We all know that it can be difficult to work for yourself and that stress and burnout are real concerns. As an entrepreneur, you often have to deal with unusual working hours, time pressures, risk of failure constantly looming, irregular money coming in, and limited social interaction.
“The Western workplace culture — exported to many other parts of the world — is practically fueled by stress, sleep deprivation, and burnout. This is profoundly — and negatively — affecting our creativity, our productivity, and our decision making: the very things entrepreneurs need in order to succeed.” Arianna Huffington (source)
The number of new small business owners and entrepreneurs is rising every day, and prioritizing your self care is an integral part of success. Self care is any activity that you do voluntarily which helps you maintain your physical, mental or emotional health. It can help you feel healthy, relaxed and ready to take on your work and responsibilities. Sounds like something we all need, right? But I wonder how many of you are engaging in enough self care to balance out the incredible stress that comes from running your own business.
How Self-Care Helps the Entrepreneur
In our culture, we tend to celebrate the ‘hustle’ and reward those who don’t have the time to sleep and who are too busy building their empire to rest and relax. This is SO unhealthy and creates an expectation that people simply cannot meet. It results in burnout, stress, health problems and poor mental health. Self care can help the entrepreneur in many ways:
It reduces stress levels.
Stress is a normal physical and emotional response to a threatening or overwhelming task/situation, but can have major consequences if not managed properly. Especially as an entrepreneur, stress is going to play a role in your life, so learning how to deal with it is very important. Self care works to activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing cortisol and adrenalin levels in your body, which helps to reduce stress!
It improves clarity and creativity.
A calm mind is a clear mind, which allows for more creativity and inspiration to hit. If you are overwhelmed and trying to multitask, doing a million things at once, you aren’t in the best mindset to be creative, organized, and successful in your goals.
It boosts productivity.
So much research supports the idea that taking breaks and practicing self care actually improves productivity. Even when you are super busy, 10 minutes away from your computer to practice some breathing, stretches, meditations, or go for a walk can do wonders!
It improves mental health.
One of the biggest contributions to mental health problems is stress. The psychological, emotional, and physical effects of prolonged and severe stress can be concerning, so taking the time to prioritize your self care is vital.
How can I add more self care to my routine?
Schedule it in
If it is scheduled in, it is mentally so much easier to complete. Whether it is exercise, a work deadline, or your to-do list, anything in life that is scheduled in is more likely to be completed. So, do the same with your self care activities! The people who are really successful at this are experts in scheduling self care as they would any other appointments. They have little breaks of self care during the day. 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, a 15 minute tea break, 20 minutes of reading before bed etc.
Don't wait until you have the time to engage in self care. Let's face it, not many of us suddenly have lots of time to indulge in looking after ourselves, so make it a regular part of your routine.
Make a list of favorite activities
Don’t wait around to be inspired — plan for success by having a list of your favorite self care activities on hand. Write your suggestions in your planner, stick a list on the fridge, include them in your weekly diary. My advice is to always have a few short, medium, and long activities, which you can choose depending on how long you have that day.
- Short (10 minutes) self care ideas include: a cup of tea, some stretches, listening to a mini mindfulness exercise.
- Medium (30 minutes) self care ideas include: a relaxing bath, short walk, painting your nails.
- Long (30 minutes +) self care ideas include: getting a massage, coffee with friends, long meditation, taking a nap.
Start the day right
The alarm goes off in the morning, you roll over and…check your phone? A lot of us are guilty of this one, but perhaps consider using your phone for a positive purpose in the morning. Make yourself a rule that you can’t check social media until you have done your 10 minutes of meditation. Or perhaps your list of 5 things you are grateful for, or 5 minutes of deep breathing and stretching. I have a list of 50+ resources and apps for self care on my website. That’s a whole lot of ways to use your phone for a good start to the day!
Create your Absolute No list
In today's world, we seem to be getting used to the addiction of 'busyness', to the point where it is often a source of pride for people.
"It’s all about the hustle, who needs sleep?!”
Sound familiar? But rather than wishing for more time, overburdening yourself with tasks, and stressing yourself out, consider creating your 'Absolute No' list and start saying no more often.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Warren Buffett (source)
So each week when you sit down to set goals and write your to-do list, I encourage you to also write out a list of things you will NOT do this week. Don’t check your email after a certain time, have no-tech days, don’t say yes to every opportunity, and say no to things that drain you.
Allow for one bigger self care activity a week
Usually, self care activities are peppered throughout the day, allowing for mental, emotional, and physical stress release. But it is also important to allow for one BIGGER self care indulgence each week. This is about prioritizing yourself, your worth, and your needs. It may be getting your nails done, getting a massage, going for a big hike, lunch with friends, an afternoon off work, social media time-out — whatever you need.
And that’s it! I hope that this helped. Remember: a healthy, calm, coping business owner is much better than a stressed out one! Prioritize yourself and reap the benefits :)