You’ve no doubt heard it before: Health is wealth. Ask any woman business owner who has faced a health struggle—whether it’s a serious disease diagnosis or extreme stress and exhaustion from long hours and travel—and she’ll tell you it’s difficult, sometimes impossible, to run a successful business when you’re not feeling and operating at your best.
Taking care of yourself is similar to caring for your home. You clean it regularly, repair things that are broken and make upgrades when you can so that you can enjoy it for years to come. Or like you care for your car. You wash it, change the oil, fill up the gas tank and rotate the tires. Self-care is the same: It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity to keep YOU running smoothly physically, mentally and spiritually.
In fact, studies consistently show a link between good physical health (healthy diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, etc.), good mental health (decreased depression and stress) and increased productivity and creativity—both things are needed to start and grow a strong business.
In a recent Shopify blog, the woman entrepreneur who penned it wrote, “I realized how easy it is, in the thick of nurturing a business, to forget to nurture yourself.” She points out that self-care isn’t indulgent like some women believe. It’s not all manis, pedis and mimosas (though it can be at times!). Some easy ways to nurture yourself include:
- Taking time to breathe: There are proven benefits to controlled and mindful breathing, including staving off stress. Where shallow breathing contributes to anxiety, full abdominal breaths help to slow the heart and stabilize blood pressure.
- Minimizing stress through exercise: The average adult should get 150 minutes of exercise per week. It sounds like a lot when you’re already tapped out, but break it up into small 10-20 minute chunks throughout your workweek.
- Sleeping more and better: Sleep deprivation contributes to reduced decision making ability and stunts creativity. You might get more done by burning the midnight oil, but at what cost? Aim for a solid eight hours nightly.
- Eating the right stuff: Your food choices have a direct impact on cognitive performance, so choose wisely. High-fat foods make our digestive systems work overtime, reducing oxygen in the brain and sapping our energy.
- Seeking human interaction: Loneliness can take a psychological toll, and even contribute to physical health problems. Take a proactive approach to getting face-time with other humans.
- Getting outside: Since too much stale air can actually decrease productivity, take in some sunshine and vitamin D by working at times from a balcony or patio of a local café.
- Loving your space: Your workspace is a place where you spend the majority of your waking hours. Be mindful of how you design it—it can impact your happiness and motivation.
- Treating yourself: Allow yourself to be rewarded for your hard work, whether it’s a weekend away or something as simple as your favorite take-out. There may be no one else around to celebrate your small victories but you.
- Checking in with mental health: Researchers suggest entrepreneurs tend to have character traits that make them more vulnerable to mood swings, depression and loss of motivation. Check in with yourself often, maintain healthy relationships and engage in self-care.
I’ve already put a few of these suggestions to work in my own life for 2020. I hope you’ll join me and prioritize taking care of yourself at the top of your own to-do list! At NAWBO, there’s nothing we love more than hearing a business success story. Just remember that your success story starts with YOU and your health.