When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, the entrepreneur has an arch-nemesis. You’re probably thinking about it right now.
It’s lack of time.
We can write an article containing hundreds of health tips for entrepreneurs, but if you don’t have the time, they won’t do anyone much good!
We get it. The to-do list for your business is never ending, which can lead to non-stop thinking about work. When there is always something work-related to do, who can find time to live a healthy lifestyle?
And this isn’t an easy problem to solve, or it wouldn’t be cited so often as one of the most difficult parts of the entrepreneurial lifestyle!
When it comes to making time for what’s important (because YOU are important!) there are two main ways to succeed: delegation, and creating a healthier time management system.
A Healthier Time Management System
If you’re not a “list” person, you should be! Having a to do list—and one that’s all in one place, not on various sticky notes and notepads!—is truly a game changer. Once you have your to-do list written, it makes it easy to then schedule tasks out in a calendar and make sure everything is accounted for. If you don’t already have a calendar, planner, or somewhere else to visually organize your tasks, this is a great time to invest.
Of course, it’s important to schedule in things like meetings and email answering, but make sure to also schedule in meal planning and workout time. Never forget—you are more important than the business! We promise!
Add tasks to your schedule as soon as they come up, even if you think you’ll remember! Think back to your lectures in school, when you didn’t take any notes because you told yourself you’d remember what the professor said later. We’ve all been there. Schedule in even the little things—in fact, schedule in especially the little things. Business meetings, email checking, picking up the dry-cleaning, hair appointments.
When we don’t need to remember anything (because our planner does it for us), that takes off the stress and uncertainty of having little tasks to mentally keep track of.
Let’s move on to the health tips!
Our Top 10 Health Tips for Entrepreneurs
What are some specific ways entrepreneurs can stay healthy while building a new business from the ground up? This is a stressful time, for sure, and taking care of yourself is more important than ever. Here are 10 ways to do that!
1. Exercise is King
This is maybe the most important health tip we can give you.
Exercise is a big building block of health, and perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome if you want to start an exercise regimen as an entrepreneur is simply your mindset.
The problem with this is the fact that your mindset is what got you here – having a one track mind, totally focused on the business, is critical for success when you’re just starting out but makes it hard to focus on something like fitness, since at first glancheale it seems to take a lot of time away from work. Here’s why exercise can actually be helpful to your business!
- Uncertainty is often cited as one of the hardest parts of the entrepreneur’s life. When you are starting a business, decisions need to be made, and then you have to have confidence in those decisions, and then you have to make more decisions based on the outcome of those decisions! Everything is up in the air right now, but fitness can be wonderful for managing the stress that goes along with the lifestyle.
- Think of it as a time to rest the mind while the body works. As an entrepreneur, the chances are pretty good that most of your time is spend doing the opposite. Life is all about balance, and health issues—obesity, diabetes, and even depression—can develop if our minds are constantly overworked and our bodies underworked. When you are healthy, you’ll have more energy and resources to devote to your biz.
- Stuck in a rut in the ideas department? Think of your workouts as a time to clear your mind so new ideas can enter. Keep an idea journal in your gym bag—you might be surprised by what your mind comes up with during a long run or strength training session!
Find exercise you truly enjoy doing and the consistency will follow. Lots of people love yoga for its aligning and strengthening benefits. Others flock to trail running or hiking for the chance to be out in nature and reap the health benefits that go along with time spent surrounded by greenery. Try out a few and find what it is for you!
2. Take time to unplug from the biz
Now that you have your to-do list and schedule, block off at least a couple hours every day to be “work-free” hours. Give yourself permission not to think about work at all during this time and to pursue other hobbies or just relax.
3. Replace sugary drinks with water
Lots of work is done in front of a laptop these days, which can lead to some unexpected and unwanted weight gain if we’re not careful! One easy way to eliminate some under-the-radar calories is by replacing sugary drinks like sodas and Monsters with water.
If plain water is a little, well, plain for your taste, try infusing it with some fresh fruit and herbs! Try it with your favorite chopped fruit or one of these delicious combos from Culinary Hill:
- Strawberries, lemon, and basil
- Honeydew, cucumber, and mint
- Blueberry, lemon, and rosemary
- Pineapple, coconut, and lime
- Watermelon, kiwi, and lime
- Mango, raspberry, and ginger
4. Take advantage of mornings
Morning routines have gained a lot of popularity lately…for good reason! So many of us start our day with no real intentionality. We don’t seize the opportunity to set the tone for the day, fit in some healthy practices, and maybe even crank out a couple of to-do list items.
Not sure what to include in your morning routine? Try one or a few of these for the rest of the week:
- Wake up earlier- Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier every week—or 6 minutes earlier every day, if you’re more of a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of person. According to Huffington Post, many of the top CEOs are up and at ‘em by 7am every morning. This helps create more space to get things done, allows you to get a head start on the day, and—studies have shown—our willpower is at its highest in the early hours. Definitely something to take advantage of!
- Eat a healthy breakfast- Who can work on an empty stomach? Eating a healthy breakfast will jumpstart brain function, lift your energy levels, and help you stay fit without a lot of extra effort. Steer clear of “sugar bomb” breakfasts—they’re not doing you any favors in the long run.
- Get in a quick (or full) workout- Since our willpower is highest first thing in the morning, we might as well get our workout checked off our to-do list! A good habit to form is 20-30 minutes of exercise of varying intensity every day. It can be as simple as a walk around your neighborhood to get the ideas flowing for the work day ahead.
