I'm a CEO of a Mental Wellness Company and I Struggle With Burnout — 3 Ways I've Learned to Cope

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Sabriya Dobbins150
Virtual Mental Wellness Retreats Lead
May 21, 2024 at 3:26AM UTC

When I launched my wellness retreat company back in 2019, I went in with my heart at the forefront. I thought that if I just focused on the good, then the positive light would drive out the bad for myself and others. I was known as the 4.0 student throughout college and the successful working professional after I graduated, yet the darkness still consumed me. I felt like a burden to the world and oftentimes wished I was not here to deal. I had gone through my own share of mental breakdowns and depression and I wanted to help others cope with rock bottom better than I did. 

With high hopes and high energy, I tackled the challenge of mental health advocacy in full force. Running amazing wellness retreats, virtually, and making a greater impact on my community and beyond was exhilarating. Even as the pain of 2020 grew, I was still plugging along. As we dove into 2021, something began to change in me. My despair began to keep me in bed later most mornings and the dread of the world began to engulf me more than I could imagine. Maybe, my light was not enough, I thought. If I just do more, I’ll feel better, I hope. I kept going as much as I could, but the walls began to cave in more. CEO or not, wellness expert or not, I know now that I am not immune to the heartaches of life. Not now, not ever. But wow, these heartaches hurt like no other. They are part of a compounded reality that no one has ever seen.

As I stare at the computer screen dazed and ill-inspired, I squeeze out, at the very least, what I am feeling at this moment. I am tired because of the painful racial injustice that just gets worse. I am frustrated that voices who need help are being silenced. I am overwhelmed as I worry about the health of my family and friends. A deadly pandemic rages and keeps me consuming news sometimes longer than I should. I struggle indoors as my heart lives for travel and getting outside of my box of the world. I deal with my own insecurities as I try to manage work and my personal life. I shake my head as it seems like my home nation, America, really keeps unraveling.

But in the midst of all that, I know that my work has only just begun. 

Here's how I’ve learned to cope.

I know that I cannot afford to stop and give up on those who need help the most. But I also own that I am not always okay in the process along the way. There are also moments where I have to step back and regroup to do the real work.

Who do I think I am to help others with “fixing” their lives? How do I even qualify myself to help others if I am not the shining example of what they hope to become? Those questions dash through my head constantly. We are constantly told that we have to have it figured all out and if we don’t, we need to sit back and be quiet. Our voice won’t have weight if we cannot demonstrate “success.” 

There’s a lot of pressure. Here’s what I’ve learned on my journey to moving forward.

1. I don’t need to put up a facade.

I am realizing now, more than ever, that it is not about putting up the perfect facade to look like I have it all figured out so people will trust me. It is about being more real than ever in a world where people are constantly faking it. It is about giving people a safe space to say: “This is not working for me and I am not okay.” We have created a world where “I’m fine” is the default go-to and “I am not okay” are words that are beginning to come a little too late. 

2. I need to make peace with my truth.

As someone who does not always feel motivated every day even though I know my purpose is to change the world for the better, I am learning to make peace with my truth. I am still human before anything else. Showing myself empathy is showing the world empathy. Being able to feel what those I serve feel too is what makes me a better leader. I am not removed from the depression, the anxiety, the fear and the pain. It is mine and it is yours, too. 

3. There are still tough days, but I’ll get through them.

While I have found success in the work I do, it does not keep me from having those tough days. The pain of others still follows me, and I have agreed to help them carry their bags. I cannot lie, sometimes I stumble with those bags. Sometimes I do not think I can take another step. But I look to you and to everyone who is barely holding on. Adrenaline kicks up inside of me. Just the moment that I need it most, I am superwoman. If it takes being superwoman every few days to carry us all through 2021, I will do it. I will do what it takes. My purpose is to serve. My purpose is to help others cope. And when you live in purpose you find a strength that you did not know existed. 

At the end of the day, the future waits for no one. It comes full force with whatever it decides to carry. So, if it’s going to be a hurricane, best believe you are not alone to face it. I am in the hurricane too. It is the same storm that we face even thousands of miles apart. We’ve got this. Hand in hand. Arm in arm. Heart to heart. 

You need me and I need you.


Sabriya Dobbins graduated from North Carolina State University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Animal Science and Social Work. After experiencing her own difficult mental health battles, she created Project Passport with the dream of providing a transformational and experiential mental well-being retreat experience that focused primarily on solutions to help people improve their overall mental wellbeing and daily happiness. She also wanted to create dynamic retreat spaces for people to challenge the status quo of mental health and to achieve personal development. With certifications in CBT, NLP, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, and Life Purpose Coaching, she helps individuals reach their greater capacities and pushes them to pursue their goals and aspirations through unconventional, hands-on experiences. We are the sole architects of our lives, she believes, hence it is our responsibility to design masterpieces that we believe in.

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