(First published on Women Lawyers Mean Business website.)
Entrepreneurs excel at taking charge. That ‘I-got-this’ drive is what makes it possible for you to accomplish everything from running your company to putting out fires at home. But it’s that same mindset that can lead entrepreneurs to take on too much and inevitably burn out. Taking care of business is necessary but taking care of yourself is crucial. If you’re not well, nothing will be.
Why You Should Care About Self-Care
Think of self-care as preventative healthcare. Entrepreneurs need to stay at the top of their game. One way to do that is by being pro-active regarding your health and well-being.
Self-care begins by putting your well-being first. This can feel strange or even wrong to some who believe in the value of self-sacrifice. Yet, the expression, ‘You can’t draw water from an empty well’ holds true here.
Self-care helps you to keep the coffers full so that you can do, give, and be all that you want.
The Best Self-Care Is Free
Luxury or pampering often comes to mind when we speak of self-care. A spa-day is definitely a great self-care treat. However, you will find that the best self-care comes without a cost.
Here are 9 self-care habits for entrepreneurs that won’t break the bank:
1. Meditate – Meditation involves sitting in silence. It can be for as little as 10 minutes. Simply sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with your spine straight and eyes closed. The object isn’t to silence the mind. That is impossible. Rather, what you want to do is give the mind something to focus on like your breath or an affirmation. These quiet moments to yourself serve to refresh your mind, improve productivity, and decrease stress.
2. Get Some Sleep – Ariana Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, had a huge “A-ha” moment when she found her health imperiled by exhaustion and lack of sleep. Without proper sleep, our bodies and brains can’t recuperate fully.
3. Have a Sleep Regimen – Give yourself a window of an hour or two before bed to start winding down. Take a hot bath or shower. Simply washing your feet and massaging them with your favorite lotion or body oil does wonders to prepare the body for sleep.
4. Move Your Body – Exercise, do yoga or simply dance. Exercise relieves stress, improves circulation, helps manage weight, and makes you feel good. Sitting at a desk all day makes movement vitally important for your health.
5. Eat Well – Watch out for stress eating. When we do this, we tend to eat what’s quickest which usually means processed foods high in salt, fat, and sugar. Instead, prepare fresh fruits and veggie snacks to have at hand. For dinner, prepare whole foods and make enough for a healthy lunch the next day.
6. Take a Tech-Fast – Unplug from your devices and read a book, go for a walk and take in the sunset, or just find a comfy spot and do nothing. Being constantly connected wreaks havoc on our nerves and keeps us feeling wired.
7. Make Contact – A major indicator of wellbeing is social connection. Prioritize your social life by spending time with family and friends. You will be improving your overall happiness and staving off the isolation that entrepreneurs often deal with.
8. Set Healthy Boundaries – Saying yes to new commitments may feel like the right thing to do. Until you find yourself overcommitted and spread thin. “When you’re exhausted, you aren’t going to run your business at its best,” wrote author Adelaide Lancaster. Learn to say, ‘No’ to things that are not the best use of your time or energy.
9. Get A Support Network – This one is going to cost. But the investment in your health, wealth, and wellbeing will be worth it.
a) Get a trained therapist/counselor – Being an entrepreneur is stressful and sometimes you need someone in your corner to help you cope when times get tough.
b) Get a massage therapist – On those days when your shoulders are at your ears, you will be glad to have the number of a good massage therapist in your contacts.
c) Get a financial planner – Or invest in books on financial planning. Financial peace of mind starts simply with creating a budget, paying off debt, and planning for the future.
d) Get meal prep delivery – If you’re too taxed to shop and meal plan, you’ll be glad to come home to your weekly delivery of delicious meals.
e) Get a virtual assistant – Delegate the tasks outside your zone of genius to someone who can accomplish the work with skill and ease. Fiverr, TaskRabbit, UpWork, and LinkedIn are great resources for finding short-term contractors who may become long-term team members if it feels like the right fit.
Self-care begins with the understanding that, as an entrepreneur, YOU are the most crucial piece of the puzzle for your business. All the other pieces fall into place around you when you are at your best.