Photo by Shaun Menary

No one ever said entrepreneurship was easy.

Among other things, entrepreneurship requires a thick skin, a virtual immunity to rejection, long hours of planning, and lots of networking.

All this can take a serious toll on one’s physical and mental health, something that social entrepreneurs in particular can be prone to experience—in addition to running a successful business, they must also find solutions to environmental, social, or cultural problems.

That’s why good self care is especially crucial for social entrepreneurs. Developing a self care plan— actions that protect your mental, emotional, and physical health—can help maintain a balanced, positive outlook and keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Here’s how:

Revisit Your Values
Do this early and often. Your core values are what drove you into social entrepreneurship to begin with. They’re your passion. They define your vision and your goals. Make sure that you have a visible list of your core values. Write them out and keep them in a place you’ll see every day. Each week, write down a few of your accomplishments and how they helped support your core values. Doing this will help you stay focused on your long-term goals and remind you that you’re making progress each day, no matter how small.

Find a Physical and a Mental Activity You Adore
Hate running, yoga, or the stair machine? Meditation or reading novels not your thing? Cool—they don’t have to be! Physical and mental activities are vital to your well-being because they provide much-needed stress outlets, but not if you can’t stand them. Instead, find physical and mental outlets that you’re excited about and allow you time to think about inspiration. This can be literally anything: adult coloring books, bouncing on a trampoline, or even taking a beer bath (yep!). You’ll be far more well-equipped to tackle the world’s problems when you’ve had time to process your own!

Consider How You Cope Now, and Identify Obstacles
Make a list of the specific challenges you face in terms of your emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health. What methods do you currently use to cope with the stress of those challenges? What’s working, and what’s definitely not? After you’ve made your list, see if you can apply some of your “functional” coping mechanisms to the obstacles and frustrations that you face most often. Prioritize their importance to your self-care plan. For example, some obstacles may not interfere much with your ability to maintain good self care (like learning to play Mozart’s concertos) while others may utterly sabotage it. The goal is not to make yourself “perfect”, but rather identify and find ways to effectively manage the biggest threats to your well-being.

Maintaining good self-care can be challenging for social entrepreneurs, but it’s essential in order to contribute to the greater good. Developing a simple self-care plan will help with this immensely.

What self-care practices have helped you the most?

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