Wellness brings the necessary elements of balance and health to our business lives to better ourselves and those around us.

Dr. Liia

Dr Liia Ramachandra, founder of skincare brand EpiLynx by Dr. Liia, shares three critical elements for success

Dr Liia Ramachandra is a serial entrepreneur and “liberated healthcare executive” who has focused her education, career and start-ups in the healthcare fields and industries with the mission to improve the lives of millions living with chronic illnesses. She is the Founder of EpiLynx by Dr. Liia, a skincare and cosmetics company focused on serving customers with the most common allergies to common ingredients and skin conditions. 

Born in Russia and raised in the Netherlands, Dr. Liia has trained and worked at premier institutions and companies in Europe, the Middle East and the United States before taking the leap into the entrepreneurial space. She is a doctor in pharmacy, a doctor in analytical chemistry and a business woman who has already contributed in the healthcare industry globally.

It’s with over 35 years of experience combined, that she and her husband decided to found EpiLynx by Dr. Liia. 

“Our focus is to design, formulate, manufacture and make available high-quality products and services,” says Dr. Liia. 

Dr Liia Ramachandra founder of EpiLynx by Dr. Liia. (Photo courtesy of Dr Liia Ramachandra)

Dr. Liia’s entrepreneurial journey began first as a research and development operation in mid-2018. 

“While many people have claimed “clean” or “organic” or “natural”, these do not denote what the customer experiences when they have a reaction to products,” says Dr. Liia. “We have focused on “medically-clean” to mean using ingredients and raw materials known to be clean when used on the skin, eyes, lips, etc.”

Extensive research of these materials were done by the co-Founders to understand the medical literature, the views of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the various medical societies addressing these autoimmune conditions and other groups important to the company’s mission to be cruelty-free to animals. 

“We believe that while we compete in the category of skincare and cosmetics, all our products are developed to ensure that we take the medical aspects of sensitivities to ingredients before we create the products,” says Dr. Liia. 

In an industry filled with false claims and very little regulation, those who suffer from sensitivities and autoimmune conditions are most at risk from suffering the consequences of putting unsafe products on your skin and around your eyes, lips, and other sensitive areas. This is why Dr. Liia is so passionate and driven to create products that are “medically-clean.” 

“We keep our message clear that while all people could benefit from using its high-quality, medically-clean products, we are really focused on those who would greatly benefit from them – those people who have sensitivities and autoimmune diseases.”

By early-2019 they began launching their first skincare products, and by 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Liia left her corporate executive role to run EpiLynx by Dr. Liia full time. 

The brand quickly pivoted to serve the unmet needs of the pandemic through at-cost hand sanitizers while they continued to grow EpiLynx by Dr. Liia despite the pandemic environment and the uncertainty it created for many.

“Purpose is the center of our mission,” says Dr. Liia. “That is what I am most proud of – we continued to grow our business but also served our customers with hand sanitizers at no profit to us. I hope to be an example of ‘With passion comes the desire to make a difference.’”

Shop EpiLynx products! 

EpiLynx

As EpiLynx by Dr. Liia continues to grow, setting their sights on expanding globally,  Dr. Liia reflects back on her journey so far and lessons learned. 

The hardest part she had to explore and build throughout her journey was learning agility and resilience. 

“There are so many facets to an entrepreneur’s journey that I really was naïve about so every time we did something that didn’t have the desired outcome, I had to learn and pivot my approach,” she says. 

Without learning and embracing this agility she believes she would have failed to launch and grow her business. 

“To grow, there is the need to continuously reinvent and transform around the core purpose of the business. In listening to customers, we get a lot of insights and ideas. We are in an untapped market of medically-clean skincare and cosmetic products.” 

Dr. Liia’s customer feedback has been a huge motivator in her journey. She says being able to impact and help the lives of millions is what drives her to achieve success. Customer reviews such as a woman with rosacea who found the perfect product to soothe her sensitive skin or a customer who struggled with expensive creams and lotions before finding EpiLynx and seeing results in just 10 days—these are the stories that push Dr. Liia forward to continue to develop new products and help millions. 

