As we say goodbye to the easygoing days of summer and journey deeper into the busy months of fall, it can be easy to get swept up by the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced world. Whether you’re looking for some fresh ways to integrate wellness and balance into your daily routine or you’re craving a larger reset, you’re in the right place.
I spoke with 27 high-performing women from the Dreamers & Doers collective to get a glimpse into the wellness habits that have ultimately fueled their success amidst busy schedules, demanding careers, and family responsibilities. From embracing the rhythms of the seasons to simply stretching for two minutes each morning, they have found effective—and sometimes unconventional—ways to nurture their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
As we enter the fourth quarter of the year, I hope these insights and tips inspire you to embrace wellness as an essential ingredient in your journey to success.
Bilen Mesfin Packwood
CEO of Change Consulting, a full-service communications agency for racial and social justice leaders.
My practice: I prioritize quiet time in the morning to get myself ready and centered, and once or twice throughout the day I take a moment for some breathing and mindfulness exercises. Physically, I haven’t always done the best job taking care of myself. During the pandemic, those unhealthy habits caught up with me. Over the past year, I have been focusing on eating healthy foods and eliminating sugar, dairy, and carbs, as well as incorporating more movement into my day. Now, I work out at least four or five times a week. I have lost weight, but more importantly, I am sleeping better, feeling lighter emotionally, and have more strength and energy for my life.
My tip: It is important to put these wellness practices on my to-do list and on my calendar—similar to what I do for any work project or meeting. And the most important thing is to never stop trying.
Principal at DCC Accounting, transforming the way business owners make decisions.
My practice: Getting my wake-routine down has been a game changer. It is a four-step process that I like to summarize as: connection, gratitude, affirmations or intentions, and meditation. For connection, I open my Notes app and create a 5-10 sentence journal entry. These can be a to-do list or anything that’s on my mind. There are times that I can’t get my writing going so I read a poem instead. For gratitude, I list 3-5 things I am happy for. I have started including things that haven’t yet happened. For the affirmations piece, I have selected a few that I really like. I also keep them in a note on my phone, but I have memorized them now. Finally, I close my eyes for 5-10 minutes to wrap it up. When I get up to drink my coffee, I feel ready to go, grateful and relaxed.
My tip: I added a reward. Always routine before coffee. I can’t leave my house without my morning cafecito, and now doing my routine comes first.
CEO of Belgian Boys, creating whole ingredient foods with a European twist so families can prep less, smile more, and indulge better.
My practice: In August 2020, my brother noticed I was on the verge of burnout and tricked me into a session with an executive coach who specialized in mindfulness. A few years ago, I thought coaching was a waste of time. I couldn’t imagine ever needing or wanting to sit down with someone and talk about my challenges at work. Who has time for that when you run a company? Three years later, the mindfulness practice I started that day has totally changed me. It’s one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
My tip: Make this part of your schedule as much as you can. My mindfulness coaching happens during work hours when I have childcare taken care of and the ability to carve out one hour to focus on my well-being.
Misasha Suzuki Graham
Co-Founder of Dear White Women, LLC, normalizing conversations around race and racism so as to help White women use their privilege to uproot systemic racism.
My practice: The topics that we talk about on our podcast, write about in our books and articles, and speak about in our corporate and academic engagements—let alone live on a daily basis—are heavy, and I’ve seen in my own life how draining they can be on a daily basis. To address that, I get up early and read in bed on my Kindle and I move my body by taking an online class or a video. Sure, I have to get up earlier than my family to make this happen. But it’s not so hard to do that once I get started, and that mental and physical reset is so important for me to be able to do all that I need to do professionally and personally, that I’ve made it a daily priority.
My tip: Handle your wellness needs before checking your phone or email for texts or messages. Everyone is looking for some of your time. You need to be there for yourself first before you can be there for everyone else.
Founder and CEO of OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching, helping leaders manage their energy for a direct business impact.
My practice: I wake up naturally sometime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Yes, you read that right. I do not use an alarm. It was the best decision I made when I started my business. My morning routine includes a daily yoga practice, bible reading, and dancing to whatever song inspires me that morning. This means that I start my day full of energy and clarity!
