to survive, most of us don’t realize that mental health is protected in the work place," says Brandie Carlos, the founder of Therapy For Latinx.
Carlos adds that finding supportive people to talk to when struggling, and accessing low-cost resources such as "development and psychology books at thrift stores, free support groups like Adult Children of Alcoholics, and local women’s circles for women of color" have also helped her manage her work-life balance.
While attaining a healthy work-life balance may be challenging at times, it's not impossible. These girlbosses prove that you don't have to choose between a career and self-care — you can have both, and you deserve it.