In this day and age, more and more people are thinking “outside the box” and starting their own companies and businesses.
Are you one of these people?
Entrepreneurship isn’t an easy path to take by any means, though it can be greatly rewarding in the long-run. It’s busy, it’s demanding, it takes a lot of self discipline and it has a tendency to take a lot out of you mentally, emotionally and even physically.
If you’re not careful, you’ll look at the clock one night and realize…
It’s 3 AM in the morning. You don’t remember the last time you ate. You’re likely dehydrated. Your eyes feel like you haven’t blinked in days. Your phone is exploding with missed calls and texts. You missed that appointment or class you had scheduled earlier that evening. You gotta wake up for your day job in the next couple hours.
Maybe not to the letter, but this is a very common scenario for the early stages of entrepreneurship. Many people will be working their butts off to get their business off the ground while also balancing a day job, supporting a family, upholding a household, taking care of financial needs and handling all the curve balls life has to throw at them. They end up sacrificing a lot of the time they once used to tend to themselves, spend time with loved ones, relax, etc. to give their business the time and effort it needs to be successful.
In the thick of starting and nurturing a business, it can become so easy to forget to nurture yourself.
You might be thinking about how you don’t have the time to focus on self care and that you have this or that deadline and your business will suffer if you take time for yourself, but I can promise you that if you do keep foregoing self care on your entrepreneurship journey, not only you, but your business will ultimately feel the blow.
On the other hand, if you do take the time to follow these self care entrepreneurship strategies, then you will have so much more to give for your business and it will be so much more likely to thrive, rather than barely making it off the ground and running you dry in the process.
If you are an entrepreneur, especially a new one, then these self care strategies are for you:
Breathing is such a natural part of life that many people barely give it a second thought, but when you’re super focused on something (like starting a business), your breathing patterns can get thrown off and you might not be getting the proper air supply your body (and brain) needs to function.
Mindful breathing has been proven to help reduce stress, lower heart rates, stabilize blood pressure, increase focus and so much more. Take some time every day to just sit and breathe slowly, releasing your frustrations and stressors with every exhale and breathing in peace and calm with every inhale. Whenever you find yourself getting overwhelmed, even just stopping and breathing for a minute or two can make all the difference.
#2. Minimize Stress Through Exercise
Get up and move! One of the best known stress relievers (besides mindful breathing) is exercise. Exercise also helps you stay in shape, keeps your heart healthy, keeps your mind clear, aids in your fitness goals, helps you get better sleep, boosts your brainpower, gives you a natural energy boost and more.
Don’t let this overwhelm you, your exercise doesn’t have to be anything crazy or cost you an expensive membership at a gym (though if the gym is your thing, then go for it!). Focus on getting in at least 20-30 minutes of exercise a day and do something you enjoy: take the dog for a walk, pick up a yoga practice, go on a hike, look up some at-home workouts online, go for a run, dance to your favorite music, whatever you want.
#3. Sleep More (And Better)
When starting a business, sleep can often be one of the first sacrifices you make. Consistent lack of sleep or sleep deprivation, however, can reduce your decision making abilities, stunt creativity, contribute to weight gain and cause fatigue, among many other things. Sure, you might get a lot done during those late night hours, but at what cost?
It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sometimes this takes shifting your time management around, dropping some obligations, prioritizing differently, etc., but it’s definitely worth it in the long-run, especially for your own health and the state of your business. Besides, when you get your business thriving, you want to be awake and have the energy to enjoy it, don’t you?
#4. Eat The Right Stuff
Not all food is created equal. Sure, that fast food is quick and easy to grab, but how is it ultimately contributing to your health and life?
Figuring out what foods and meal plans work best for you is a journey of its own, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Your food choices directly impact your cognitive performance and can make or break your ability to handle all the demands of not only entrepreneurship, but life in general.
Start planning ahead and preparing meals and snacks that best contribute to your health. Focus on fresh, unprocessed foods and do your best not to depend on meats for sustenance every single meal. Get some good protein in for breakfast and try including more fruits and greens into your diet (doing so can actually increase focus and creativity). Listen to your body and don’t stuff yourself to the point of discomfort.
And, of course, drink lots and lots of water, at least half your bodyweight in ounces, more if you’re very active.
#5. Seek Human Interaction
Starting your own business and working from home doesn’t provide the same social setting as your day job might. Depending on the business, entrepreneurs rarely make direct contact with their customers or vendors. Loneliness creeps in a whole lot easier when you’re working for yourself and it’s been known to take a psychological toll on people. It’s also been known to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity.
Don’t let it creep up on you, take the initiative to get some face to face time with people: find a running or workout buddy, join some local entrepreneur meetup groups, work in a coffee shop a couple times a week, go out on some dates, etc.
#6. Get Outside
Nothing like some good ol’ fresh air to clear your lungs and your head. Entrepreneurship can come with an increased amount of time indoors. Since stale air has actually proven to decrease productivity levels, you should make it a point to get some fresh air and sunshine (vitamin D!) whenever possible.
With entrepreneurship often comes a lot more freedom for you to go and work wherever you want. Work outside on your patio or balcony or at a cafe or coffee shop with outdoor seating. Go for a walk around the block for a break or meditate out on your lawn and do some deep breathing (lots of ways to kill two birds with one stone!).
#7. Love Your Space
Since you’re going to be spending so much time in your work space, you may as well make sure it’s a space where you can feel comfortable, happy and focused. How you design your space can literally influence your happiness and how motivated you are while working.
Get a good chair, or if you’re more comfortable standing, get a standing desk. Even a touch of paint and some houseplants can change the whole atmosphere of your work space. Make it upbeat and make it yours, whatever that means for you. Dedicate your work space to be just for work, as this can also help keep your focus sharp.
#8. Treat Yourself
Starting a business is a ton of work – reward yourself! Celebrate the victories both big and small. Oftentimes you’re going to be the only one who knows about them.
Take yourself out on a date over the weekend or even pick up your favorite snack on the way home. Go out to your favorite restaurant. Come up with some rewards that go beyond food – maybe schedule a massage, or a nice hair appointment, or take a trip to your favorite store, or bring yourself home some flowers.
Also be mindful of holidays – a lot of people like to work through them to “get ahead,” but take holidays as an opportunity to relax and have a break, spend some extra time with your family and eat a good meal. Without occasional breaks or vacations, day to day life can run together and feel a bit monotonous. Taking breaks and treating yourself help keep things interesting and also keep your motivation high.
#9. Check In With Mental Health
There’s research that suggests that entrepreneurs tend to have character traits that can make them more vulnerable or prone to mood swings, depression, loss of motivation, etc.
Be sure to stay in tune with yourself and how you’re feeling. Keep your relationships strong, follow good self care practices and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support whenever you need it. Share your successes and failures with others and let yourself process your emotions however works best for you – talking, journaling, painting, screaming, etc. There’s no need to fight these battles alone. If you feel the need, consult a professional for further support.
As simple as it may seem, self care really does play an important role in your life and in this case, your entrepreneurship journey. It sets you up for success in your business and helps you be healthfully, physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to handle all the demands of a business that may come your way.
Invest in yourself now through self care and ultimately you will be investing in your business and your future.