“As an entrepreneur, we live our companies while awake and sleeping,” says Dr. Liia.

Dr. Liia’s three critical elements for success:

  1. Be passionate about what you are doing. Have stamina as there are moments of exhilaration and moments of self-doubt. Even while our business is growing, I am never satisfied so I am constantly exploring how to meet the needs of our customer segment.
  2. Stay focused on why you started the business yet be willing to pivot if you find out new information in the category your business is in. For example, we started in skincare but were getting inundated with requests for cosmetics by those who loved using our skincare. So, we started developing cosmetic products. It turned out that even those not in our customer segments started using our cosmetic products.
  3. Have tenacity to work through the tough challenges and don’t feel alone doing it. Bring in people you can trust in building a business. Keep listening to your customers. I get a lot of energy from our co-Founder (husband), friends who love what I am doing and, most importantly, from our customers who write to EpiLynx by Dr. Liia everyday. When we get repeat customers who say that nothing worked for them until they found our products, I know we are doing the right thing.

You might be interested: Heal your heat-damaged hair and get your curls back with Pink Root Products by Mariel Mejia 


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4 Easy office yoga poses for the busy Latina entrepreneur 

Did you know it only takes 11 minutes of exercise per day to make a difference and reap the health benefits of exercise? This is great news for the busy Latina entrepreneur! 

We know it can be tough to make time for exercise in your busy schedules between juggling a business and personal life responsibilities. However, health is important and just a few minutes of exercise per day can go a long way in helping you manage your stress and stay fit. 

For Hispanic and Latino populations, primary health concerns include high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Additionally, sitting for long hours at a desk each day can cause health issues and weaken muscles. 

Many believe you cannot reap the benefits of daily exercise unless you commit to an hour or more per day, but according to a recent study only 11 minutes of daily exercise is needed to start seeing health improvements.  

Below are a few simple and easy office yoga poses for the busy Latina entrepreneur.

Try these easy office yoga poses at your desk 

yoga poses

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.

Sitting Crescent Moon 

  1. Interlace the fingers, pointing the index finger up over the head, press the feet into the floor and reach the fingers and crown up while relaxing the shoulders down and back.
  2. Exhale and press the right hip out to the side, arching over to the left. Keep the feet grounded and the legs and buttocks engaged. Reach up and out through the fingers and crown.
  3. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
  4. To release: inhale and press into the feet as you reach the fingers back up towards the ceiling.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Photo created by yanalya on freepik.

Seated Cat Cow Pose

  1. This common pose can be easily modified to do in a seated position. To begin, sit in a sturdy chair, feet flat on the ground. Sit toward the middle of the chair.
  2. Place the hands on the thighs.
  3. Inhale and arch the back, opening the chest and lifting the chin slightly.
  4. Exhale and round the back, drawing the chin toward the chest.
  5. Repeat slowly.

Shop yoga essentials and start your fitness journey today!

yoga poses

Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash.

Chair Twist 

  1. Sit sideways on a chair with the left side of the body against the back of the chair and the legs together. 
  2. On an exhalation, twist the body to the left and use your hands to grip the back of the chair, encouraging the torso deeper into the twist while the lower body maintains its position. 
  3. On an inhalation, release the hands and rotate the torso back to neutral. 
  4. Repeat the posture on the opposite side.
yoga poses

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.

Reverse Prayer Pose

  1. Sit near the edge of your chair. Reach your arms around behind you and bring your palms together, fingertips pointing down.
  2. Rotate your wrists and turn your fingertips in toward your spine until your fingertips are pointing up.
  3. Slide your palms back together in a prayer position.
  4. Use one hand to help pull the other hand up further on your back, to a comfortable spot. Be sure your shoulders are straight, not rounded.
  5. Press the outside edges of your palms lightly into your back. Press your palms together gently.
  6. Press your feet into the floor.
  7. Breathe deeply, completely filling and emptying your lungs. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 breaths.
  8. Exhale and release your arms.

Practicing a few simple poses a day will help you destress and remain healthy and balanced. If you’re looking to get more active this summer check out our 8 Relaxing summer activities for Latinas to recharge! 


