042 | Building Better Mental Health For Entrepreneurs, With Veronica Hislop

Veronica Hislop - Podcast Guest

Today we will be talking with Veronica Hislop. And Veronica is a trained and certified therapist and counselor with a broad knowledge of mental health, especially for entrepreneurs. He has agreed to share with us all the cool tips, tricks, and secrets that hardly any entrepreneur or professional knows about how it can really accelerate your results by understanding and overcoming the biggest challenge of entrepreneurship, which is mental health. So thank you, Veronica, for joining us.


We’re excited to have you here.


I’m happy to be here. Thank you for having me.


All right, great. So just so that our audience can get to know you better, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your experience?


Yeah, I started out through many, many years ago. If I tell you how many years I’m going to be dating myself, but I started out as a trainee social worker. And then from there, I went to, I got some training as a child and family therapist. And then from there, I went into trauma counseling. And from there, I moved on into life Relationship Coaching. So all I bring all of that to the world that I do with clients. I mean, I’ve worked my niche clients today are primarily working with female entrepreneurs. But having said that 30% of the clients that come to me are men. And my background is I’ve worked with police officers, I’ve worked with emergency responders, politicians, women, in coming out of abusive situations, all kinds of trauma. I saw I kind of moved away from doing that kind of work. I still have my foot in the water, I do a little bit of victim quick response services in Brampton, where I live, and I also do some SOS services for the federal government, but not to the same extent that I was doing before.


Awesome. That’s great. And so have you noticed any trends in terms of you know, this epidemic of mental stress and health effects, the population in general, and entrepreneurs in particular?


Well, based on the research, there was a project done. It’s called the mindset, the intersection of entrepreneurship and mental health. And it was a Canadian project. And they did a lot of research in terms of entrepreneurs and mental health. And what they were seeing significantly was that entrepreneurs at higher rates of mental health than the regular population, mental health in terms of depression in terms of anxiety. So they were seeing that in Canada, when you look at the research that’s done throughout the world, significantly, the US and England, or the English speaking world, it’s the same trend is showing up there that entrepreneurs are not necessarily that healthy, and they’re, they’re certainly less healthy in terms of mental health and the regular population.


Okay, that’s, that’s quite alarming given that we have a lot of entrepreneurs in our audience. So what do you attribute this, this trend to? Like? Do you think there is anything inherently wrong with entrepreneurship?


There’s nothing wrong with entrepreneurship at all. Um, but I think, you know, it’s, I think the the, the stress from being an entrepreneur, the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, maybe not having a regular income, the stress of starting up a business, the stress of maybe your family don’t understand what it is that you’re doing, you know, why don’t you get a real job kind of, um, all of those kinds of stresses, I think can feed into your mental health, how you see yourself and how you function. And also, you know, we want to be successful at this. And so we can drive ourselves to a point where it’s easy for the boss in the mind to break down.


Yeah, yeah. So yeah, definitely. Entrepreneurship is a huge challenge. And I can personally attest to that. Now, what are some of the strategies that you recommend to your clients to, you know, get into a healthier mental state? Because, as we all know, you know, and you also pointed out mindset and positive thinking are some of the key things key ingredients too, to success? So, if you’re already stressed out, like, how do we, how do we train our minds to, you know, think, more healthy thoughts and positive thoughts?


Well, I think just understanding that as an entrepreneur, what you’re doing is going to be stressful. And being an understanding that stress is playing a more significant part in your life. So that you do have to factor in your own self-care, excuse me, self-care plan, and self-care strategies, you do have to make that paramount. And you do have to, you can’t play with that. You just have to recognize that, especially if you’re a solo printer, I mean, you know, that you are the business. Yeah. And so if you’re not there to run the business or to give direction, then you don’t have a business. So taking care of yourself, and understanding that it’s stressful, what you’re doing is stressful. And, and, and knowing that you need to have stress management techniques and implement them in your life. That’s one of the things that you need to it needs to be paramount in your thinking and mindful of that.


Yeah. So in terms of, you know, using these strategies, like Do you have any examples of any particular tools are?


