Feeling worn out? Starting your own business requires long hours and late nights, and many entrepreneurs find themselves sleep deprived. Sleep isn’t the only area of life that gets affected of course. Diet, relationships and general wellbeing are all in the firing line. And whilst it’s part and parcel of being an entrepreneur to make short term sacrifices for your vision, the health of your company will suffer if you don’t take care of yourself too.
With some planning, it is possible to find better balance. Here are five achievable strategies for improving your mental and physical health as an entrepreneur.
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1. Get creative with exercise
Heading down to the gym might be out of the question, but it’s still important to stay active. Exercise isn’t only a powerful stress reliever, toxin cleanser and a way to stay in good shape, it clears your mind and opens it up to new ideas that could benefit your business. Runners often talk about how they do their best thinking while they’re logging miles, so think of exercise as time for problem solving.
Some of the things you can do to keep up a good exercise regime without feeling like you’re losing valuable work time are:
- Using a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair
- Going for a walk at lunch (for at least 15 minutes), when you’re stuck in a lengthy phone call or whenever you feel yourself getting stressed
- Cycling or running to work, or simply getting off public transport a few stops before your usual destination and walking from there
- Doing quick exercises like squats, planks and crunches between tasks — try with 5 minutes every hour to begin with
2. Try meditation
With a range of apps to support different approaches and levels, meditation keeps growing in popularity. Fundamentally, it is about training your breathing and teaching your mind to be in the here and now rather than panicking about tomorrow. As a result, people find themselves able to relax and take a step away from the stress and worry.
When you’re suffering from poor sleep or feeling tired from a hectic morning, meditation charges you back up. People not only feel calmer and happier after a few minutes, they’re often re-energised.
It has also been shown to improve focus, reduce social anxiety and help people give up bad habits — and what entrepreneur couldn’t use any of those?
3. Prepare yourself for sleep
There’s no way around it — sleep is important. Lack of time isn’t always the cause for sleep deprivation though. Many people (not just entrepreneurs) don’t realise that you have to set yourself up for a good rest. This comes in the form of rituals like cutting out caffeine later in the day, gradually lowering indoor lighting after dark and not looking at screens right before you settle down. Try and plan the 25 minutes before bedtime to be as calm, wholesome and tech-free as you can.
4. Set healthy goals
You’re fully aware of what jobs need doing when you begin the working day. If you can start to see healthy choices as part of that routine, it will become easier to achieve them.
Start small. When you see empty periods on your schedule, block them out for meditation or brief exercise. When cooking dinner, make a little extra to take to work so you don’t impulse buy snacks and fast food at work. If you realise you have a couple of evenings free, hold that time to spend with loved ones, read a book or catch up on some much needed rest.
After a week or two of small successes, you’ll find that healthier living starts to come naturally — you’ll start doing it on autopilot.
5. Be kind to yourself
Stepping away even for a moment might sound crazy when you run your own business. But whilst a two week holiday might be too much, an afternoon spent unwinding and getting a change of scene works wonders. When you give yourself a clean — if brief — break from work, your head clears and your perspective changes. Things that felt unachievable suddenly don’t seem so daunting.
It’s also important that you have the basic resources to stay healthy and content. That means paying yourself a reasonable amount to eat, buy new clothes and stay on top of your bills at home.
It’s understandable that you may want to put your business before everything else, but forgoing you will lead to issues in the long run. From being a better leader for your employees, to providing better customer service and having the creativity to come up with new business ideas, improving your health will feed right back into your business.
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