Being an entrepreneur is a dream for tons of people. However, this dream can easily crash down around you. The reality is that being an entrepreneur is incredibly stressful: they’re twice as likely to develop depression, which is “the leading disability worldwide, and people die of it every day.”
Even if depression isn’t an issue for you as an entrepreneur, stress absolutely will be. If stress plagues your life and you have no way to wind down, you might suffer the effects of chronic stress.
Prolonged exposure to chronic stress can lead to memory loss, anxiety, irritability, substance abuse, social withdrawal, weight gain, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.
That’s heavy stuff. As Shopify says, “Entrepreneurship can be a grisly, volatile mess of toxic ingredients on the verge of combustion, threatening to consume your health, relationships, and life.”
However, if you’re determined, you can learn to manage this stress by prioritizing your health.
Getting healthy will be a huge part of your success as an entrepreneur. Even though we live in a relentless work culture, ignoring your health will have short-term and long-term repercussions.
Here are 4 ways to prioritize your health as an entrepreneur.
Hit the Gym
You definitely have a lot on your plate, and adding another task like working out can feel impossible.
However, you need to make it happen if you want to succeed in the long term. Going to the gym will improve your health in the day to day and in the long term.
SmallBizClub points out, “Working out releases endorphins and improves the quality of your sleep. You get two benefits from one action.” Working out also improves reliability, creativity, and problem-solving skills. All of these traits are crucial for entrepreneurs.
80.2 million people, aged six and older, are physically inactive, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Don’t let yourself be one of them! Banish stress and enjoy lasting benefits from physical fitness.
Fuel Your Body With Healthy Food
Eating better will also fuel your productivity. We all know it’s easiest to reach for caffeinated drinks and comfort food when the stress hits, but this is counterproductive. High-fat foods thicken your blood and make you tired and sluggish, while caffeine stays in your system and increases anxiety and panic disorders.
Try to lessen your caffeine intake to one cup per day, and make sure you’re eating lots of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. By taking care of your body first, you make sure that there are no avoidable, external factors causing you stress.
Also, make sure to step away from work while eating. Eating at your desk increases long-term health risks, hurts your joints, and increases that ever-present stress, according to Rise.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Physical health is crucial, but you can’t ignore your emotional and mental needs as well. One of the reasons being an entrepreneur is so stressful is the pressure to succeed at all costs. If you’re not working 80-hour weeks, grinding nonstop, and doing it all on your own, some people might say you’re slacking off or don’t really care about your business.
This is a lie. Working so hard will lead to an inevitable burnout, which is bad for your health, your business, and your quality of life. Don’t believe all the hype around startup culture. You absolutely need to make yourself a priority.
This means asking for help when you’re overwhelmed. Hopefully, you have a high-functioning team you can rely on, so make sure to delegate tasks. Outsourcing is also a great option for entrepreneurs since you and your team need to focus on the tasks at hand.
You need to remember that you can’t do it all on your own.
This also applies when it comes to handling stress! Don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system if you’re going through a challenging time. Talking issues through with a business mentor is a great way to get some perspective.
Don’t let stress isolate you. The strongest leaders and workers are those who can recognize their own weaknesses and graciously ask for any help they need.
Get Enough Sleep
Finally, getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. In his book ‘Lost Connections’, author Johann Hair reports that improving sleep habits can be three times as effective for elevating depression as taking medication. It’s clear sleep is crucial to your overall health, so why do we ignore it so often? The answer is that the nature of startup culture is unfortunately geared toward working past the point of exhaustion.
Lack of sleep is often treated as an achievement.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Lack of sleep affects cognitive function, decision making, and your ability to fight off infections. If you’re constantly getting sick and having a hard time focusing, your business will naturally suffer. Don’t fall into the “rise and grind” mentality. You need at least 7 hours of sleep to perform at peak efficiency.
Move Forward With Better Health
You only get one life. Don’t waste it by suffering from extreme stress to pursue your dreams. Working towards your career and company goals can be a difficult but rewarding process instead of a slog.
Honor yourself and your business by prioritizing your health. Your body and body of work will thank you in the long run. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.