Mental Wellness & that #EntrepreneurLife Part 1

By: Jaja Chen , LCSW, CDWF

My passion for self-care and burnout prevention began during my Master of Social Work (MSW) research project. For my project, I researched how self-care impacted counselor secondary trauma and burnout (compassion fatigue) levels. Much of the research on burnout comes from the fields of social work and medicine. However, since my grad school years, I have wondered if similar concepts can be applied to business and entrepreneurship.

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Unaddressed burnout can lead to:

• Feelings of hopelessness

• Reduced motivation in one’s work

• Loss of job satisfaction

• Fatigue

• Low frustration tolerance

• Declined interactions with relationships outside of work

• Unexplainable physical health complaint

Burnout can show up in our bodies physically as anxiety, tension, continual headaches, and difficulty sleeping.

Why discuss mental wellness and burnout amongst entrepreneurs?


Well – if you would have asked me during grad school if I would 1.) Start an organic bubble milk tea business with my husband Devin and name it Waco Cha ( AND 2.) Become a private practice therapist, I would have thought you were joking! I had no idea that I would be pursuing business and entrepreneurship alongside being a social worker and trauma therapist.

Entering the world of entrepreneurship inspired me to not only “figure out” burnout prevention for myself but to also help fellow entrepreneurs be able to thrive in the work that they are doing. We need entrepreneurs to be healthy for our communities so that the talents and giftings we have to offer can continue to be given.

My background in social work is why I care about mental health amongst all people – not just individuals with mental health concerns, but mental health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the
normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Health is not an absence of disease or illness but “a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.”

In order for Waco to become a healthy prospering community, we need to focus on the holistic care and mental wellness of all individuals, businesses, and organizations in our city. This includes fellow entrepreneurs whom are moving, shifting, and innovating day in and day out! Entrepreneurial mental wellness impacts leadership and organizational development at many levels – and ultimately employees, families, and our communities.

Stay tuned in upcoming weeks when we discuss why and how burnout impacts entrepreneurs and what to do to prevent and respond to burnout.

For Immediate Help Suicide Prevention Lifeline ( 1-800-273-8255

About the Author

Jaja Chen, LCSW, CDWF is a social worker and therapist by day, Waco Cha co-owner by night. Jaja is a Certified EMDR Therapist and specializes in trauma, maternal mental health, and helping fellow helping professionals and entrepreneurs manage and work through the impacts of compassion fatigue and burnout. Jaja and her husband Devin run Waco Cha at the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market each Saturday 9am-1pm and are current members of both the Cen-Tex African American and Cen-Tex Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. Jaja can be reached via e-mail at or through her webpage at