To give you a little story, one of the things that I came up with is developing systems of support. It does not support systems, but systems of support. Explain what that is in a moment. But how it came about is this little funny little story. I have a cat and a dog. I used to have a cat and a dog. And they would come upstairs in the morning and wake me up in the morning at 5:30 in the morning, and I would jump out of bed and open the door and scream at them. What are you doing up here Leave me alone go away? I would just vanish. And one morning that the sun was really shining. And they were knocking at my door. And I thought well, I can’t go back to sleep. So let me play this. Let me just play with them. Yes, I started to sit on the stairs. And I started just interacting with them. And they were interacting with each other. And it was only for about five minutes. But it was a really delightful, delicious, fun experience. And I thought you know what, I think I’m going to start my day just doing that. Yeah, acting with the Cameron the dog and it was a bit it really set my day off in a very good way. And then from there, I thought, well, what if I was to find these delicious, delightful, delectable little moments that don’t cost anything? I sprinkle them throughout my day. Yeah, so I made it a mission to do just that. And so I do what is known as a poly normal technique. I think that’s what I call it. But I work for I work in one and a half hour increments. And after an hour and a half, I get up and I do something I find one of my systems of support, it could be just playing the piano for 10 minutes, it could be listening to a comedy routine for 10 minutes, it could be going out and skipping for 10 minutes, sitting down and having a nice cup of tea in a nice China cup. But you sprinkle those systems of support throughout your day. So that you’re not so that you replenish. Yeah, um, so that’s kind of one of the strategies that I implement for myself. And work it works. Well. I mean, for some, some people, they can’t work an hour and a half, they have to stop working after, you know, 40 minutes, 45 minutes? Well, depends on you. You don’t have to work for an hour and a half as I do. But you know, every hour or so get up from your desk, move, skip, do some jumping jacks do these things. Don’t cost money. Yeah, I’m not saying go out and spend a whole lot of money, I’m saying find little simple systems that you can put in place that replenish and rejuvenate you.


That’s awesome advice. Yeah, I mean, I’ve tried some of these tricks as well, you know, they’re implemented a little bit differently. But I do realize the importance of, you know, sort of rejuvenating your mental state of mind by adopting these smaller tricks. So that’s awesome. Now, do you find any specific patterns or, you know, specific things that are common between entrepreneurs, which causes these, these symptoms of mental health?


Well, I don’t know. I mean, I mean, I’m speculating here. So you know, don’t, I’m just, this is just my take on things, I think, probably more entrepreneurs. Um, I think the entrepreneurship attracts people who have more ADHD, I think attracts people who probably have more anxiety, and then being an entrepreneur creates anxiety on top of that. So I think, you know, it may be that just, and I think it may be because those kinds of people may find it difficult working in a regular nine to five job, or in a quiet environment. And so, and also, entrepreneurship tracks a lot of people’s creativity.


Yeah, yeah. Sure. All right. So now, have you noticed any, any positive correlation, because, you know, as we know, stress can be good as well, because, you know, it helps us deal with, with other harmful situations. So have you seen any partners where, you know, a mild amount of stress can also be helpful for entrepreneurs?


Well, I think it challenges you, I mean, to, to really look at your life and look at, look at how you’re living your life, and how you manage your life, and how you manage your work and how you manage your relationships. And rather than looking at it as something that’s a problem, I think, we need to look at it more as ones that were challenged to, to, to manage all of these, these, these components of our life, and find different ways to make it work. And I’m just amazed, actually, at some women that I see that is, they have kids, and they have a husband, and they have a business, and somehow they make it work. And you know that it really is challenging us to juggle all of these balls and to take care of ourselves take care of our families, take care of and having the business be healthy. I mean, it’s, it challenges us in many ways.


Now, have you come across any extreme cases where you know, somebody so stressed out that you had to recommend or maybe you didn’t recommend it directly? But you think that you know, entrepreneurship is not for that person? Have? Have you run into these type of cases?