My tip: Consciously integrate these practices. I have intentionally created my business so that my professional, personal, and social lives all complement and support each other. With this mindset, I’ve been able to create what I previously thought wasn’t possible. I have built an impactful, purpose-driven business that I love, coaching leaders to achieve their most ambitious goals. And I do so in a way that enables me the freedom and flexibility to enjoy the big things.
Co-Founder and CEO of Learn Grant Writing, helping those looking for more flexibility build a meaningful career in grant writing.
My practice: I used to race mountain bikes and was hard on myself for not being “healthy enough.” I started this habit building system called the Ch’weghtsen Point System to look at habit building trends over time. It is a laminated list of habits that I tally up from the day before and journal about. It only takes a few minutes and helps me reset on the habits that I know make a difference in my well-being.
My tip: I use the Ch’weghtsen Point System about four days a week. I’m okay with not using it “perfectly” every day. Even just a few times a week with 10 minutes of stretching on the yoga mat is all I need to ground myself for a busy day.
Founder and CEO of Chapter tOO, LLC, an organizational and talent development optimization consultancy, leveraging data-backed people insights.
My practice: I’ve discovered two impactful wellness practices that work best for me. Firstly, I delay responding to emails until a designated time each day. Secondly, when I take time off, I intentionally turn off email accounts and alerts on all devices. These practices reinforce and support the boundaries needed to maintain my wellness and promote what I call “life-work balance”—a deliberate reordering of the popular “work-life balance” term to remind myself that work is just one component of life, and not meant to be the entirety.
My tip: Set boundaries. Boundaries are all about controlling who has access and when. To ensure that I prioritize my well-being, I proactively block off dedicated time on my calendar that cannot be scheduled over.
Owner of HQ Alchemy – Systems & Operations, providing bespoke systems and operations support for scaling small businesses and entrepreneurs.
My practice: When it comes to business and leadership, I find that the best wellness practices create more space in my day-to-day. Instead of adding more to my plate, like breathwork or daily meditation, I started asking myself what I can remove. I now limit and stack meetings to two days per week and implement a maximum of 45 minutes. It’s been a lesson in boundaries and self care, but I feel most healthy and happy when I have breathing room in my day!
My tip: I know better than to rely on my terrible willpower, so I set up systems to support me. For example, my calendar only allows meetings on certain days and caps the length and number of meetings per day.
Accessibility Product Manager at Microsoft, a leading technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
My practice: Scheduling outdoor activities every week. If I cannot take a walk, then I’ll plan a hike or go dancing. On a daily basis, I carve out 30 minutes of de-stress time for reading books. Another daily ritual is to walk away from my desk during lunch time and take a forced break for destressing.
My tip: The best strategy is to schedule it. Sometimes we behave reactively when it comes to mental health, and it’s so vital to ensure we proactively schedule it into our daily lives. Compare this to keeping your car running smoothly—one has to keep up with routine maintenance. Similarly, one needs to keep up with their mental health and self care practices.
Founder and CEO of Em Dash Content Studio, a boutique team of expert writers and strategists helping small businesses establish themselves as thought leaders.
My practice: At around 2 p.m. every day, I walk away from my computer. I do laundry or go shopping, work on a home project or get my nails done. By mid-afternoon, my brain starts to get foggy and I know my best work isn’t going to happen. Walking away gives me a much-needed break.
My tip: In addition to having a break, I work out every morning to get my endorphins going. For me, it was about actually scheduling these things on my calendar. I block off time. Making space for you is as important, if not more, than any meeting.
Photographer and Speaker at The Goldenbrand, a digital haven specializing in photography, self portrait education, editorial content creation, and partnership for growing brands.
My practice: I tried for years to use journaling as a self care practice but I was never able to write without feeling self conscious. Instead I’ve discovered the magic of voice notes and processing my thoughts and feelings verbally with a friend in real time. I look forward to a daily walk and connecting with myself and others in this way. It always sets a positive tone for the day ahead.
My tip: Let go of the need to make your self care and wellness rituals perfect and give yourself permission to customize practices for your needs. It is so easy to get caught up in the rules or comparison when it comes to “doing it right.” If a routine or practice works for you and you are motivated to honor the commitment to yourself, celebrate that!
