Self-Care Is Essential For Busy Entrepreneurs
Self-care is getting a lot of attention right now, and for good reason — most of us are really bad at it.
Whether it’s skimping on sleep, eating fast food at every meal, foregoing exercise to keep working or simply not scheduling in much needed downtime, we’re not taking very good care of ourselves. Living this kind of fast paced lifestyle for too long can lead to burn-out, depression, anxiety and other physical health issues like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
It goes without saying that this is not a situation you want to find yourself in.
While the term ‘self-care’ often brings of visions of trips to the spa and long walks on a secluded beach, practical self-care is a lot more accessible and can be easily integrated into your daily routine. In fact, creating a sustainable self-care plan that you actually follow will prevent exhaustion and overwhelm from happening in the first place.
Self-care will also make you more productive because you’re able to show up everyday and perform at your best - rather than relying on grit and too much coffee.
To help you get started, here are the five key things that I prioritize as part of my self-care plan. They might not work for you as well as they do for me, but use these as inspiration and adjust accordingly.
Sleep - There’s so much research and evidence that consistently shows we need 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night that it’s hard to ignore. I’m guilty of always trying to push the time I turn out the lights later and later because there aren’t other demands on my time and I can sit mindlessly in front of the TV. That said I also know that if I don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, my mood falls apart and I start to make bad decisions. As a result I prioritize sleep over most other activities. It may not be exciting, but it sure is effective.
Exercise - Many of us, me included, spend so much time sitting at a desk each day it’s practically like we’re training for an Olympic sport. This lack of activity isn’t great for our bodies or our minds and can hinder creativity, focus and productivity. I integrate regular exercise into my morning routine and try to get outside for a 10 minute walk at lunch every day. Something as simple as a walk around the block can clear your head, boost your mood, and actually jump start your creativity. Research shows that we do some of our best and most creative thinking while walking.
Food Choices - When you’ve missed breakfast and are running on fumes, usually the easiest thing to grab is a coffee and a muffin on your commute. Despite eating you might find yourself hungry within an hour and reaching for something sugary to give you an extra boost to make it to lunch. Simple carbs and caffeine are two of the worst culprits for zapping your energy because of the effect they have on your blood sugar levels. Try to start the day with a meal that consists of protein, fat and fibre (like a 3 egg omelette with veggies or something similar) as it will fill you up and sustain your energy. When evaluating your food options throughout the day, make protein and fat your friends and try to avoid overly processed carbs like muffins, candy, loaves and donuts. Try stay away from soda and stick to drinking plenty of water. Water is crucial for me - dehydration leads to headaches and munching on sugary snacks.
Mindfulness - It took me over seven years to finally establish and cultivate a mindfulness practice that I can sustain - and I’m so glad I stuck with it. The benefits of mindfulness and cultivating awareness of your thoughts are life changing. It has allowed me to move through some of the unhelpful thought patterns that I’d been stuck in for years and I’m now able to see my thoughts and simply thoughts - not things that require my attention or that are deserving of an emotional reaction. Being present in my life and enjoying each moment as it happens, instead of always longing for the future when things will be ‘better’ is one of the greatest gifts.
Reading - Before I turn off the lights at night, I always make time to read for at least ten minutes. A former mentor made the suggestion almost a decade ago and I now live by it. Not only is this a great way to finish a book each month, it also helps to slow your brain down and empty it of any racing thoughts or distractions from the day. Reading before bed can also reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, which can help increase those total hours that you’re getting each night. Again, not exciting, but it works!
Get creative with your own self-care routine and decide what works best for you and your lifestyle. Finding true, genuine balance where you’re looking after your physical and mental health is the best way - in fact I would argue the only way - that you can consistently put your best self forward. To be the creative, successful entrepreneur or business owner that you want to be, take care of yourself first.
Your adventure is a marathon, not a sprint!
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