Being a Black or Brown woman comes with its own set of challenges, but being a Black and Brown woman entrepreneur can sometimes feel like an entirely different beast. The truth is, when you're the only one navigating spaces with little to no diversity, it can be hard to maintain a healthy perspective on the world around you. Often, Black and Brown women entrepreneurs find themselves in situations that cause feelings of isolation and disenfranchisement. A concluded study from the National Library of Medicine reported that the level of mental health decline and mental health deterioration increased for those who reported two or more experiences of discrimination.
In reality, as a Black and Brown woman small business owner, you have to work a bit harder to get where you want to be. However, you might have grown accustomed to handling racism before it would ever affect your mental or physical integrity. These experiences build on each other and can chip away at your emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Race-related stress can make it hard to have the space needed to take care of yourself as an entrepreneur, which reduces the emotional space you need to focus on your business adequately.
In this article, we share some insights on how women can take care of themselves during moments of inequity.
1. Don't Get Stuck In An Echo Chamber
It's essential to surround yourself with people and resources that can help you grow and stay informed. But, it's also important to be aware of your surroundings and not let the wrong people seep into your space, especially as a Black and Brown woman entrepreneur. So, reduce your exposure to race-related matters. Each time you come across this kind of content, it triggers adverse reactions such as rage, sadness, fear, guilt, etc. Consume these frequencies long enough, and it will increase the stress in your body. If you feel overwhelmed by negative news or are having a hard time dealing with race-related stress, take a break from social media whenever you feel the need. It's okay to protect your mental health first. There's a difference between being informed and being emotionally hijacked by the trauma on the internet.
2. Seek Safe Spaces
When you've experienced inequities on multiple occasions, you must have a support system in place where you can share your hurtful experiences in a supportive and safe space. Research has shown that strong relationships are vital for mental health and survival; therefore, finding a support system is critical. This could be a friend, family member, or someone else in your community who has gone through similar experiences. Always find someone to talk to when you're feeling overwhelmed. The Black Girl Ventures community is a great place to start.
3. Take Pauses Throughout Your Day To Breathe
The body holds on to stress. To begin releasing stress from the body, try deep breathing exercises to help release feelings of tension and anxiety. This is one of the easiest things you can do for yourself when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but it's one that many people neglect because they're so busy or don't realize how effective it can be. Simple deep breathing exercises can help you relax enough to find clarity and center yourself to be more effective and productive in your work (and life). Bharti Yoga has an incredible 15 min pranayama practice that teaches you five deep breathing exercises.
4. Find Ways To Turn Joy Into A Verb
Do something that brings you joy—whether that's reading a book, listening to music, or taking a walk outside—do it every day as often as possible. To keep the joy train moving, start your day with joyful activities. Then find ways throughout the day to insert more joy into your day, even if it's only for a few minutes. Lastly, find something that brings you joy before you sleep. When practiced over time, these regular acts of joy when practiced over time helps to rewire the patterns of negative loops in your brain. It also encourages you to seek pockets of joy as you move throughout your life. For instance, if dancing in the morning makes your heart sing, then do that first thing in the morning.
5. Take The Time To Rest
We know that sometimes it can feel like you have to work harder than your non-Black/Brown counterparts to get ahead. This is a feeling that many Black and Brown small business owners have. However, it doesn't mean you should take on more than you can handle. Find time to rest, practice self-care, and recognize when you need a break. The Nap Ministry encourages Black women to rest. Their mission is to "examine the liberating power of naps. They believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations."
Resting doesn't look any specific way. You can define what it looks and feels like. However, what it does include is the word "no." You deserve a break, and it's completely acceptable (even healthy) to say no when people ask too much of you. If someone is asking for something unreasonable from you—or if they're asking for something reasonable and you don't have the energy—BGV gives you permission (not that you need it) to say no.
6. Spend Time In Nature
Leave your phone at home and take a walk outside or drive to your favorite park or walking trail. Research has shown that walking improves your mood, and if you do it at a slightly fast pace, it has stress-relieving benefits. Couple the walk with an abundance of nature you've created a powerful routine to support your goal of feeling better. Nature is known as the antidote for stress.
7. Remember Your Purpose
In moments of inequity, it's imperative to remember your purpose. Often, what's happening on the outside can become distractions on your path. When you're feeling derailed by the inequities, take a pause and write your purpose on a piece of paper. Jot down who you have already helped along the way or those you plan to serve. When you keep your purpose top of mind, you stand steadfast against inequalities.
As Black and Brown women, we hold so much power for the future. The weight of this responsibility can be heavy at times. It is not just the events from our past that we carry but also the weighty decisions those around us make. With this mindset, we must take care of ourselves to be equipped to continue serving others. For Black and Brown women to experience success, they must promise that they will nurture their business, mental health, and spiritual well-being. How you do that might look differently. Black and Brown women must have an anchor when outside forces deplete their energy.