Running a social enterprise can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, but it can also throw up some of the biggest challenges. Not least when it comes to looking after your own mental wellbeing. This is the subject of our new Red Bull Amaphiko podcast, recorded last year at the Academy in Baltimore.
The first episode features hip hop entreprenuer Shanti Das, best selling author D Watkins, Changa Bell of the Black Male Yoga Initiative, young Lakota educator Ali Moran and Baltimore flower farmer Walker Marsh.
Find time for yourself
While it’s easy to dedicate all of your time to a cause you believe in, making the time to do the things you enjoy is also incredibly important. Shanti Das, a music executive and the founder of Silence The Shame http://silencetheshame.com/ , an initiative set up to help beat depression, explains:
“When you’re really passionate about a cause you own it, and it becomes embedded in your DNA. It’s like you live and you breath it every single day. Whether you’re fighting sex trafficking with young girls, mental health, or poverty, you find yourself thinking about it 24/7. Yes, you’ve probably been tasked with leading a charge in your community or the effort, but what I do understand is that it’s important sometimes to take a moment to step back and have that time in your day.
“I always tell people we have the same 24 hours in a day. Everyone does. It’s how you prioritise your time, and so I try and build in Shanti time. Every day. It’s not about social media; I don’t even want to talk about my foundation. I just want to sit and watch a goofy pleasure TV show, or I love movies, and so I incorporate things that make me happy, because again you’re dealing with such heavy issues that weigh on your heart and you want to save the world – you gotta make sure you’re saving yourself at the same time and that’s where that balance comes into play.”
Remember to eat
Alli Moran, a Lakota educator from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, created the Cheyenne Rivers Scholars Alliance in order to provide Cheyenne youth with the tools necessary to successfully transition into a higher education setting. Moran talks about the importance of eating at sensible times – a fact that’s seemingly obvious but something we often put on a back-burner when other things crop up.
“I know my project doesn’t necessarily deal with wellness,” Moran explains, “but in working with our youth and helping them implement goals, and working towards those goals, wellness is pretty much just a part of that. You yourself need to be healthy and at whole with yourself before you can start giving to others.
“Wellness can be a struggle for people when they’re working for their communities because you get so involved with your work, and from personal experience I often forget to eat until very late at night, I can sometimes go all day without eating just because I’m so dedicated to getting work done. It’s not healthy, so remember to eat.”
Give yoga a try
Changa Bell is the man behind the Black Yoga Male Initiative, which he credits with helping him deal with adversity. “Yoga instills wellness in the population that I’m targeting in a number of ways” says Bell, and it can also make a difference when you’re facing a challenge.
“When it comes to juvenile offenders or my foster kids, people who have been through a lot of traumatic experiences, they learn to hide, they pull away from their body and they hide out in their minds. In your mind you can create any kind of world that you want to experience, so you can be safe, you can be tough, and these are the reactions we see on the streets.
“I said wouldn’t it be great if we trained people as yoga instructors? Because part of that ten month process is the self realisation that happens that makes you a more whole human being, and then typically, at least in my opinion, I believe that humans are good natured and that once you tap into that, the compassion alone would have you pay that forward.”
So if you’re accustomed to hiding out in your mind or avoiding issues that could affect your mental wellbeing, why not give yoga a try?
Dance and be happy
Getting on top of your emotions and becoming more at one with yourself doesn’t even need to include new experiences, and for our final tip we turn back to the wise words of Das, who concludes:
“Open your blinds and let the sunshine in. Turn on a song that you love. Get up and dance. That goes a long way for your mental wellness. It puts you in a good mood instantly.”