This April marks the 30th anniversary of National Stress Awareness Month. Stress affects us all, yet it presents itself uniquely to each of us in all contexts. Despite the complex nature of stress, its impacts on our bodies and places of work are innumerable.
It’s so important–especially in the aftermath of a global pandemic–to acknowledge our stressors and release what we cannot control. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress can go a long way toward promoting healthy relationships and personal wellness.
In honor of National Stress Awareness Month, we’re celebrating Clover merchants who’ve continued to run a business in the face of incredible stress and those who’ve built a business around supporting community well-being.
Tammie Wright and the team at ABC Fitness Connection take their mission to support healthy lifestyles in all aspects very seriously.
During our interview, Wright shared how the support of a trusted friend helped her navigate a rock-bottom stressful situation.
“Back in 2012, I considered taking my own life. I confided in one of my coworkers. She listened. She didn’t talk, didn’t tell me what she thought I should do. She just listened. And as I talked, I was able to sift through my baggage. She said the words that I would never want to forget: “That is not an option, so what are WE going to do?” It’s not like she paid my bills. It’s not like she helped me to keep my house. It’s not like she helped me with anything that was going on. But she included herself in my mess, and that made a difference.”
As a result, Wright’s Empowering Women Initiative–a program providing free workshops–aims to support women physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and even environmentally.
“Women, in particular, often need space to explore their power and strength,” Wright stresses.
Mignon Francois knows a thing or two about stress. During the early stage of building what would become The Cupcake Collection, she balanced her business on extremely narrow margins.
“I would sell a dozen cupcakes and with the profits I would buy a spoon. I would sell some more cupcakes and buy a bowl. I was even losing the house where The Cupcake Collection was located,” Francois recounts. “On the day we opened our store, we knew the house was going to be up for sale at the foreclosure auction, yet here I am 12 years later and I’m talking to you from inside the house that I own.”
Many of Mignon’s efforts at giving back are inspired by the adversity that she herself grew from. She uses her platform of success and notoriety to empower young entrepreneurs to thrive as she has.
“Now I extend my hand to help so that other people can learn,” Francois says.
The son of restaurateurs and caterers, Bret Wojciak grew up in a household of service-mindedness. Entering a public service field seemed inevitable for Wojciak, and naturopathic medicine was a natural fit.
Opening Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center gave Wojciak the opportunity to build long-term community relationships with patients and his practitioners. Wojciak prioritizes autonomy for those professionals to practice the way they’ve been trained in a range of services–from acupuncture to massage therapy–that target stress.
“Our practitioners can really utilize their strengths and their passions in treating their patients,” explains Wojciak.
Dr. Jordana Quinn first entered osteopathy and regenerative medicine to bring a more holistic perspective to medical care. Rather than approaching chronic pain with surgery or painkillers as a go-to solution, Dr. Quinn examines the bigger picture first.
“I really focus on what I believe is true health,” Quinn tells. “Everyone has different genetics, but you can really impact your own genetics with a focused diet and exercise routine. When people come into my office, we typically talk about many of those facets of care”
Preventive and regenerative approaches are often connected to mental health and wellbeing as much as physical. Having honest conversations about stress is an important component of Dr. Quinn’s work.
“I think being there for your patients is very important,” stresses Quinn. “As doctors, we are a sounding board for patients. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I talk to patients about mental health and about stress and anxiety, especially during these stressful times.”
Terri Littleton has navigated tremendous personal stress while running and growing a business. In 2013, she lost her daughter suddenly to a blood clot from sickle cell anemia. The weight of her grief and a two-fold increase in rent on her brick-and-mortar cafe, caused her to reconsider the price of running her own cafe.
“After all of that trauma, my heart wasn’t in it any more,” Littleton shares
Yet, in some ways, staying focused on her work kept her going through that dark period.
“Immersing myself in work is what has brought me through everything; if I had had too much free time, I may have just imploded,” explains Littleton.
Despite immersing herself in her work, Littleton knew that taking time to herself was more essential than ever.
“Over the last year, I’ve learned self-care. I took off a week during this last anniversary of my daughter’s death. I went to Santa Cruz and just sat on the beach; that helped me decompress,” Little recalls. “But honestly, I do think that working has really saved me, along with the support of a very loyal customer base. A lot of them have become friends and they keep me lifted up. I can’t speak enough about how wonderful people have been.”
Join us in thanking all our merchants who provide services and inspiration that help us deal with the stresses we all carry. If you’re a small business owner yourself, consider 10 ways to reduce anxiety for yourself and your employees.
Read more stories about how merchants are growing businesses with Clover and thriving in their communities.