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While being an entrepreneur means building your dreams and having the freedom to work when and where you want, it doesn’t mean there are not challenges that come with it. The highs and lows that are common with entrepreneurs can bring on both mental and physical health problems including eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.
It doesn’t matter how great your business idea is; it won’t succeed if you have low physical and mental strength.
Here are my six power tips for ensuring you not only have a healthy business but a healthy life.
1) Eat Power Foods
With the pressure to succeed, perceived lack of time, and business travel being common for entrepreneurs, it’s easy to make poor dietary choices.
Almond butter is one of my favorite foods! It is filling, packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, it is a great source of vegetable protein! Apples are also one of the healthy power foods I enjoy the most. They are filled with fiber and Vitamin C. I love their natural sweetness, which helps prevent cravings for sugary drinks that are so common these days.
2) Avoid Screens at Bedtime
For a large percentage of entrepreneurs working 50-70 hours a week (some even more, yikes!), there’s not much time left over in the day to get a good night’s rest. Most sleep experts recommend a healthy 6 to 8 hours of blissful sleep every day. Let’s face it, though: most entrepreneurs I know are getting more like 4 to 6 hours. The high stress and stringent travel can also contribute to insomnia.
All of the research out there shows that many entrepreneurs work on their devices up until the point the exact moment they fall asleep sleep. This sends them to bed with thoughts of deadlines, projects, client emails, and the problems they need to fix in their business. Sounds stressful just thinking about it, am I right?
Instead of responding to one more client email before getting into bed, try doing an activity that induces peaceful thoughts and mindfulness. Yoga and meditation will take your mind away from the stress of your day and restore a thought pattern within your brain that is relaxing and calming. The quality of your sleep will improve because you will be relaxed at bedtime rather than feeling tense because you fell asleep with your device in your hand in the middle of sending an email. Come on! Admit it, I know you’re out there.
3) Mix Business and Pleasure to Help Avoid Social Isolationism
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely world, especially in the solopreneur stages when you’re just starting out. And, often, startups have a remote work culture where their employees work from home. People who work in a traditional office space get the social interaction of working with others daily and then going to work functions outside of office hours.
As an entrepreneur, I get it: you feel like you have to work all the time in order to make sure your business is a success. However, there are ways you can be social and feel like you are being productive toward building your business at the same time. Here are some examples:
- Find something in common with your clients that you both like to do and start inviting them to do it. Golfers have mastered this. But many people don’t play golf, so whether it’s going for a hike, playing basketball, eating Italian food, or going fishing, try making some time to be social with your clients. Today’s business world is about relationships. If you take the time to get to know your clients beyond email and phone calls, you will build rapport and your clients will stay with you longer. You will also find yourself out doing more of the things you like to do outside of the office, which will lower your feelings of isolationism. A big part of being an entrepreneur is finding ways to work smarter, not harder, am I right?
- Join local networking groups for entrepreneurs and business owners in your area and be active in them. A great way to find entrepreneur groups in your area is through meetup.com. You can join and find a group within minutes of signing up.
- Attend a conference in your field to immerse yourself in a group of like-minded people who are on a similar mission. Conferences are not only for keeping your knowledge current on the latest trends in your industry, but they are highly social with after-hour events that can go on well into the night. There, you will find yourself in a social setting with some of the top movers and shakers in your industry. These are people you’re unlikely to meet by bumping into them at the grocery store or by stopping by the local bar for a drink after work. So, take advantage of these unique work and play environment conferences provide a few times a year.
4) Exercise Regularly to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
A 2015 study by a clinical professor at UCSF, Dr. Michael Freeman, revealed that 49% of the entrepreneurs of the more than 240 he surveyed reported having a mental health condition, with 27% of survey respondents indicating issues with anxiety.
Research also shows that there is nothing better for reducing stress and anxiety than regular exercise. If we allow our bodies to get weak, our minds will soon follow. Don’t just look at exercise as the way to get those six-pack abs; consider that it is also critical to maintaining good mental health.
So, my advice is to find a form of exercise you like to do and then find a buddy or two to do it with it. Exercising is much more fun when it is also a bit social.
5) Be Mindful of the Health of the Relationship With Your Partner
It’s so important that we take the time to connect with our partners on a daily basis. The entrepreneurial lifestyle does not always lend itself well to maintaining healthy relationships with those we care about. The stress and anxiety that entrepreneurs face regularly can lead to a host of relationship problems, both sexual and non-sexual. They can also have the opposite effect, leading people to disconnect from their partners and have inappropriate or unsafe sexual relationships.
Most entrepreneurs will say that they put in the long hours and deal with the stress that comes along with owning a business because they want to provide a better life for their loved ones. However, many end up neglecting their relationships by spending too much their time providing financially instead of nurturing the relationships with their partners and loved ones.
6) Get Outside
Do you ever start to feel trapped by the walls of your office or cubicle? You’re not alone. Since entrepreneurs tend to work so much, they end up spending a disproportionate amount of time indoors. Doctors will tell you that the health benefits of getting outdoors regularly include reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, and better performing immune systems. Staying in your office all day and then going home only to wake the next day to go back to the office day after day is unhealthy. Even if you can’t escape the office for a hike, try grabbing your laptop and working outside for a while on nice days.
Guest Author: Kendra Lust, Founder of Society15 and Co-Founder of Entice