*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy an item, we may earn a small commission.

Sources:

Yoga Basics

Yogapedia

Harvard Business Review

Health in Her HUE

Co-Founder Ashlee Wisdom shares how Health in Her HUE is closing the gap on racial health disparities

Health In Her HUE is a digital platform that connects Black women and women of color to culturally competent and sensitive healthcare providers, and offers health information and content that centers their lived experiences.

Health in Her HUE Co-Founder, Eddwina Bright. (Photo via Health in Her HUE)

Co-founded by Ashlee Wisdom and Eddwina Bright, Health in Her HUE started as a health app and has now transitioned from app to a full digital platform. Their mission is to reduce racial health disparities by leveraging the power of technology, media and community to improve health outcomes for Black women and women of color.

They are achieving this by bringing awareness to health and wellness issues in a relevant, engaging and accessible way while empowering women of color, and their allies, to share, learn and innovate around the health issues that disproportionately affect them.

Co-founder Ashlee Wisdom started building Health in Her Hue while she was an MPH student at New York University. 

In an article with Very Well Health, she shares, “I kept reading papers for different classes and seeing across the board the poor health outcomes that exist for Black women. I remember feeling really privileged to have this heightened awareness as a Black woman about health disparities. If I wasn’t sitting in this classroom, I wasn’t sure I would really be as aware of these issues. So I wanted to take information out of the ivory tower and make it more accessible and actionable for everyday Black women.”

The other part of her story that pushed Ashlee to create Health in Her HUE were her own experiences. While working in a very toxic work environment, Ashlee began breaking out in chronic hives. She saw an allergist—who happened to be a white woman—but her doctor could not determine the cause of the hives, despite numerous tests. 

Health in Her HUE

Health in Her HUE Co-Founder, Ashlee Wisdom. (Photo via Health in Her HUE)

“It never dawned on me to share with her like, ‘Hey, I’m working in this really racist environment and it’s toxic.’ I didn’t feel like she would be able to relate or even understand. When I left the toxic job, the hives stopped. I realized that the hives were being triggered by the stress that I was experiencing,” says Ashlee

Reflecting on that experience, Ashlee realized she communicated differently in her interactions with her Black gynecologist compared to how she communicated with her White allergist. 

“If I shared more with her about what was going on, she would have been able to get to the root cause of what was triggering the hives, as opposed to just telling me to take two Allegra every day to keep them contained.”

This feeling of miscommunication is something many women of color experience when it comes to healthcare. In a post on Instagram celebrating Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s birthday—the first black women physician in the US, Health in Her HUE write: 

“Diversity and cultural competency in medicine matters to patients. Research shows, across all races, patients are more likely to be satisfied with their care when their doctors look like them. But only 5% of the country’s doctors are Black, compared with 13% of the U.S. population and only 36% of doctors are women of any race.

The good news is that, between 1940 and 2018, the percentage of Black women physicians has increased by 2.7 percentage points. And medical schools say the number of first year Black students in the U.S. is way up – 21%, an unprecedented spike.”

You might be interested: Silvia Posada, Senior Vice President of Network & Growth at Essen shares why we need Latinas in healthcare

Working to close that gap and improve the experiences of women of color is ultimately what pushed Ashlee to move forward with creating Health in Her HUE. 

“I figured if no one else is building a solution to support Black women and women of color for navigating this healthcare system that really wasn’t designed for us, then I want to build something to help us.”

Today, the Health in Her HUE site provides a variety of resources—from helping women of color find culturally sensitive healthcare providers to digital content on various health issues that educates how they affect women of color. 

“We get lots of messages from both patients and providers who tell us that they’re really grateful about what we built because they’ve been able to make really meaningful connections and have had improved experiences with providers,” says Ashlee. “Those are some of the life-changing connections that we’ve been able to make and want to be able to continue to do so.”

Become part of our Latina Inner Circle Membership! 