Dr. Claire Green-Forde
Founder and CEO of Dr. Claire Speaks! LLC, a human-centered advisory consultancy focused on thought leadership, training, and speaking engagements.
My practice: Boundaries, celebrating my imperfections, and prayer. One often neglected aspect of wellness is the necessity of placing boundaries with everyone and everything in our lives. Boundaries with my time, who has access to me, when they have access, what I say yes or no to, and taking inventory of how I’m feeling means that I have the space to honor and check in with my body, mind, and heart. This allows me to center my well-being through prayer and other practices so I can be the best version of me.
My tip: One of the ways that I ensure self care is prioritized is through acknowledging that the concept of self care is one that often unfairly places the sole responsibility of wellness on the individual, rather than on society and the barriers that prevent us from centering our well-being. Self care is a privilege as it requires resources, time, and support. Instead, I center on the idea of collective care—a shared responsibility of having people around you who pour into you, encourage your wellness, and consistently hold you accountable to create space for you to engage your wellness.
Founder of The Conscious Publicist, a PR and media concierge raising the awareness of conscious leaders and organizations.
My practice: Shifting to an alcohol-free lifestyle has been a significant wellness practice that has positively impacted my well-being as a leader. It has boosted my inner and outer confidence, my mental clarity, and, even more, my productivity levels. Through this journey, I continue to feel more authentically expressive with an even deeper emotional connection to my creative pursuits. It has further enhanced my understanding and the wisdom behind my expertise and continues to elevate my communication skills. It has also improved my emotional intelligence and relationships with others.
My tip: It’s essential to start by setting clear intentions. From there, create a well-structured routine allowing dedicated time to focus on self care. Establish boundaries with yourself and others to help you achieve your goals, and seek the support that best suits this routine. Regularly assess your progress, celebrate your successes, and make any necessary adjustments to keep your routine in line with your ever-evolving needs and desires!
Co-Founder of Pattern Brands, a family of purposeful brands providing the essentials to make, shape, and grow a home—the foundation of daily life.
My practice: For me, it has meant really taking a look at my physical health and making sure that I have the right nutrition and supplements to support my needs. I went to Parsley Health—big shout out to the team there—as they were able to do a bunch of bloodwork and identify some areas where I did need supplementation. It was game changing to actually have some of these deficiencies corrected—stuff that was as simple as Vitamin D deficiency.
My tip: Building a business involves hard work, grit, resilience—but it doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice your health or peace of mind just to reach your goals. There comes a point where burnout is real. You have to make well-being as vital to your business as the work itself.
CEO of Admin Boutique, supporting entrepreneurs and busy individuals through administrative, marketing, and operations support.
My practice: I stretch for two minutes every day first thing in the morning. This sounds unimpressive, but habit is everything. Getting in the habit of doing something for myself, even for a short period of time, is a great way to launch into other habits I want to make. I used to try to add in all sorts of wellness practices that were time-consuming, complex, or that I just didn’t feel like doing. When I switched to something simple and short, it became easier to make other small shifts throughout my day. In the end, this has led to some very big personal shifts like not being afraid to use my voice or managing my time better.
My tip: Choose one short and simple habit like drinking a full glass of water before your morning coffee and practice it every day without a break for 30 days. After this becomes a habit, try to make other simple and small changes and, eventually, you will see this lead to big shifts.
CEO of Thigh Society, the leading direct-to-consumer brand of size-inclusive long leg undergarment solutions to sweating, chafing, and modesty.
My practice: While intermittent fasting is all the rage, it didn’t work for me. I tried, but with only coffee in my stomach, I’d be hangry and unfocused by 11:00 a.m. and in back-to-back calls until 1 p.m. Eating first thing, and taking a lunch break—even if it’s just 15 minutes—helps. Food is fuel that our brain and body needs for mental clarity and productivity. I’m a big believer in listening to our own bodies and figuring out what works best for us, and not letting diet and wellness culture blindly dictate our eating habits.
My tip: Blocking time in my calendar is the only way to ensure that I get time for myself to eat. I’ve also found that doing meal prep on Sundays and Wednesdays is helpful since it saves so much time; I can grab a healthy meal right from the fridge and know that it’ll keep me full and focussed.
