Entrepreneurs are special people. They are risk-takers, people who put everything on the line, and they pursue their path through blood, sweat and tears. It takes a lot of grit and determination to start and maintain a business. More than ever, entrepreneurs are experiencing significant challenges to keep their business afloat, maintain employees, and keep the doors open. While these dynamic individuals persevere in their pursuits, they often forget to take care of themselves.
It can be easy for entrepreneurs to pour themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally into a business. Yet, business owners can get back into a healthy place — all while growing their business.
Here is the entrepreneurs’ guide to self-care:
Fit Fitness In
Today’s entrepreneur is reliant on digital technologies to build a business. This can lead to long hours spent in front of a computer, becoming a sedentary situation. While it is okay to sit for short periods of time, remaining active is much healthier. Physical activity can be a great stress reliever for entrepreneurs. You know how great you feel after you exercise, but many small business owners have a difficult time finding time to eat, let alone fit in a workout. To get the benefit of exercise endorphins without a huge time commitment, divide your workout into morning and evening sessions. Take a shorter online yoga or stretch class in the morning and switch it up in the evening. Run fewer miles but consider a HIIT strategy of running faster and shorter distances. Now is the time to get out and away from the work desk and work up a sweat.
Keep to a Daily Routine
Entrepreneurs can be juggling many responsibilities at once, so it’s beneficial to keep a daily routine as much as possible. You don’t have to follow the exact schedule, but it will provide a blueprint on how to shape your day. Creating structure in your days is also a fantastic way for entrepreneurs to care for themselves. It will allow you to stay clear-headed and focused on your path.
Start by composing a list of all your tasks for the day. The successful entrepreneur creates a routine which could be waking up at a specific time, exercising, eating breakfast, and reading. Having a morning routine helps you start the day on the right track and keeps you grounded and consistent. Spend the last hour of your day organizing your workspace for tomorrow and reviewing what meetings or appointments are scheduled.
Take a Vacation
When you are your own boss, you no longer have the luxury of a paid vacation, and many business owners do not take time off. Or, if they do, they feel tremendous guilt about leaving their company. If you can take time off — do! Getting away provides you with much-needed relaxation and allows you to remember what is most important in life. If you can’t take weeks away from work, especially during your company’s early years, then consider micro-breaks — two days off to shut down and reboot can leave you refreshed.
It’s not just an adage that laughter is medicine — it is scientifically proven that laughter improves mental relaxation, lowers blood pressure and pain, and even improves immunity. Being an entrepreneur means long hours and often a high level of stress as the economic climate changes. Take time to joke with co-workers, family, and friends, or watch a funny clip and feel the relief and emotional release of a good laugh.
Connect with Others
Human interaction may not be built into your day as an entrepreneur the way it was at your last corporate job. Often when we become absorbed in a new business project, it becomes challenging to fit connecting with others into a busy workday. Leaving a work environment to venture out can be exciting, rewarding, yet often isolating. You may never see your customers or vendors the way you used to, and your social life may be impacted by your new business responsibilities. Further, loneliness can take a psychological toll, and even contribute to physical health problems. Add a calendar item to your weekly schedule that makes time for a connection. Call an old friend, a former colleague, or someone you want to add to your network.
Learn Something New
One of the many rewards of starting a business is the non-stop influx of further information you can tap into to increase your expertise in an area. An easy way to garner valuable insights is from business blogs that share ideas on everything from learning about financing to how to set up your company’s legal structure.
Separate Work from Personal Life
As entrepreneurs control the direction and are “in charge” of their business, the commitment and stresses can be great. That said, it’s critical to set boundaries and keep your business separate from your personal life. For some, this could mean not taking a business phone call while on a date. For others, it could mean leaving your devices in the office while you play with your child. Every situation is different but equally important to create clear boundaries between your personal life and your business life.
Being mindful of what you eat, especially while building a business, can help you manage stress levels and change the way you respond to it. Food choices have a direct impact on cognitive performance, so it’s important to make the right choices. To avoid poor food choices, plan ahead. Prepare healthy snacks and meals for the week in advance. When in doubt, choose greens — increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables actually impacts engagement and creativity at work. Stop eating and snacking at least three hours before bedtime. This allows for proper digestion and helps avoid heartburn which can keep you awake at night.
Get Enough Sleep
It goes without saying, but don’t forget to get enough sleep. The importance of getting enough quality sleep is crucial to overall health and well-being. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night after a busy workday building your business, turn off your electronic devices, as this technology is known to negatively impact sleep. Break away from electronics the hour before you go to bed, and your brain will be more ready to retire for the night. The bedtime hours are also a good time to perform some relaxation techniques. Take time to let your mind and body unwind with deep breathing, relaxing stretches, and mindful meditation. Also make every effort to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This creates a sleep rhythm that your body will thank you for.
Take a Rest Day
Working for yourself can be incredibly rewarding, but also difficult to unplug from the stress of running a business. Although it may seem obvious, one of the best ways to walk away from these pressures is to take a rest day when needed. This might mean spending a day at the park or getting away on a relaxing day trip with a friend or loved one.
Entrepreneurs take the plunge and venture into the unknown to live their dream of turning their passions into a business. As they put their heart and soul into their enterprise, small business owners need to make and take the time to take care of their most valuable employee: themselves!