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About Health in Her HUE’s Founders

Ashlee Wisdom is a public health innovator committed to achieving a more equitable healthcare ecosystem where all people can access the quality care they need and deserve. Wisdom received her BS from Howard University, and her Master of Public Health from New York University. She was named a 2021 Top 50 in digital health by Rock Health for her health equity advocacy.

Eddwina Bright is a strategic executor with a background in operations, process improvement, product development & management and finance. She is passionate about leveraging her experience to build companies from the ground-up. Eddwina received her AS from Baltimore City Community College where she graduated as Valedictorian of her class, her BS from Morgan State University, and her MBA from Columbia Business School.

Silvia Posada, Senior Vice President of Network & Growth at Essen shares why we need Latinas in healthcare

Silvia Posada, is a Latina healthcare professional currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Network & Growth at Essen Health Care, the largest privately-held multi-specialty medical group in New York City.

For the last 20 years, Silvia has worked in the healthcare industry to help others find the right access to care and health resources. 

Latina healthcare professional, Silvia Posada, Senior Vice President of Network & Growth at Essen Health Care. (Photo courtesy of Silvia Posada)

As a Colombian-born immigrant, she moved to New York City at 11 years old. Both her parents were immigrants and the family came to the US seeking better opportunities. 

Living in New York City for most of her life, Silvia has seen beyond the glamorous high-end stores and restaurants where large pockets of first and second-generation immigrants struggle everyday to make it in the city. 

 “As wealthy as many areas are, NYC is also the home of the Bronx which is the poorest Congressional district in all of the US,” says Silvia. 

Due to her experiences as an immigrant and child of immigrants, she is passionate and committed to helping people understand the healthcare resources available to them. 

“Being an immigrant myself, I know there is a huge educational piece that goes along with this. I am an ambassador for Social Determinants of Health and know these lower-income communities are unable to prioritize their health and wellbeing. My goal throughout my career is to make sure people know they have access to health insurance and preventative care.” 

According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, “Latinos still have the highest rates of uninsurance when compared to other groups in the U.S. Additionally, there continues to be a deficit of healthcare providers who understand the cultural and linguistic needs of diverse communities, which may contribute to miscommunication and poorer health outcomes.” 

Addressing these barriers is crucial to ensuring Latinos and other immigrant and minority populations receive access to equitable healthcare. These barriers are another reason why it is so important to have Latinas represented in the healthcare industry. Immigrants like Silvia bring a unique perspective to the field as well as cultural knowledge and language skills that can help reach immigrants in need of assistance when making healthcare decisions. 

Latina healthcare

Essen Health Care is the largest privately-held multi-specialty medical group in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Silvia Posada)

“Unfortunately, in the business world and especially in the 90s/early 2000s just being a woman and Latina is a struggle,” says Silvia. “Being accepted as a creditable thought leader in a male-dominated industry was something I always had to fight for but I knew I was good at training and directing my teams to produce quality work and exceed targets, so eventually the results and outcomes ended up speaking for themselves.”

Throughout her career, Silvia has used her various leadership positions to support other women in healthcare, especially single mothers. As a single mother herself when she began her career, Silvia knows the challenges and also how driven and passionate single moms can be. 

“I was always driven to provide a good quality of life for my son and upon entering this field, I noticed a lot of my employees and colleagues were in similar situations, doing what they needed to do to provide for their families. This is when I realized that I needed to help and empower other immigrants and women learn more than just business but financial planning,” Silvia says. 

During team meetings, Silvia began leading discussions on life goals, financial planning, how to get out of debt and start investing, and more. 

Expand your financial planning knowledge with titles on Audible today!

Latina healthcare

Silvia with Essen Health Care colleagues. (Photo courtesy of Silvia Posada)

“Unfortunately, financial planning isn’t something that is taught in high school or colleges and we just expect people to figure these things out on their own, while already in a huge amount of debt due to schooling or other needs,” says Silvia. “I wanted to help them break the cycle of poverty or living paycheck to paycheck and start to create generational wealth, teaching them how to move forward.” 

In addition to providing financial planning education to her colleagues, Silvia found herself hiring more single mothers in her workforce as well. 

