The sound of a cough is a jarring noise for anyone with a productive streak. Your immediate thought is “I need to get out of here, ASAP,” but you often can’t leave!
When I’m in the office in Boston during the winter months, sickness is all around me at all times. Overworked and overstressed individuals are always the first ones to fall ill, and if you’re like me and surrounded by entrepreneurs, you notice how quickly people can succumb to the elements when they are working like dogs.
Sickness isn’t the only impediment to success, however, as you may simply run out of mental steam if you push the envelope too far. Even the hardest workers need to relax and rejuvenate their mind in order to be as effective as possible.
But of course, being an entrepreneur, taking an untimely vacation or staying home sick could tank your business. The key is to find the right balance. If you can manage stress and remain healthy, both physically and mentally, you will be able to work efficiently from sunup to sundown all year round. Here are five tips to keep you healthy and sane, and in top entrepreneurial shape:
1. Drink Water. Lots of it.
Working in a sedentary manner is one of the quickest ways to destroy your body and dull your mind. What’s the best way to avoid this? Water. Drink lots and lots of water.
Consuming a lot of water (try to get a cup/glass every hour) is not only extremely good for you if you’re sleep-deprived and dehydrated, but also a great way for you to naturally and subconsciously get up from your desk habitually. Sure, you will have to frequent the bathroom, but getting out of your chair often is a way to save your eyes, your back, and a number of other body parts.
2. Stretch Your Body, Not Your Eyes
Speaking of your eyes, experts say you should try to focus on a distant object other than your computer for at least 15 seconds once every hour and significantly increase the size of the text you read (if you’re using Microsoft Word, put the percentage at 140% or higher) to avoid vision damage and eye strain.
Whenever you get up, stretch out your body as much as possible – posture experts say that frequently shifting positions is one of the best ways to mitigate some of the damage we do to our bodies by constantly sitting. By maintaining “good” posture (I use quotes because it’s nearly impossible to do so) you may be able to limit the incidence of back, shoulder, arm, and neck pain, as well as headaches. If you have time, go one step further and take a walk outside and get some fresh air – vitamin D and clean, unfiltered air will also do wonders for your body.
3. Eat Healthy, But Enjoyable Meals
Other vitamins are surely going to do wonders for your body. Eating healthy is difficult on budget and with limited time, but it’s not impossible. Try to eat a fruit-based breakfast, coupled with some basic exercise, and then do your best from there. While it’s important to be healthy, you want to look forward to meals, not despise them! If you’re going to eat healthy for lunch, at least go out and get the food and bring some enjoyment to your salad! Tupperware is fine once in a while, but not every day!
If you’re trying to save money, lack time, and have no one to cook for you, but still want to have a healthy dinner, try a service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh! These are the perfect type of entrepreneurial service, as it’s unique and healthy meals delivered to your door.
4. Exercise, But Don’t Overdo it!
Your diet can also vary based on the amount of exercise that you perform – if you’re running and working out every day, you don’t have to eat salads for every meal! And you don’t have to go overboard on this one! Researchers from Harvard University and the National Cancer Institute found that working out moderately – this could simply be walking – for an hour a day is enough to stave off a premature death.
You don’t have to be the next gym rat, as working out too frequently or without ramping up slowly will lead to injury or excessive dehydration. Personal trainers set long-term goals that aren’t overly ambitious, and there’s a reason for this. You want to build muscle mass and endurance over time, as this is the natural way to a healthy and durable body.
If it’s tough for you to get out there alone and you need some motivation, try joining a team or exercise club. There are plenty of weekend sports leagues or running/cycling/swimming clubs in most big cities and towns. Maybe even go one step further and convince some of your coworkers to join you! As a leader, it would be great to set an example for your employees.
5. Work Out… Your Brain
While many hard-working entrepreneurs take care of their bodies, many forget the most important muscle of all: the brain! All of the aforementioned body-related tips can also help your head, but you need to take some time out of your schedule and really relax the true backbone of your business.
First, try to go out and enjoy yourself at least once a week. Find a coworker or other entrepreneurs who have the same interests as you and explore your town a little bit! You don’t want to go overboard and ruin the next work day, but you should be able to let loose every once in a while. No one wants to work for that tightly wound boss, and your employees can definitely notice if you’re not getting any enjoyment out of life.
Speaking of tightly wound, try something like yoga or Pilates to stretch both your body and mind. People have been destressing this way for thousands of years, so why not give it a shot!
While you’re at work, try to take some enjoyment breaks. If someone sent you a funny video, just watch it! Obviously, stay busy when you need to be, but watching a two-minute video after you sit down post-lunch isn’t going to negatively impact anything. The brain doesn’t do well with long periods of heightened focus without some breaks, so make sure you lighten the load once in a while. If you want to stay productive, just try to do some brainstorming or a lighter mental exercise in between periods of work, or better yet, completely remove yourself from the situation. Go for a quick, brisk walk. Put some music on and just let yourself relax for a bit.
If you don’t take care of your brain and your body, you, and likely your business, will come crashing down. Many entrepreneurs overwork themselves to the point of failure. This doesn’t have to be you! Sometimes you need to enjoy life in order to be successful, and any business isn’t worth it if you’re not well enough to reap the rewards of your hard work.