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Success through Self Care

Interview in the NZ Business Magazine

Michaiah Simmons-Villari believes ‘wellness whatever it takes’ is the key to business success. She shares her success recipe around self-care and business (aka work-life balance) and highlights the importance of mental health, particularly for business owners.

Being able to survive in business in a very competitive industry is something to be proud of, but it can also take its toll on your health and wellness.

Here are some of my tips to help business owners look after ‘number one’ while still keeping an eye on their bottom line and delivering value to clients and customers.

Constantly revisit and reconnect with your goal

I have an events business (Deluxe Events) and co-own a restaurant (Al Volo Pizza) with my husband. I also have other projects on the go, so life is busy.

Whether you have one business or a few, it’s so easy to get caught up in your to-do list and the day-to-day running of the business that you can lose sight of what you’re actually trying to achieve.

Revisiting your goals is very important – knowing who you want to work with, what you want to be doing and where you want to be. I recently found a vision board I had made years ago and realised I had worked with most of the brands I had put on that vision board – which was a cool moment. Revisiting your goals and knowing what you want to achieve is crucial. If you don’t have direction and a strong enough ‘WHY’ it can make pushing through the challenges of business even harder.

Making sure that you and your business partner (if you have one) are on the same page is also vital – ie: what is the plan in one year, two years, five years, ten years. Do you have an exit strategy? Do you want to grow your business and sell it or hold onto it? If you have different ideas to your partner then you are both in for trouble.

Identifying burnout before it happens and filling your cup

When you love what you do and there’s an endless list of tasks, burnout can happen if you don’t manage to delegate and bring some calm into your crazy pace. I worked seven days a week for so long and it’s definitely not sustainable.

Because my business is so people-focused I really value having time away from all that. Swapping high heels for running shoes and getting outdoors or spending time doing something that ‘fills your cup’ is vital. For me it’s yoga and working out at the gym, walks with my two Italian greyhounds Romeo and Julius and watching sunsets.

The key is to identify burnout before it happens. For me it was insomnia and exhaustion and then taking action to create some calm.

Do a digital detox

Depression is on the rise and it’s no surprise in this digital age where we’ve become ever-available and contactable and shutting off is really hard.

Putting boundaries in place around when we’re available is a start, but turning your brain ‘off’ from work is tricky. That, together with spending more time online and judging our own lives by other peoples’ highlight-reel, makes it hard to feel at peace with ourselves and our lives.

I try to have Sundays fairly phone free (I keep it on silent and only communicate with people if I really need to). I am working on making more quality time with my husband and friends and I believe that we need to connect with other people on a deeper level to feel that sense of human connection.

Perhaps because I’ve always spoken openly about depression and mental health, people often come to me to share their struggles and reach out for help. People feel safe to come to me with their issues because I too have walked that path and have no judgement on them around it.

Constantly being ‘on’ is hard both on our mental health and our ability to get adequate sleep and down time. That is when our mental health starts to decline. So for me and anyone with mental health issues, anxiety, depression and/or a feeling of being overwhelmed, making sleep a priority is key.

Nutrition is also a big factor in how you function. If you do not get enough nutrients, your brain will not be able to function optimally. And physically you will not have the energy you need to run a business and live your life. This spirals when you start consuming too much bad food and drink to give yourself a boost (which is only going to last temporarily before you crash down). I’m an advocate for a plant-based diet (vegan) and occasionally eat seafood for the omegas and zinc. I’m also a coeliac. It is so important for me to eat a clean nutrient-rich diet, otherwise I start to get sick, and I burn out so much easier. People are too quick to dismiss the importance of a good diet.

Having an attitude of gratitude and mindfulness

Mindfulness is not just about yoga and writing in your gratitude journal – it’s about being mindful of who you’re spending your time with, and what food and products you’re putting in and on your body.

The media we consume (news, books, magazines, TV, etc) has an impact on us. Who you spend your time with is also important. Some studies indicate that there is a transfer of energy between people and that we do absorb the energy of those we spend time with. So think about the people you spend the most time with. Do you like who they are? What they do? Do you want to be more like them or less like them? Do they inspire you or drag you down? Do they make you feel happy and positive or sad and negative?

The people you spend time with impact your energy and your mental state. Find people who inspire you. People who are doing what you want to be doing, or have the personality traits you want to have, and spend more time with them.

Overall I think we need to be honest with ourselves – is what we are doing presently sustainable? Are we growing a business only to run ourselves into the ground?

I believe in working hard and creating success, but for me that has to come with a firm focus on wellness.

Or as I like to say, “wellness whatever it takes”.

Michaiah Simmons-Villari is an entrepreneur, speaker and mental health advocate. Visit or

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