How to Practice Self-Care as an Entrepreneur (And Why It Matters)
As an entrepreneur, you are juggling a thousand and one things at once and it's easy to fall into a cycle of working around the clock. Even if you love what you're building, working long and often stressful days can lead to burnout.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that can lead you to feel physically and emotionally exhausted, dispassionate, and self-critical. Burnout doesn't happen overnight, it accumulates over time, and impairs personal and professional performance. An Anxiety and Depression Association of America survey found that 56% of people said stress and anxiety affects their workplace performance and more than 75% say it also affects their personal life. The survey showed that the primary causes of work stress were deadlines, interpersonal relationships, staff management, and dealing with problems that come up.
These work stressors are all paramount when you're an entrepreneur and the stakes are even higher because you are ultimately responsible for the success of your business.
Burnout has a negative impact on your emotional and physical health but, luckily, you can fight burnout with self-care. Use these tips to incorporate self-care into your routine to feel better, perform better, and have a more successful business!
Discover What Works for You and Find Time For It
Spend time trying different self-care practices like yoga, running, hiking, meditation, going for a walk, reading, or even binge-watching your favorite television show. What works for your best friend or your co-founder might not work as well for you. Look for activities that help you feel refreshed, calmer, and more capable of tackling what you need to for your business.
Once you've identified your favorite self-care activities, schedule them into your week. One of the most common excuses for avoiding self-care is "not having time" and, while you might not be able to spend the entire day relaxing, you can carve some time into your schedule. (Seriously!) Even if you can't find a large chunk of time in your day, look for little pockets of time that you can use to relax (instead of checking your email). Instead of meeting with your CTO at the office, have a walking meeting in the park. Read a book or listen to an audiobook on your commute. Try a five minute meditation between meetings. These small moments of self-care can work wonders.
Take Time to Unplug
It may seem paradoxical, but taking breaks can make you more productive. Step away from your overflowing email inbox. It can be tricky to have work-life balance as an entrepreneur, so start by setting small boundaries, like not checking your email after midnight, not having your phone out during meals, or leaving your phone in your locker when you're working out.
You should also aim to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation causes some nightmarish health problems like difficulty paying attention, experiencing mood changes, and developing a weakened immune system. To do your best in growing your business, you have to be at your best, and this is an easy first step towards that.
Take Care of Your Basic Needs
Even if you eat a "sad desk lunch" (okay and sometimes a "sad desk breakfast" and "sad desk dinner") you can make it a healthy meal! Research shows that what you eat affects your productivity. A study by British Journal of Health Psychology found that eating fruits and vegetables helps people to feel happier, more creative, and more motivated.
Upping your water intake is also a super easy self-care move. Dehydration can lead to health problems, including increased stress. Bring a water bottle to all of your meetings and fill it up in the minutes between meetings!
Self-care isn't selfish. In fact, it will help you feel better so you can more effectively help others—and build a stronger business.