“On the surface during interviews that wasn’t the purpose for hiring them but I just noticed a special spark and drive in those candidates. After hiring and working with them I found out a majority happened to be single mothers,” she says. 

After realizing this, Silvia began adapting the way she trained them, helping them to translate the “love of a mother” into a successful career. 

“By tapping into their infinite love for their children and drive to make sure they had all their needs met resulted in a WIN for everyone.” 

Silvia with children at Essen Health Care event. (Photo courtesy of Silvia Posada)

Restructuring the way she trained and worked with her team led to continued success, exceeding their goals and targets and eventually making history in becoming the fastest and largest growing Medicare Advantage Plan in NYC, which continues to this day to be the largest health insurance in the city. 

You might be interested: How your employer can better support Latina and minority women in the workplace

Relying on her strengths as a risk-taker and problem solver throughout her career, Silvia encourages other Latinas and women to always be resilient and push forward. 

“Nothing will ever be perfect without trial and error and I encourage that in the workplace. If something doesn’t work out professionally, it’s ok! I know I will bounce back.”

Additionally, she advises women to remain strong in your convictions, vision, and passion. “Become your number one supporter and fan,” she says, “And don’t ever let anyone doubt your ability to succeed. Handle doubters with a mix of eloquence and assertiveness, and let your success pave the way for the many other women who will follow in your footsteps!”


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Combating the damaging health effects of marianismo on Latinas in the workplace 

Cultural stereotypes and expectations can create barriers and lead to real health concerns for Latinas in the workplace. Marianismo is one of the primary cultural stereotypes that Latinas face, characterized by an idealized traditional feminine gender role that expects women to be submissive, selfless, and hyperfeminine. These rigid expectations can be overwhelming and create more workplace stress when Latinas do not fit the mold. 

Many Latinas in the workplace report feeling as though they are holding themselves back to fit into company cultures that are usually defined by traditionally masculine standards. One study found that 53% of Latinas reported that their workplace personas were defined by conforming to traditionally male standards. 

Machismo is the counter-side to marianismo and is characterized by male behavior that is strong, forecul, and dominating. When Latina women are in traditionally masuline spaces, they are expected to submit and follow, not lead. This can be challenging for women trying to get ahead and rise up to leadership positions in male-dominated workplaces. 

In a study by the Center for Women Policy Studies, 21% of women of color said they did not feel they were free to be “themselves at work.” Additionally, more than one third of women of color — ranging from 28 percent to 44 percent — feel they must “play down” their race or ethnicity to succeed in their careers. 

Listen to new titles by your favorite Latinas today on Audible! 

Negative health consequences of marianismo and cultural stereotypes 

For many Latinas, the stress to conform to cultural stereotypes such as marianismo can lead to chronic stress and burnout. 

Burnout is categorized as an occupational syndrome, “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burnout can effect Latinas in industries that promote a capitalist culture of constant productivity, with little regard for one’s mental and emotional boundaries

Due to stereotypes, many Latinas might feel expected to take on more responsibilities than their other team members. (Photo source:  freepik – www.freepik.com)

In workplace environments like this, Latinas might be expected to shoulder larger workloads with little to no extra compensation. Because cultural expectations, such as marianismo, believe women should be “self-sacrificing” and take care of others, many Latinas might be expected to take on more responsibilities than their other team members. 

Many Latinas have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, taking on greater caretaking responsibilities, losing jobs, and struggling financially. These factors can also put pressure on Latinas in the workplace to take on more work and ask for little in return for fear of losing the stability of a job and paycheck. 

You might be interested: 4 Tips for Latina and minority women on setting boundaries in the workplace

If unchecked, chronic stress and burnout can lead to health issues such as depression, anxiety, anger, and cynical hostility, adversely influencing cardiometabolic health. One study on Machismo, Marianismo, and Negative Cognitive-Emotional Factors found that  Hispanics—the largest U.S. ethnic minority group —are more likely to meet criteria for major depression than non-Hispanic Whites and are also more likely overall to develop diabetes and heart disease. Chronic stress is a contributing factor to the development of these health issues. 