Founder and CEO of Jackalo, making a dent in the problem of children’s clothing waste.
My practice: Walking my dogs is my favorite way to build in wellness to my busy day. It helps ensure that my baseline is getting a good amount of joyful movement each day, and anything I add on to that is a bonus. It also gives me a good excuse to get into nature. Whenever possible I try to take them into the forest, and really focus on the sensory experience: the sounds I’m hearing, the ground under my feet, and the changes in the plant growth. All of this makes me feel grounded and ready to dig into my work.
My tip: Dogs have to get exercise as much as we do, so it’s a beautifully reinforcing cycle. But if you don’t have dogs, setting aside time on your schedule for walks can help. I always encourage folks to think critically about both the time you are spending on their phones doing low-priority tasks and keeping clear boundaries about when people will and won’t hear back from you to ensure that you have the time for self care.
Co-Founder of Starling Training, offering cohort-based, virtual, synchronous training designed to sharpen the skills that build productive, supportive relationships.
My practice: I start my day with a headphone-free walk with my dog Sadie—this gives me quiet time to reflect and plan. Later in the day when I have those too-small-to-be-productive gaps between meetings, I cue up a Peloton arms or abs workout and sneak in some strength training.
My tip: A dog needs to go out. Even if I don’t want to, she needs a walk. Doing it in a more meditative way sets the tone for the day.
Founder and CEO of The Refill Shoppe, an award-winning, eco-awesome solution to modern-day consumerism.
My practice: The unexpected wellness technique I have incorporated into my everyday life is rest. As the founder or leader, how much you work or even overwork is often seen as a badge of honor. I wholeheartedly believe in hard work, but being in this position is a marathon, not a sprint. It is essential to prioritize taking care of yourself so you can properly look after your team and organization. Science shows us the benefits of rest repeatedly; it is time for society to recognize it.
My tip: My favorite ways to rest, restore, and thereby renew my focus are short naps with a timer set, a quick meditation, stretching, and even practicing “intentional delay” to give my brain the time and space it needs to work through a challenge. It also translates to being kind to myself; we are all just doing our best, which is something to behold.
Fatou B. Barry
Founder of PR Girl Manifesto, an industry-leading platform with an inclusive community of over 40,000 members, dedicated to making communications a more accessible career.
My practice: Starting my day with disconnected mornings has significantly enhanced my wellness. I dedicate the first two hours to grounding myself without distractions—no phone or conversations. Instead, I focus on journaling, movement, and reading, leading to a profound shift in my perspective for the day and overall well-being.
My tip: Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your everyday routine, just like checking email. Establish dedicated time blocks to ensure that your wellness activities are prioritized and habitual.
Kimberly Tara, CPA
Founder and CEO of The Tara CPA Firm, LLC, the go-to firm for CEO Mom Service Providers who want to build wealth through proactive tax strategy.
My practice: The three things that have made the most positive impact on my well-being are drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and using a walking pad at my desk. Once I started prioritizing sleep over working into the late hours every single night, I noticed an increase in my productivity and focus during working hours. Additionally, finding one meeting per day that I could use my walking pad while attending has made my body feel better and more energized while getting my brain through the “afternoon fog” that many of us experience.
My tip: When I look at my calendar on Friday afternoons to prepare for the next week, I choose “walking appropriate” meetings on my calendar and make them a different color. When it’s time to get on that call or zoom, I’m mentally prepared to start walking—no excuses and no forgetting. I keep a big, refillable water bottle at my desk all day long and am almost never without it; I actually crave water!
Mariya Leona Illarionova
Designer and Community Builder at Mariya Leona, partnering with ambitious founders and brands to cultivate their bold ideas into global movements.
My practice: As a designer and community builder, I’ve discovered a unique way to enhance my well-being by aligning my business goals and strategy with the seasons. During summer, I’m more social and driven, pushing my limits and comfort zone. When winter arrives, I embrace introspection, slowing down to recharge and create a nurturing environment. By using the seasons to power my efforts, I find myself more attuned to the ebb and flow of creativity, leading to innovative designs and a deeper connection with my team and clients.