I am probably there are many, but I would never, I would never say that you know, that’s not the right thing for you to do. But I’m going back to some of the research, there were a number of entrepreneurs that actually committed suicide. I don’t have their names in front of me, but a few of them. I’m Kate, What was her name, but a lot of and a lot of the research that was done in Silicon Valley, also was showing that a lot of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, because that’s where all of the creativity is coming from in terms of internet on web webs, and all that kind of stuff. A lot of them a lot of people in that area were struggling with mental health.


Okay. And once again, you’re looking for some patterns so that we can sort of I understand the reasoning behind it, do you see that stress becomes higher as entrepreneurs become more successful? Or is it more, you know, more high level of stress, when they’re just sort of starting off, and things are not working out, and they’re running into challenges?


I think it depends on your personality, I think when you if you’re more successful, when you have more things at your fingertips that you can tap into, to help you manage your stress, you can get into coaching, you can hire more people to do some of the things that you don’t want to do. So I think the more successful you are you have, there’s more flexibility for you in terms of managing your stress. So I wouldn’t say so I would think that that would be would be more of the issue. I think certainly starting up a business and starting up entrepreneurship is extremely successful, is extremely stressful.


Yeah, for sure. Alright, so what you know, you meant you shared with us a cool technique to sort of deal with the day to day operations and, and sort of keep your mental health in check. But what are some of the other tips that you wish that entrepreneurs knew, in terms of maintaining good mental health, you know, anything that you can share?


Well, I think one of the things that arm entrepreneurship pushes, pushes us to do and if we take up the challenge, you know, some of us don’t take up the challenge. But I think when you’re an entrepreneur, I have never done more, some so much more self-reflection, doing entrepreneurship arm. Now, as opposed to, you know, working in a regular job. Entrepreneurship causes you to reflect on who you are, reflect on your values, and your beliefs. And the reason why I say that is because you know, you have to win, you know, all of those things are components in your branding, there are components in your policies, that components in your procedures and they are components in your customer service. So you always have to be reflective on who you are, and what are the values that you’re bringing to the table in your business. And if you think of regular companies, they go through a strategic planning every I want seven, eight years, whatever they all say they go through that strategic planning process where they look at their mission statement, they look at their vision statement, they look at their, their bodies, and entrepreneurs are have to be doing that themselves as well. And what it means is really taking a look at your, your values, and beliefs that you have, and whether they fit for you now, for me, so let me give you an example. In terms of myself, one of the values that I grew up with was hard work, if you’re going to accomplish anything in life, you’ve got to work hard, and you got to work and work, and maybe you might get it. But you still gotta work. And I think as a value that worked for me when I was a young teenager when I was going to university when I was going to college that worked for me in the sense that it kept me focused and on working, and not getting sidetracked with other things. Yeah, as I’ve gotten older, that is no longer a good value for me. I have to, you know, reflect on myself and, and ask myself, what is it hard work? Or do I need to be working in a month, much smarter way? Yeah, so that work ethic kind of value that I was brought up with, doesn’t necessarily work so well for me today. And that’s the cut. And so I think as entrepreneurs, we are called upon to look at some of our bodies and some of our beliefs that we were, you know, that we learned from our family, from our culture, from society, from friends from school, and look, and to see whether they fit who we are today. And it doesn’t mean that those things were bad or that they’re negative, it just means that we’ve outgrown them, they no longer fit us. And the stressed from the back is comes from you, they may be your event, they may be the values that you’ve outgrown, but the people around, you may not have outgrown those values. So that’s what’s going to create the conflict is because you’re operating differently. And you know, you might live with your parents, whatever. And they’re still saying, Well, you know, you’re not hard to work is important. Well, why? Why do you think Well, no, going to the gym, and doing all of that stuff is is more important because it sets me up to work in a more healthy way. So the, I guess the bottom line, in terms of what I’m saying, is that that reflection piece, as an entrepreneur, is extremely important, because it fuels who you are as an entrepreneur today.


yeah, that’s, that’s a true self-reflection. And, you know, understanding yourself is paramount before we can go out there and convince other people to, you know, pay, they asked for the products we are, you know, producing or services they are offering. Now, that brings up another question like, you know, it’s sort of like a chicken and egg situation where, you know, it’s entrepreneurs already stressed out, I think it’s a, it’s exponentially harder to sort of reflect on these type of deep issues, right? So like, do you have any strategies that you can recommend in terms of, you know, how they can sort of quiet their mind and self reflect?