Pushing back against cultural stereotypes can be difficult and daunting, but it is necessary to advocate for oneself and for other Latinas in the workplace. When left unchecked, chronic stress can lead to many negative health consequences that no one should have to face. Setting healthy boundaries and speaking up against biases and unfair treatment is crucial to establishing a positive workplace environment for all. 


*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

cactus water

Latina entrepreneur Sarita Lopez shares cactus water health benefits with beverage line ¡CACTUS!  

Sarita Lopez grew up eating Nopales but didn’t truly appreciate their health benefits and rich history until she began farming and selling the paddles at local markets. Since then, she has created two cactus water lines in hopes of introducing the amazing health benefits of cactus water to more of the US. 

Sarita Lopez, founder of ¡CACTUS! (Photo courtesy of Sarita Lopez)

Sarita’s career in the beverage industry began when she moved to Austin, Texas after college and soon received a job at a large soda company. After seeing the difficulties of having a beverage business, she swore she would never start one of her own.

However, all of that changed after she moved back to her hometown of Napa, CA, to start an organic farm with her family.

On their farm, wild cactus paddles grew on their land and one day a worker suggested they harvest the paddles because of their popularity in the Latino and Hispanic market. 

“Growing up, I knew what Nopales were and ate them, but never knew about their history or healthy benefits. I began to research them and spoke to family and friends familiar with this particular cactus. When I found out how much goodness was packed inside the paddles, I began to incorporate them into my life,” Sarita says. 

“Within two weeks, the eczema that plagued me my whole life began to clear up and my digestion felt better than ever. I became driven to learn as much as I could about this ancient plant and spent hours exploring its nutritional marvel, moved by the many studies about its benefits and rich background.” 

Through her research, Sarita learned the fascinating cultural history surrounding the cactus plant and its uses in medicine and wellness. 

Just a few amazing cactus water health benefits

The Nopal cactus leaf contains antioxidants, betalains, electrolytes, amino acids – plus a uniquely powerful hydrocolloid that promotes absorption and retention in your body. For generations, Latin American healers called curanderos have recommended cactus leaf for colds, skin conditions, digestion and more. 

Today’s research shows components of cactus leaf may promote health benefits such as muscle recovery, combat free radicals and oxidative stress linked to inflammation, support cardio and skin health, and may even lessen the effects of hangovers.

Nopal cactus leaves contain many amazing health benefits and have been used for centuries in Latin American folk medicine. (Photo courtesy of Sarita Lopez)

“I began to sell cactus paddles, and customers raved of their benefits and features.” 

Then Sarita found out that most of her customers were juicing the Nopales and this sparked an idea. She decided to combine her worlds of beverage and farming and launched her first cactus water in 2017, “Green-Go” which later evolved and became ¡CACTUS!

Standing strong like a cactus in the face of challenges

Aside from her passion for cactus water and sharing its health benefits with people, another motivating factor to launch her business was her desire to honor her heritage and her family. 

“I watched my father, a Hispanic scientist, face racism in his work world and while living in Napa. I swore that if given the chance, I would create something of my own, just like my dad, to help combat the idea that the color of skin would and could not dictate a person’s path in life. I am fiercely proud of my heritage and love that I have a platform to speak about Nopales, a food that has been eaten for centuries by indigenous people whom I share blood with,” Sarita shares with Latinas in Business

Throughout her entrepreneurial journey, Sarita has also learned a lot. When she first started out, there was some stumbling as she navigated this new process. 

“It’s easy to spend too much money too quickly,” she says. “Looking back, I signed with top distributors and brokers too soon and sold in too many states for the profits to make sense. I now work with the Small Business Development Center and connected with a financial advisor who helped me create a strong budget with realistic projected expenses and sales. There is a lot of free help for small businesses. I also realized the benefit of creating a business plan. Numbers truly don’t lie!”

After launching her first cactus beverage line in 2017, she received some good press and attention, but by 2019 Sarita decided it was time to evolve her brand. 

