Practicing and prioritizing self care as a creative entrepreneur is often a challenge because self care just never seems to fit in with all the work that has to be done, especially during busy seasons. And, even when busy seasons wind down, self care still tends to get put on the back burner because—well—there’s always more work that can be done. (Enneagram 3’s, do you feel this in your bones right now?)
But, according to Mental Health Therapist Courtney L. Porter, who’s coined herself as the “self care therapist,” making self care a priority is a must for creative entrepreneurs who want their lives and businesses to thrive. (Side note: This probably goes without saying, but creative entrepreneurs aren’t notoriously great at taking care of themselves or prioritizing their mental health.)
Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Courtney has dedicated her practice to helping creative entrepreneurs and small business owners better understand and practice self care. Between her professional niche, being a business owner herself, and the fact that Courtney is married to a photographer and works alongside him, Courtney truly knows how hard self care can be for creative entrepreneurs.
And, in this episode of Priority Pursuit, Courtney defines what self care means, shares the six key elements of self care, explains why self care is important, and gives practical steps to help you start practicing and prioritizing self care as a creative entrepreneur.
If you’ve been meaning to make self care more of a priority, this episode of Priority Pursuit is for you!
Before practicing and prioritizing self care can begin, it’s important to understand what self care is. More often than not, self care gets associated with the external and outward appearance (e.g. taking bubble baths, getting your nails done, etc.), but that’s just scratching the surface because, according to Courtney, self care is really about what’s going on inside.
In fact, Courtney defines self care as “housekeeping” with this analogy: “If you’re driving through a neighborhood and see this nicely kept yard with beautiful landscaping, it seems like everything is perfect. But, then when you walk through the front door, it is total chaos with stuff strewn everywhere and dishes overflowing. That’s what self care looks like, because it isn’t about what’s happening on the outside, it’s about what’s happening inside.”
Courtney explains that self care is essentially the housekeeping of the inside of your house, and self care is comprised of six key elements: your mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and professional well-being. That’s a lot of housekeeping, so let’s break it down.
Who knew that self care encompassed so much? Based on these six elements, self care affects every area of our lives, as well as our businesses.
Okay. Maintaining all six of these elements might sound overwhelming and just feel like more work, but here’s the thing. Courtney argues that all of these elements really boil down to identifying your needs and wants.
Courtney shares that, in your career, you want to be happy and experience fulfillment in the work you do while making others (your clients) happy, and the only way that’s possible long term is if you take care of your needs and wants on a daily basis.
Friend, when you care for your needs and wants daily, you give yourself and your business the opportunity to grow and expand. Because according to Courtney, “As a small business owner, self care is the trigger and foundation to maintaining a successful career and supporting an entrepreneurial journey.”
Well, the truth is, creative entrepreneurs typically start out hustling and bustling, working to understand client needs, identifying an ideal client, and providing services that fit that target market. Courtney adds that there is a start-up mentality amongst creative entrepreneurs that is centered on pushing yourself to the brink with high expectations of doing everything yourself.
Now, working hard isn’t bad and that grind to get things off the ground when first starting out is often necessary, but Courtney shares that a key element of those beginning stages of creating your business is making self care a priority. Because, without it, that pushing-it-to-the-brink mentality creates stress and anxiety that can be difficult to cope with.
**Stress and anxiety are very real challenges and can trigger vulnerable moments for you as a creative entrepreneur. Courtney offers some helpful anxiety hacks on Instagram, and as an LCSW, she offers therapy with virtual and in-person options. It’s okay to ask for help; you don’t have to just “push through” those vulnerable moments; there are coping strategies that Courtney and other professionals offer that can help.**
So, maybe self care has been a struggle for you and something you haven’t been great at in the past, but your relationship with self care can change. Creatives often have a “to-do” list, and if self care isn’t on your “to-do” list, it likely won’t happen. So, start planning your self care!
Courtney suggests starting simple. In fact, self care is as simple as RIB (rest, identity, boundaries).
When you rest your mind, you’re able to clearly think through things that affect your business and make decisions that move the needle forward in your business. Rest gives you the chance to keep being creative, motivated, and mentally present in your business and life.
You need to know who you are as an individual so that you can operate in the purpose that’s been given to you.
Courtney says, “Everyone that exists has a gift (what comes naturally) that God has instilled, and that gift opens doors that we don’t expect because those doors open just because it is for us.” Knowing who we are allows us to operate in that gift that we have been given.
Friend, it is so easy to get caught up in what others are doing (e.g. social media posts, more clients, etc.), but you can’t seek approval from others to qualify your own gift; it belongs to you.
These are the limits and rules we put in place for our relationships and in our business. Ask yourself what is acceptable and what is not? Without boundaries, it’s easy to get pulled a little at a time, but if that happens over and over, you start getting pulled too much.
So, bottom line, self care won’t plan itself; it has to be planned on purpose, and you can start right now.
When you know what you need and want, you can start setting goals and putting together a self care plan.
Courtney shares that self care doesn’t have to be deep; it can be just 15 minutes a day doing something you enjoy, like breathing exercises, sipping a cup of coffee alone, taking a walk, or reading a book. Simply think about what you can do during the day to satisfy your needs. It will look different for everyone. You just have to do what works for and fulfills you.
Friend, give yourself grace as you begin practicing and prioritizing self care. You won’t be great at this overnight; it takes time to make new habits. And, now that you’re done reading, you can start those first 15 minutes of self care; you’ve got this!
If you’d like to connect and hear more from Courtney, you can find her on Instagram at @courtneylporterlccsw and on her website courtneylporter.com. While Courtney offers amazing free resources, she also offers both individual therapy and support groups.
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