I have been an entrepreneur for about six years now, and if there is one thing that tremendously helped me advance in my career, it’s self-care. I think of my mind and body as the fuel and vehicle to my career performance. Without proper self-care, I don’t think I’d be able to accomplish a lot for myself and nurture my coaching clients.
Sadly, a lot of entrepreneurs and self-employed people don’t prioritize self-care because they think all of their time should be spent focusing on closing deals and doing business. Business owners work twice as much as employees as the survey by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reveals that they log in more than 60 hours a week.
Busy People Forget Self-Care
There are many perks to being your own boss, but one of the downsides is self-care is often the first to go when business is busy and time is always running short. It’s easy to miss having meals, gym sessions, or just a relaxed weekend when you are pressured to perform and deliver nonstop.
Working through the night and getting digitally-preoccupied can quickly become a habit, which can make you lose sleep. You’d drink coffee first thing in the morning to get your caffeine fix, and the moment you feel tired, you’d reach out for more coffee. It creates an unhealthy cycle of staying up late and waking up tired, boosting your energy throughout the day with whatever means you have, and trying to be as productive as you can while in reality, you are just in an endless wheel of working, getting overstimulated, and ruining your health in the long run.
Busy people are so focused on getting more things done, that they’ve become less attuned to body cues telling them to rest. Unfortunately, the long hours strategy backfires because it actually decreases productivity and makes you more likely to make mistakes. Worse, it increases your risk for several health problems that you’d end up missing work and spending more on healthcare.
How to End the Cycle of Neglecting Self-Care
Most of our destructive habits are automatic behaviors. We do them without thinking. The first step to break the cycle of neglecting self-care is awareness. Be aware of your boundaries, or your lack of them. Know yourself and recognize signs of getting overwhelmed.
A change in belief is what will make you act differently. Many feel guilty about taking care of themselves. Limiting beliefs prevent you from taking good care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It may sound like this:
“Work should come first. I need to work hard to make money, so I can, at some point, focus on my health and wellbeing.”
“What’s a few more hours of working at night so I can get more done? I would have better chances of succeeding if I work overtime and on weekends.”
Turn this limiting belief into an empowering one. Here’s how your new belief should sound like:
“I should set boundaries and take care of my health, so I can optimize my performance and increase my chances for success.”
“I need to put myself first so I can better help others.”
5 Ways to Do Self-Care as an Entrepreneur
- Master your weekly schedule
Take a moment to create your weekly schedule and include in it your work hours, meetings, social time, and self-care practices. Compartmentalize your productive hours and include breaks. There will be some unexpected changes. Add time for those too.
But most importantly, set your “me” time and guard it. Setting your weekly schedule also allows you to set realistic limits. These limits will ensure that your personal and work life don’t get mixed together.
- Start your day on the right foot
Wake-up early and start your day with a good prolonged morning routine where you should include stretching, learning something through an audiobook or a podcast, meditating, and journaling. Your morning routine should be between 30 and 45min. A good book about the importance of morning routines is The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
- Do intermittent fasting
Fasting is generally great for your body and your mind. Skipping breakfast can allow you to feel lighter and more focused on the work that you have to do. This, in return, will make you more productive and get that satisfaction from ticking boxes from your todo list and therefore have time for your self-care practice and going to the gym.
Have a break to exercise during the early hours of the day. Join a group class, lift weights, or do yoga. It doesn’t have to be outside. If you are working from home and think you will lose time commuting, then create a home fitness station and do bodyweight exercises. No excuses.
- Finish work early
Most of the time, it’s in our head that things can go wrong if we stop or slow down a bit. That pressure we feel is often self-induced. Leave work deliberately early to relax and slow down. Relaxing means doing something that you enjoy. I like surfing, going to the sauna and ice bath and watching sunsets. Identify a couple of activities that you like and do them or find new interests and explore them.
Finishing work early also means learning to say no to some things that take away time and energy. Be empowered to say no to matters that can wait.
- Go out and spend time in nature
Being in nature has been repeatedly reported to help reduce stress and increase positive feelings. Dr. Jason Strauss of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance recommends spending 20 to 30 minutes three days a week in nature to get its positive effects on well-being. You can combine exercise with outings.
A stress-free life is not our goal here. The key is to find a balance between rest and stress. The right equation is, rest + stress = growth.
- Master your mindset
- Work your schedule
- Do morning routines
- Eat well
- Finish work early
- Spend time in nature