Sarita rebranded her business just before the pandemic hit, yet her company was able to weather the storm and come out strong and resilient like a cactus. (Photo courtesy of Sarita Lopez)

“I started with the product. After much research and taste testing, I moved from one unsweetened, zero-calorie cactus water in aseptic cardboard to three popular organic flavors, each lightly sweetened with organic agave (5g sugar, 30 calories) and packaged in 12-ounce recyclable sleek cans. And I changed the brand name to ¡CACTUS! to more directly convey that our product is cactus water—important given the multitude of beverage products on store shelves.”

With a new look, name, and flavors 2020 started strong for Sarita and ¡CACTUS! Even the pandemic could not sway them. 

“Just like a cactus being able to survive some of the harshest elements on earth, our company survived 2020 and we are stronger because of it,” Sarita writes on her site

Today, Sarita continues to strive for success with her company, not just for herself but for all the people who have been part of her journey and believe in her company. 

“I want them to share in the riches as well. The old cliché is true – there is no “I” in “team!” Knowing that I can share my victories with the people who have been by my side since the beginning is what gets me out of bed, ready to start a new and beautiful day,” she says. 

To other Latinas and minority women entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own venture, Sarita “really, REALLY” recommends creating a business plan! 

“Figuring out your market, expenses and sales projections helps you make sure you are on track for success. Use as many free or not-so expensive resources as possible, such workshops and classes through your local Small Business Administration.” 

“Everyone has a great idea or two, but the ones that have a chance in making that dream come to life are those who put ideas into action!” 

mental health

The state of mental health for Latinas and the Hispanic community

Hispanics and Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the U.S, as they make up 18.5% of the population, equal to roughly 60.5 million people. And because of the unique barriers that this community faces, the state of mental health is alarming. For one, over 10 million of the total population is reported to suffer from a mental illness in 2021. And among that number, only around 55% of them will seek mental health treatment.

It’s important to educate the Hispanic community on mental health and offer help to those that need it. However, it would first be worth understanding why a stigma on mental health exists among the population.

Latinas, Hispanic culture and mental health

Culture plays a huge part in the pressures to conceal mental health problems. The Hispanic community has its own belief system and culture-bound syndromes — which are behavioral, affective, and cognitive manifestations of deviance from the usual behavior of people in that culture. For instance, ataque de nervios, or attack of the nerves, is a culture-bound syndrome characterized by uncontrollable screaming, crying, and dissociative experiences. Doctors may attribute these to anxiety disorders, but in Latino culture more importance is given to religion and they can sometimes look at mental health conditions as a spiritual problem rather than a medical condition.

The culture also keeps parental authority in high regard for life. This doesn’t give Hispanic children space to talk about their mental health even within the family — especially if parents have decided treatments are something they don’t need. Concepts like machismo (an exaggerated sense of masculinity where men must provide and protect the family) and marianismo (toxic femininity where women should strive to be pure and moral like the Virgin Mary) also uphold the idea that mental health care is taboo since it puts yourself first before others.

Where do we go from here?

It seems difficult to penetrate a traditional and deeply rooted culture, but organizations have already been working to destigmatize mental health within the community. There are online health resources, such as the Compartiendo Esperanza, which is a video series that shows the journey of mental wellness in the Latino community. Meanwhile, Mental Health America has a list of screening tools and materials in Spanish to break the language barrier.

For those who are struggling financially, you can contact a local health clinic or your local government, or call the National Treatment Referral Helpline to see what services you qualify for. Meanwhile, for immigrants who don’t have legal documentation, there are clinics and resources that care for everyone regardless of legal status — especially Latino-based organizations. But if you prefer to keep any therapy sessions discreet and away from prying eyes, there are remote mental health providers here in New Jersey and across the country. They’re able to offer the same level of care that on-site providers give.

Outside of these resources and organizations, members of the Latino community can look up to fellow Hispanic and Latina celebrities who have spoken about mental health. In March 2020, Selena Gomez revealed she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder — and she’s been quite open about her struggles. She even shared her strategies for bad mental health days, which included exercising and calling a friend. And to reach out and provide support to people who need it, she co-launched Wondermind, a mental health platform, in February 2022.

