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Family support, mindfulness, counselling–how women entrepreneurs take care of their mental health

Women entrepreneurs across different domains talk of the importance of mental health and what they do to ensure wellbeing in the face of insecurities, struggles, and multi-tasking.

Family support, mindfulness, counselling–how women entrepreneurs take care of their mental health

Thursday October 13, 2022 , 8 min Read

While entrepreneurship can often be a tough, lonely journey, it becomes more challenging and stressful for women entrepreneurs as they juggle various roles, being the multi-taskers they are expected to be.

Hustling, decision-making, and fund-raising while trying to strike that work-life balance can take a toll on a woman entrepreneur’s mental health.

So, what do they do to remain calm in unpleasant situations? How do they balance myriad roles? How do they ensure their mental wellbeing when no day is the same?

Some prominent women entrepreneurs share some life lessons with HerStory.

women mental health

Vineeta Singh, Swati Bhargava, Mabel Chacko and Rama Tadepalli

A good night’s sleep

Entrepreneurship in general is a very lonely journey for founders. Everyone expects us to be right always and we have the final say in everything. In the beginning, it might feel good to have that control. But soon, good founders realise they want to take a lesser number of decisions and want to only be involved in high-impact situations. 

Many families also expect them to take all the decisions on the home front. That is another full-time job that can often be very stressful. The width of decisions is also vast. It can be as mundane as deciding what to make for lunch today to as complex as ensuring your child gets the best care. 

Once I realised what hampers mental well-being, things became much better for me. I realised that on the work front, I hired capable leaders who are better at taking decisions than me on a regular basis. Delegation of work immensely helped reduce stress.” 

In fact, a big secret for mental well-being was just getting a good night’s sleep. My list of things for which I would lose sleep shrank exponentially post delegation. I also started daily exercises (small or large) which allowed me to focus on myself and improve my mental well-being. 

Last and most importantly, I have an excellent support system at home. My in-laws take care of my child while I am at work. So, I know that my child gets the best care at home and that immensely reduces stress on the personal front.

Disha Singh, CEO & Founder, Zouk

women mental health

Disha Singh, Swathi Kulkarni and Aakanksha Bhargava

Staying fit and active is crucial

Startups can be quite demanding. The long hours and the sleepless nights I’d put in, at times, made it challenging to prioritise my mental health. Hence, post-lockdown I made it a point to work out every single day, which was a big step for me compared to my three-day workout routine before. Staying fit and active is crucial to maintain not only physical health but also mental health and wellness.

A lot of people meditate to relieve stress, but for me, running has been meditative. It has the power to blissfully isolate me from my environment and enhance my focus. Running for me serves as an escape from the mundane, just as music does for most. Keeping that in mind, I make it a point to spend at least an hour a day exercising. This “me-time” helps me alleviate mental stress and increases my productivity and positivity through the day.

Vineeta Singh, CEO and Co-founder, SUGAR Cosmetics

A positive environment

An entrepreneur has several responsibilities when running an organisation. And being a woman entrepreneur, you have the added responsibility of being a caregiver as well. Often, all this stress does take a toll on your mental health. But there are things you can do to manage this. It begins with having someone to talk to, and goes as deep as building an organisational culture that encourages people to open-up.

At Open, talking about your mental health is encouraged as we have built a non-judgemental environment, where anyone can speak to anyone. When professional or neutral assistance is needed, we also have an in-house counsellor (well-being officer as we like to call it) who is available to support our teammates through personal or professional challenges that may affect their mental wellbeing.

Mabel Chacko, Co-founder, Open

Everything happens for the good

Being a mumpreneur and a woman in an industry as unorganised as relocations, I have only realised that moving is something so integral to us as humans that it can hardly be called “the other phenomenon”. Somewhere at every hour, people are moving, goods and equipment are moving, and above everything, moving seems to be a way of living for a significant part of the world. Working to address something so consistent and yet spontaneous has habituated me in a way that now it seems like a routine. We face a number of uninvited challenges, but I strongly believe that everything happens for good and results good when you’re driven by the right intent.

My go-to relaxation revolves around my passion for travelling and exploring new places. It works as an escapade and helps me re-energise to comeback even stronger.

In a similar way, reading helps me find myself in productive leisure. It exposes me to a world of freedom of thoughts, creative perspectives, constructive learning, and diverse intelligence. Watching movies is another therapeutic way for me to imbibe in myself some good entertaining vibes. I, sometimes, steal ‘me-time’ both from my child and work to watch the early morning shows. And as a romantic comedy lover, I always find it refreshing and energising.

Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO, PM Relocations

I have a wonderful therapist

Mental well-being is a subject very close to my heart. I have never hesitated to seek professional help. I am blessed to have a wonderful therapist. I read a lot on the subject. There are a few great research papers on how focusing on mental health in the workplace is crucial for business growth.

Working with animals, especially the street furries works as an amazing therapy for me. It gives a great sense of purpose. And my two pets, Dollar & Joy, are perfect anti-depressants. Walking them every morning helps me connect with them and with nature.

Rama Tadepalli, Co-founder, Mintoak Innovation

Including gratitude in daily routine

As an entrepreneur, you have no fixed work timings. It’s your business, and you want to make every day the most productive. But over the years, I’ve realised that it’s important to take time out just for yourself. Yes, there are days when I work till 11 pm, but there are also days when I wrap up my work by 7 pm, spend time with my family over dinner, or unwind with a video call with my little nephews for a good laugh. 

It’s all about maintaining a balance, ensuring you bring as much structure into your life as possible, and abiding by that routine. I ensure I wake up early to do meditation and yoga every morning at 6 am. I also inculcated the practice of gratitude in my daily routine, along with daily affirmations. Every day, before going to bed, I make sure I count all the things I am grateful for.

I practice affirmations and have inculcated gratitude in my routine to help me re-focus on my goals. Additionally, my morning yoga ritual is sacrosanct. My day starts with an hour-long yoga session comprising suryanamaskar, ashtanga, hatha yoga poses for a stronger back, and pranayama.

Swati Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro

Focus on the moment

Running a business is full of challenges, which can take a toll on the mental health of founders. Women founders, in particular, are always multitasking and balancing many things at the same time–both on the professional and personal front. At work, they have to make critical decisions almost on a daily basis. At home, they take on the role of the primary caregiver with most family members relying on them for support in different ways. All this underscores the importance of being centered. When the mind is calm, we are better placed to make the right decisions on all aspects. Women have the ability to multitask inherently, which is one of their biggest strengths. When this ability is combined with a calm mind and overall wellness, the outcomes will be great. 

I am a Vipassana meditator and ensure I get some mindful minutes throughout the day. I meditate either early in the morning or before I sleep. I also make it a point to do things very mindfully or consciously. This is called the flow experience. Rather than multitasking, I try to focus on what I am doing at that moment and do it well. It is important for me to enjoy the process and be a part of the journey. I also ensure that I take out time for meditation and exercise daily. 

Swathi Kulkarni, Co-founder & CEO, Elda Health

(The copy has been updated to correct a change in name)

Edited by Megha Reddy