Well, first of all, you know, we don’t have to do these things in isolation, we don’t have to do these things alone. I mean, there are coaches or counselors out there, there are masterminds that we can get into. One of the things that I love is journaling for myself, okay, because you become your own therapist to yourself, I’m just taking 510 minutes to sit down and to, you know, write out get write out your thoughts and put them on paper. And then you see the irrationality of your thinking. And then you see, my God wasn’t him. It’s not what I said last week, am I still looping on this thought. So you know, just doing your own journaling and connecting with your own self, I think that’s important. I think knowing how to quiet your mind and self soothe through meditation, and relaxation. And even hypnosis, and you can do that for yourself. Those are all very good techniques that I would encourage people to, to use. And I use energy tapping as well. Um, it’s something that I use a lot more in my practice nowadays, to, just to help me with my self-sabotage, and kind of behaviors. So I mean, those are the tools that I would throw out to people. And those are, those are all accessible, don’t have to cost very much.


Yeah, that means really good.


But I mean, if you’re, if you’re going to be your own therapist, to yourself through, you know, doing your own journaling, that doesn’t cost anything, it’s time.


And I think you brought up a very good point, like, you know, you don’t have to work in isolation. I think, just even openly talking about your emotions and feelings with your friends and family can lead to a lot of insights.


Well, I sometimes think sometimes it’s better to actually talk to a third person, third party, outside of your friends and family because that third party is much more objective. Yeah, your friends and family can tell you, they tell you what you want to hear. You know, and you might be going through a separation or something, and you’re talking to your friends, and they’re just reflecting back to you what you’re saying to them, which is not necessarily good stuff. It might be better to speak to a third party.


Like, some families are more open and honest than others. So I, I take that point, for sure. All right. Now, do you think, you know, we’re all also stressed out? I think you brought up this point as well. Like, we are also stressed out by the sort of the pressures of, you know, having a family life and social life and balancing that with, with entrepreneurship. So do you have any recommendations in terms of, you know, how much focus we should put on entrepreneurship, like, not get sort of, you know, all embroiled in, in running a business? And also pay attention to our family and social life? How do you recommend, we should go about maintaining?


I think if you stop and think as to why are you doing this, at the end of the day, you’re doing entrepreneurship, and you’re working in this way because you want to have a better life, which means having a better life for your family. But if you’re putting all your energies into working, if you’re putting all your energies into working, and not I’m prioritizing your family, I think you’re actually missing the whole point. So I really think, you know, you have to kind of look over your time, and you really have to begin to not only prioritize family but prioritize your relationship with your partner. And I think it’s, it’s really, it’s quality versus quantity. Yeah, but understanding that, you know, you may not be able to have a lot of tough things, a lot of time with the family. But the time that you do spend has, is going to be quality time. So you know, maybe for you, it’s five o’clock every day is an Obama did this, every day for an hour, he would go and have dinner with his family when he was in the White House. And, you know, not unless it was a major crisis. Every day at five, he had dinner with his family. So, you know, at that point in time, the phone is off, you know, no one brings the cell phone to the table, you know, we’re engaging, we’re connecting with each other. We’re sitting around the table we’re eating, we’re talking, how was your day? That may be all that, you know, that maybe what you are that you can do. But at least it is quality? versus quantity? Yeah. So you know, so I think you probably and you need to prioritize that. And, you know, and ensure that your kids prioritize that. Now, of course, as kids get older, they have schedules. Yeah, then you need to maybe think, well, maybe, you know, once every two weeks or once a month, we have a family night. Yeah. And you stick to that, and you prioritize that. Or maybe once a month, you know, the wife and I, we go out or my, you know, husband, you know, kids with a babysitter, or the kids can stay by themselves if they’re old enough. And that is our time together. But you put it on your calendar, and you prioritise it. Because if we don’t do these things, then we get into more trouble down the road, because we’ve disconnected from each other. disconnected from our kids, we’ve disconnected from my wife, we’re not you know, we’re not connecting.


