So far in the research for my book on women, entrepreneurship and mental health, over 20 women have responded to the same series of questions.
In 2022, I will be conducting a formal analysis of the research results, but at first glance, the main themes are the ones that Carlee Myers, founder of the Stress Less Company, articulates here: persistence that leads to figuring out what works for you.
In my experience working with clients, I have also seen the idiosyncratic nature of both “symptoms” and solutions. That’s why I developed and teach the three principles of stress resilience: so women entrepreneurs could understand the underlying mechanisms and identify mental health strategies that work for them.
Carlee is an outstanding example of persistence. In her story below, she says it took her 10 years and a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked for her.
The living-forward impulse in all beings is so strong. As Gene Gendlin says,
“Every bad feeling is potential energy toward a more right way of being if you give it space to move toward its rightness.”
And that’s what Carlee did, she gave herself time and space to figure it out.
Listen or read below to find out more.
Content advisory: the text and recording below contain general details of a traumatic event and its impact.
I invite you to take a moment to check in with yourself and decide if you have the capacity to read this now, or if you want to come back to it at another time.
Hi, I’m Carlee Meyers, and I am the founder of the Stress Less Company.
I support female leaders, who are overworked and exhausted, to find that sense of peace and freedom that they really desire. I am in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The results that my clients get are: 1) being able to deepen their spiritual understanding whatever that means to them, and 2) learning those tactical tools that they need so that they can experience more free time, more efficiency, and even more prosperity.
What is my mental health story? And why does mental health or wellness matter to me?
It really boils down to an experience that I had when I was a kid. When I was 12 years old, a man was murdered in my home, and my mom was shot three times. My mom was shot actually point-blank in the back of her head. My mom was not supposed to survive that incident.
If you saw her today, you would have absolutely no idea. She made a full recovery, which is a freaking miracle.
But for me, that experience was really difficult. I ended up struggling for a really long time with the symptoms of PTSD. I was stressed with overwhelm, night terrors, jumpiness. You name it, I was probably struggling with it.
I ended up struggling for a long, long time. It took me about five years before I even opened up and told anybody what was going on.
And even when I opened up, I would say things to people, like, “Hey, I’m feeling a little stressed.” or “I’m kind of overwhelmed.” or “I’m sort of struggling right now.” And I would ask people for advice.
I got the same five or so responses every single time:
- Hey, Carly, have you tried therapy?
- Have you tried yoga?
- Have you tried meditation?
- Have you tried changing your diet?
- Have you hit the gym recently?
And from my perspective, I was like, “Are you effing kidding me? Like no shit, Sherlock!!! Who do you think I am?”
We’ve all heard of these things. And the reality was that, at that time, I was so desperate for change that I had tried all of that.
I want to be real. Some of this stuff didn’t work at all. And some of it worked a little bit. But nothing ever got me over that hump, where I was experiencing things like joy and silliness and goofiness and all of those beautiful states of mind, peace, contentment.
As a result of continually showing up and doing things that I knew didn’t work for me–[I thought] they must work for the 80% of the population, based on how much we preach it. But they weren’t working for me–I ended up struggling for 10 years. 10 years of struggle, until I finally figured out what worked for me.
When I finally figured out what worked for me, I then spent a few years being pissed off. I was like, “Are you effing kidding me? Why isn’t anybody talking about this?” Because it wasn’t one of those five mainstream approaches, it was something else. Why aren’t we talking about this? That’s what I was thinking.
When I got done throwing my temper tantrum, I realized that, “Oh, I’m supposed to be the one talking about this.” So I started this company called the Stress Less Company, and I developed the Stress Less Method, based on my own experience.
That method supports folks in finding what uniquely works for them on their own journey, in terms of stress management.
So, when we’re talking about mental health, you know, really what it means to me is, yes, we could start by breaking down the word, those two words. You know, I when I first read this question, I kind of chuckled to myself.