My tip: At each solstice and equinox point, I take a few days off for self-reflection and review, ensuring that my efforts are powered by natural rhythms, rather than working against them. To get started, study each season’s characteristics and their impact on energy levels, then adjust goals and projects accordingly.
Katharine Campbell Hirst
Founder of IdeaShift, catalyzing female business owners with entrepreneurship coaching and strategic guidance.
My practice: After I had my daughter, my relationship to my time and my energy changed dramatically. Suddenly I was operating at the very edge of what was possible and had to become deeply attuned to what fills me up and what drains me. I now drink a lot less, go for a walk in the park every other morning, and get to bed way earlier.
My tip: It makes a big difference to reframe every choice as between two positives. So when choosing whether or not to drink, it’s a choice between more fun tonight or a clearer head tomorrow. When choosing what to have for dinner, it’s between a more pleasurable meal tonight and a lighter energy in my body tomorrow. There are no “bad” choices, and neither option makes me a better or worse person. I just pay attention to how different choices make me feel and use that to calibrate future decisions.
Founder and CEO of Traction Advisory, a revenue growth consultancy that accelerates business results for mission-led brands.
My practice: In the swirl of life these days, creating efficiencies in my day is my version of a wellness routine. At the start of every week, I scan my calendar for commitments that can be re-prioritized. Regaining even just an hour in each day can help create more mental breathing room in any given week which, in turn, allows me to bring a better version of myself to my commitments.
My tip: I often color code by category in my calendar so I can quickly visually see where I’m off-balance. For example, if work commits are color-coded red and my personal commits are color-coded green, I can easily see when my week is off balance. Being 50/50 is not always the goal in a given week. But having a quick visual cue that signals when my wellness commits are missing is helpful!
Co-Founder and CEO of Braindate by e180, leveraging its own technology and coaching to turn events and gatherings into a knowledge-sharing feast.
My practice: Adding pleasure that doesn’t come in the form of wine o’clock into my routine. As women entrepreneurs, sometimes also mothers, we are constantly giving, producing, organizing, and caring. With the help of the wonderful Michaela Boehm, I realized that I needed more feminine energy in my life every single day. More pleasure, more beauty, more nature, more contemplating, more creativity, more gentleness, and more dance. It literally changed my life.
My tip: For me, it’s about being mindful of pleasure at all moments of the day. While I commute on my bike, I watch out for surprising flowers, for a mama and a child walking together holding hands. I sing songs much too loud. When I’m with my children, I look out for a burst of laughter, and put those memories in a sacred place in my heart.
Founder and CEO of THR3EFOLD, a sustainable supply chain agency that helps apparel brands source ethical suppliers and humanize their sustainability.
My practice: I begin every morning over a fresh cup of black coffee paired with a one hour prayer walk. I do not let myself check email or Instagram until after. Since it’s coffee (my favorite) and walking (not running), I no longer cancel on myself, and I look forward to that time of quiet and contemplation as I focus on gratitude, intentions, and center myself for the day ahead. In fact, it has now made me a morning person. I feel more at peace than ever before.
My tip: Identify the healthy activities you love the most and listen to your body so you can both look forward to it but still get the health kick you need. I’ve done years of early-morning runs and boxing classes but lately I feel my body craving the soft life, so I decided to try something new. It’s checking off my physical, mental, and spiritual box right at the start of every day!
Experience Design Strategist at Hanna Ladell, a serial entrepreneur, designer, and leader with a mission to encourage and amplify great business practices.
My practice: One of the best wellness practices for me has been blocking my calendar for 20 minutes and dedicating it to reading. My daily schedule can get chaotic, but I feel that my mood, my intentions, and my attention become more directed when I take time reading books on leadership, encouragement, industry related things, or simply a book that challenges my own assumptions of myself during my workday. On my calendar, I block that time as “wisdom 20.”
My tip: We all struggle with crazy booked calendars—there is so much demanding our time. However, whatever it is that gives you peace in your day, whatever ritual it may be, I highly encourage you to try blocking your calendar and giving yourself permission to practice wellness.
All individuals featured in this article are members of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders by securing PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.