Yeah, that’s, that’s so true. Very well said. Now, I have a, you know, I’m a big believer in a positive mindset and how it actually affects the outcome of any venture that we undertake. So, you know, we’ve talked about how mental health can affect, you know, our success negatively. When is the converse also true? Like, when we actually become successful? Have you noticed, as entrepreneurs become successful at their business? Does it actually improve their mental health and happiness levels and, and whatnot


I think that’s all depending on the individual, really, because, as I said to you, before, a number of major entrepreneurs ended up committing suicide. Um, so it has to do with the individual, it has to do with how the individual values themselves, how they see themselves, how they value themselves in terms of self-worth, their self-esteem, maybe you know, that their own maybe they struggle with depression, how they cope, you know, are they coping using alcohol a bit coping using drugs? I think it just depends on the individual. I know, just because you’re successful had a successful business doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a successful person.


Yeah. So the conclusion, I guess, is that you really need to do this work and get your mental health in an optimal state. Because whether you are successful or you’re struggling, you know, if your mental health is is not good, you know, you still may not attain the actual, the happiness that you’re looking for, right?


It’s, yeah, that’s, in a nutshell, it’s really prioritizing that mental health. And I prioritize. Let’s put it this way, prioritizing your well, being optimizing your well being managing your stress, and taking care of I mean, I, I really want to move away from work-life balance, and I look at it more as pushing energy and replenishing energy. You know, whenever times that you need to be in push energy, and there may be times if you’re launching a product or service, you need to be in push energy. Yeah. But you know, when, even then, it’s important to have time downtime where you can bring back that replenishing energy.


Cool. All right. That’s great. So, um, is there anything else that you may want to share about mental health? With with our audience today, that’s something that I haven’t asked already.


Um, you know, I encourage people to, we’re living in a day where there are so many resources, I would really encourage people to use the resources that are available. Books, audiobooks, coaching, therapy, counseling, masterminds. Um, the key is not to be in isolation. Yeah, not to stay isolated, and feel that you’re doing it all alone. And even, you know, networking, getting out and meeting people, but not to be isolated and to connect with other people. Yeah.


Do you have any mastermind names or any recommendation for mastermind groups for entrepreneurs?


I think you have to do your own research. It’s going to depend on, you know, who you are, where you are? What niche you’re in? You know, there are so many out there.


Sure, sure. All right. Great. Thank you so much, Veronica, for all the wisdom that you shared today. I think a lot of people in our audience got a tremendous amount of value out of this. Now, before I let you go, can you tell us a little bit about your company and how you work with entrepreneurs and anybody else who needs help?


My company is called empowered solutions. And I started off doing a lot of one to one coaching and recognizing and managing my own stress, I began to think about ways that I could leverage my service in terms of working with more people, and reaching more people with the information and resources that I have. So I now I mean, I still do one to one coaching, I do group coaching, and I do workshops, and presentations. But I’m now moving into the area of doing online courses. I have two that I’ve launched so far. One is imposter syndrome, your kick ass guide to recovery. It’s all about those negative thoughts, those bullying thoughts that we have in our head that interferes with our entrepreneurship mindset. So that’s up on teachable, and I’ve just launched another course right now unstoppable, finding your greatness within. And that’s all about some of the things that we talked about today. finding your passion, finding your purpose, taking a look at your habits, getting out of your comfort zone, um, you know, dealing with your fears, and really connecting to your values in terms of who you are, what you want, and why you want what you want, and how that impacts on you as an individual. So those are the two courses that I have, and I’m coming out with more. That one’s on me, but you can also connect with me on my website, www. empowered dash solutions.ca.


That’s great. Well, thank you so much. Once again, Veronica. It was fun having you on this episode. And I hope we hope you join us again, another episode.


Thank you for inviting me, I really enjoyed the discussion.


Thank you so much.



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