Destigmatizing mental health is difficult, especially if you grew up in a culture that sees talking about and managing mental health as taboo. However, Latino individuals are now given more opportunities to speak about and to seek help for their mental health. With more figures from the community talking about it, organizations can make mental health services more accessible.

You might be interested: How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

We’re all  familiar with the term “burnout”, a term that is used over and over again in the workplace and often synonymous with being “stressed out.” However, burnout is more than just usual workplace stress and it can have lasting effects on one’s physical and mental health if not addressed properly. Below are some resources for recognizing burnout symptoms and tips for managing them. 

Burnout is on the rise 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recategorized burnout as an occupational syndrome, “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Previously, burnout was only considered “state of vital exhaustion,” though the Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to diagnose burnout, and it is still widely used today. 

This diagnostic tool, developed by Christina Maslach, Professor of Psychology (Emerita) and a core researcher at the Healthy Workplaces Center at the University of California, Berkeley, is used by experts to identify burnout in individuals. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, burnout occurs when these three factors are present: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.

An article by Forbes reported that workplace burnout is on the rise since the pandemic began. A study conducted by the job-seeking site, Indeed, found that: 

  • 52% of survey respondents are experienced burnout in 2021—up from the 43% who reported burnout in Indeed’s pre-pandemic survey. 
  • Millennials are the most affected population, with 59% reporting feelings of burnout. However, Gen Z is following closely behind at 58%, up from 47% pre-pandemic. Additionally, Baby Boomers reported a 7% increase in burnout since the pandemic began, now at 31% compared to the 24% reported pre-COVID-19. Finally, Gen X is close in numbers with Millennials and Gen Z, with over half (54%) of Gen Xers reporting experiences of burnout in the workplace. 

COVID-19 shook up the workforce globally, leading to drastic changes in workplace environments. While working from home may have been easy or beneficial for some, others struggled to adapt and establish routines or juggle both work and family. Among those who responded to Indeed’s survey, 80% believe Covid-19 impacted workplace burnout with a 67% majority saying burnout has worsened since the pandemic, while 13% believe it has gotten better.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Signs of burnout in the workplace

The signs of burnout are not always easy to spot, especially while they’re happening. Many brush off burnout as simple workplace stress. Everyone has bad days, right? But burnout is more than just a few bad days or even a bad week.

Burnout is when there never seems to be a good day anymore. Burnout is a chronic response to untreated workplace stress. If you think you may be experiencing burnout, it’s crucial you take a step back and seek help to navigate and overcome these feelings, because burnout can take a toll not only on your mental health, but your physical health as well. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered yes to any or all of these, you may be experiencing burnout. These may also be signs of other mental health issues, such as depression, so it’s important you speak to your doctor or mental health provider about these feelings. 

Other key signs of burnout include: 

  • Not feeling excited about your work anymore
  • You have stopped putting your usual effort into your work
  • You’re exhausted, easily drained, and emotionally depleted
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as insomnia, chest pains, headaches or migraines, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, or gastrointestinal pain. 

What you can do to manage burnout and how employers can help 

Managing burnout is usually not something you can do alone because burnout is a result of workplace stressors which are often outside of your own control. This is why it is important for employers to be aware of burnout and work with their employees to address the common triggers. 

On the personal level, you can work to change your mindset and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress. Practicing mindfulness and exercising regularly are great ways to naturally cope with stress. Setting aside time each day to do something fun and creative is also a great way to get rid of stressful energy and cultivate joy. 

Another way to deal with burnout is to make changes in the workplace, such as changing your workload, taking a vacation, or even a prolonged break, and making changes on a systematic level. This is where employers come in. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, approach your boss to have a conversation about the fact that you feel overworked and identify ways to change your workload.

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Employers should also lead by example, cultivating a work-life balance and encouraging employees to use their vacation days and sick leave when needed. One way to encourage work-life balance is to set clear boundaries for when someone is “on the clock” and when they are not, such as only responding to work-related emails during the workday and not glamorizing or encouraging overtime work. 

The most important thing is open communication and speaking up when it all feels too much. Burnout in the workplace doesn’t have to be inevitable.