Life Balance: 4 Ways to Take Care of Yourself While You Run Your Business

Running your own company is beyond time-consuming, it can be downright draining. And taking care of yourself — tending to your own physical and emotional needs – is not a natural go-to tendency for small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

“We’re so busy trying to solve problems that we’re stuck in ‘doing mode’ — trying to get more and more done — when switching to ‘being mode’ may be just the break we need,” writes Barbara Markway, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.

Self-care doesn’t come naturally when a person is stressed, she says, so it’s important to identify self-care activities and learn ways to start incorporating them into your busy schedule.

“Self-care has to become a habit,” Markway writes, “so that when we’re dealing with stress, we remember that, ‘Hey, I need to take care of myself in this situation.’” 

Important to Your Success

Small business owners and entrepreneurs often see working nonstop as a path to building resilience but studies show that taking time for self-care is vital to your business success.

“We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be,” write Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, and Michelle Gielan, former CBS News anchor and author of Broadcasting Happiness, in the Harvard Business Review. “However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate.”

These 4 tips for self-care won’t come as big news to you but use them as reminders that tending to your well-being is crucial to your success as a leader and to your company.

Get Enough Sleep

With plenty of deadlines and seemingly not enough time to get it all done, many small business owners find it necessary to sacrifice sleep. Just don’t make it a habit, health experts say.

“Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules,” says the National Institutes of Health in a website article. However, research shows that a good night's sleep improves learning – and helps you pay attention and make better decisions.

“Sleep helps your brain work properly,” the NIH article says. “While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.”

Take Breaks

Amy Jen Su, author of The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day, recommends building restoration breaks into your workday. Schedule walking meetings or make a point of having lunch away from your desk.

And another part of self-care, she says, is keeping in touch with the most important people in your life. “Use breaks during the day, or perhaps your commute time, to call friends and loved ones, and carve out plenty of time outside of work to nurture relationships.”

Also, if you’re at a computer or on your tablet most of the day, don’t forget the 20/20/20 rule recommended by the American Optometric Association: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.

Eat Healthy

A balanced, healthy diet is not only important to your physical well-being; eating healthy will help you sustain your busy work schedule and be more effective in running your business.

“Feeding your body with good food is key for sustained energy levels, improved productivity and blood sugar regulation,” writes Dr. Christina Tarantola, a licensed pharmacist and health coach, in Pharmacy Times. “Without good nutrition, our bodies fall prey to illness, fatigue and low energy.”

You’re familiar with healthy foods – healthy choices from across all food groups while paying attention to calorie limits — it’s just a matter of finding the path to eat healthy.

One way is by planning — start packing snacks and/or lunch so it’s easy to grab something healthy while you’re working. Nutritionists recommend packing foods low in fat and high in fiber, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Protein will help boost your metabolism and high-fiber foods will decrease stress levels.

Eating healthy will also lower the level of hormones most commonly tied to triggering an increase in stress.

Make self-care a habit

Take time for self-care — make your emotional and physical health a priority, or your business will suffer. 

“Get grounded in the real world that is your stable, happy place,” writes Darrin Friedman, strategic brand specialist for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in Realtor magazine.

 “This serves to remind you why you do all the crazy stuff without actually being swept up in all the crazy stuff. If you make it a habit, you will be surprised by how effective and healing it can be.”

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