When we think the word health we usually think the physical body, and so I guess my answer to that question was like, “Oh, yeah, it means my body is functioning. Right? It’s my eyelashes. Catch my sweat. I can walk. I am, you know, I don’t have gas and weird times, I’m, I’ve got a perfectly functioning body that has health, no ailments. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”
I think that [mental health] is an extension of the definition of health.
My mind is working for me, not against me. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do.
It’s saving me or supporting me when I’m in a stressful or even traumatic situation.
But it’s also not on overdrive when I’m just on a phone call. It’s functioning at the capacity that it should be functioning at.
Thinking a bit deeper, [mental health is also] emotional freedom.
But I think that’s kind of like answering the question “What does health mean?” To me, it means being what I look like, what someone looks like, on the front of a magazine, I think that’s the ideal situation, right?
But really, when we look at health at the end of the day, it just means you’re functioning, and you’re doing good.
How do I care for my mental health or wellness today?
That is really about working the steps that I’ve outlined for myself and my clients. I follow the stress-less method.
I work the steps that I have outlined for myself and my clients.
I start with developing and deepening my spiritual understanding. I then identify any blocks that are preventing me from–we go back to that definition of what mental health means to me–preventing me from functioning at my best, whether it’s, you know, emotionally or productivity-wise.
I create a vision. I always have a purpose. I always have a goal. I remove those blocks when I see them. I have a daily practice that I do every single day. That’s very, very unique to me. And I’m always open to supporting other people when they’re ready.
When folks come to me, I’m carrying the message to people who are other other people who are struggling.
My main mental wellness tip
A lot of what causes stress is outside of our control. One of the tips that I found especially useful in the year 2020, going into 2021, is being able to let go of things that are outside of our control.
With the Coronavirus, the presidential elections, social unrest, owning a business, during these exceptional times, there’s so much that have that’s been outside of my control as a business owner, as a person, as a human.
What I found really, really helpful and really freeing is sitting down with my version of spirituality–which is very unique, it’s not necessarily something that I can just walk off the street into, into a religious organization and connect easily over a very unique version of spirituality for me–but I connect into that.
I’m able to hand off everything that’s outside of my control.
I’m able to hand off everything that’s outside of my control and say, “Hey, this your shit is a mine, you got this, it’s outside of my control.” I do that in a variety of ways. The traditional way of saying it would be through prayer, [or] through thinking that I’m handing this off. I could do it through journaling, I could do it in a variety of ways.
But for me, it’s really that handing off of this thing that’s outside of my control so that I can create space for what’s most important to me. What what’s most important to me and what I have control over.
My wellness tip would be to connect in and figure out what spirituality means for you. Here at the Stress Less Company, the way that we define spirituality is [that] it is the undefined thing that leads you from struggle to a beautiful state of mind. So it literally can be anything.
If there was just one thing that I could share about mental wellness with women entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Creative stress reduction is that very first thing that I discovered in my own journey. Creative stress reduction is any activity that leads us from fight flight or freeze mode to a place of play and flow, aka rest and digest mode.
There is real power in implementing a little bit of creative stress reduction.
What happens when we are stressed, or when we’re in fight-flight or freeze mode, the first thing that goes out the window is our critical thinking. And as a business owner, that is the worst thing possible to lose. Absolutely worst possible thing to lose.
The way we get that back is by implementing creative stress reduction, doing that activity or activities that get us out of the fight, flight or freeze, get us back into that rest and digest mode so that we can get our critical thinking back so that we can get back to work and solve problems. That’s really what entrepreneurs do, we solve problems.
Creative stress reduction can be going on a walk playing with your dog… [or] gardening. I’m really into canning right now of all things. It could be journaling, it could be traditional meditation, it could be prayer, it could be formatting an Excel spreadsheet, if that’s what you’re into, right? Anything really goes here.
It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be something “creative” [or] something that society says is “creative,” but it can just be going on a walk, it can be formatting an Excel spreadsheet, it doesn’t have to be painting or music or something like that. It really can be anything.
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