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Short on sleep? Launching your own business requires a lot of long hours and late nights, and that doesn’t often change once everything is up and running. As a result, many entrepreneurs are in a constant state of sleep deprivation.
In fact, a survey of small businesses by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index found that respondents slept an average of 6.7 hours a night, and they worked an average of 14 hours a day. These conditions, combined with the stress of running a small business, can result in negative health outcomes for entrepreneurs.
The concept of a work-life balance might seem laughable, but the health of your business will suffer if you don’t take care of yourself. Here are some strategies for boosting your personal well-being while you’re building a business.
1. Get creative with exercise.
You might not be able to make it to the gym every day, and that’s OK, but you need to find ways to move every day. On days when you can’t fit in a proper workout, try taking the stairs, getting off at an earlier train stop and walking the rest of the way to work, or walking to get your lunch instead of having it delivered.
Exercise is not only a massive stress reliever but also a way to clear your mind and open it up to new ideas — 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 creative problem solving and ideating.
2. Start meditating.
The ancient practice of meditation is finally getting mainstream attention for its myriad health benefits. And, in keeping with our modern times, there are apps for that.
At its core, meditation is about focusing on your breath, and as a result, you’re able to relax and take a step away from negative thoughts. Meditation has also been shown to improve your focus, memory, and ability to multitask — and what entrepreneur couldn’t use a boost in those areas?
3. Get more sleep.
There’s no badge of honor for pulling the most all-nighters. It’s terrible for your health, and it’s bad for business, too. When you’re short on sleep, your interactions with staff and clients can suffer. It can also be difficult to make smart, level-headed decisions about your company.
Shoot for eight hours a night, or as close as you can get. Some days and weeks are busier than others, but avoid falling into a routine in which you’re consistently trying to get by on as little sleep as possible.
4. Set healthy habits.
The best way to make lasting change is to integrate it into your daily routine. So whether you want to start eating healthier, exercising, or going to bed at a reasonable hour, make a concerted effort to do it every day until it becomes so natural that you no longer have to try to do it — you just do it.
5. Get away.
When you run your own business, stepping away even for an afternoon might sound insane. And it’s true that jetting off on a two-week vacation isn’t advisable when your company is in its early days, but once you’re on solid footing, it’s incredibly important to take some time for yourself.
Get away from your daily environment and reconnect with the people you love. When you give your brain a break from your everyday life and problems, you can come back with a clear head and an even stronger drive to succeed.