- Take time for a relaxing activity- This can be reading a book you’ve been trying to get through (or a book you’ve been meaning to start!) or the newspaper, journaling, meditation, or enjoying a hot cup of your favorite SUTRA as you plan your day.
- If you’re looking for more morning routine ideas, this article lays out what nine different CEOs do to start the day.
5. Spend time outside – 30 minutes to an hour – every day
Now that you’re waking up 30 minutes earlier this week, that creates a window of opportunity for some vitamin D! Spending time outside daily has lots of health benefits, including restored mental energy, stress relief, increased creativity, sharpened concentration, and even better vision (perfect for counteracting the eye strain that goes along with laptop time!).
6. Find your sleep schedule and stick to it
This one goes hand-in-hand with your newly established morning routine. If you’re going to bed late, you aren’t going to want to wake up early and get a jumpstart! Find the bedtime and wake up time that works best for you, and stick to it. People who do this tend to feel better-rested and less tired during the day.
7. Forgive yourself for “not getting enough work done” this week and take your weekend anyway.
The work-life balance is a hard thing to strike as an entrepreneur, but it’s worth striving for! Health is more than just physical—it’s also relational and mental. Make sure to take time to destress, decompress, and be with people you love on the weekends. This will keep burnout at bay and protect your relationships.
8. Manage stress
We’ve talked some about this throughout this article, but stress management is one of the most important parts of entrepreneur life—unfortunately, it’s also one that does not come naturally to most people. The uncertainty of launching a new business can be consuming if you let it. Here are some tried-and-true stress management techniques:
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This is as simple as intentionally tensing each muscle group in your body and then relaxing it. The thought process behind this is that muscle tension often accompanies anxiety, and releasing that tension can help release anxiety as well.
- Get your sweat on. If you’re putting some other tips in this article to work, you might have started a new morning workout routine already!
- Try belly breathing. Take deep breaths, expanding through your abdomen and belly rather than your chest. This can actually reduce both anxiety and asthma symptoms. It can even help with hypertension.
- Try out yoga or meditation if you never have before.
- Again, get out in nature! Leave the headphones at home and just enjoy the sounds of birds, water, and wind rustling through leaves.
9. Don’t isolate yourself
A common complaint amongst entrepreneurs is that starting a business can feel very isolating. Often, if we aren’t intentional about connecting and meeting up with people…it doesn’t happen. Maybe you’ve already experienced this. Try to get together with some friends or other loved ones at least a couple times a week. Pencil it into that calendar we talked about!
10. Cut out the coffee
*Record screeching sound* Wait, wait, wait, hold up.
Entrepreneurs are just supposed to drink a lot of coffee. Those 20 hour work days aren’t going to work themselves, right? Something’s gotta get us through!
We all know the stereotype of the entrepreneurial type at the airport, shutting his laptop and clutching a to-go coffee cup as he rushes to catch a flight. Or, having an assistant bring in coffee while she conducts a business meeting.
You get it.
Startups and caffeine just seem to go hand in hand. It makes sense.
Our Top 10 Health Tips for Entrepreneurs
You don’t need caffeine fatigue in your life. When we drink caffeine on a consistent, ongoing basis, over time that part of our brain that lets us know we’re sleepy—that part of the brain that caffeine temporarily blocks—gets more aggressive. When we tune it out with caffeine for long enough, our baseline energy level—or the amount of energy we have before caffeine—starts to lower, and we need more caffeine to get back to the old “normal.” This translates in real life to an overall more tired feeling. This tiredness can lead to less motivation and suppressed productivity—definitely the last thing you need right now!
It will do wonders for stress management. Entrepreneurs are under a lot of stress already without it coming from the things you drink! Caffeine releases the stress hormone cortisol into our bodies. Studies show that after drinking a cup of coffee, the level of cortisol in the body is the same as it would be in a situation of acute stress. Stress can be detrimental for all aspects of your business—client relationships and productivity are two that will take a hit if our stress isn’t managed.
Often when we drink coffee, we’re not just drinking coffee—we’re also drinking lots of sugar, fats, and artificial sweeteners. That adds up to a lot of “extras” in our diets that our bodies don’t need, which can contribute to unwanted weight gain. When blood sugar levels are spiked quickly (which happens once we down those sugary coffee drinks) on a consistent basis it can lead to sustained inflammation in the body. This poses lots of its own health concerns including joint pain, fatigue, chest pain, abdominal pain, fever, rash, and joint pain.
Probably the biggest health tip you could take away from this article is that the myth of coffee being a foundational tool in starting to business is just that—a myth.
Max Altschuler, SUTRA’s co-founder and Sales-Hacker CEO, knows what it’s like to lean on caffeine while starting a business. He documents drinking endless cups of coffee in his early entrepreneur days to keep up his energy and sustain productivity.
- There was a dark side to all of this caffeine consumption.
- Max was crashing at multiple points during the day.
- He wasn’t sleeping well, and in turn this meant needing even more coffee to reach that baseline energy level.
- He was experiencing irritability, anxiety, and impulsiveness.
It took a doctor’s visit, where he was told that his ALT levels in his liver were off, to realize that something—namely, the caffeine consumption—needed to change.
From there, it wasn’t immediately all roses. It took Max about 3 weeks to get off the caffeine, and another 3 weeks to feel like himself again. Those withdrawal symptoms are NO JOKE—but we put together a resource to help you stop drinking coffee with minimal side effects!
Max’s clear-headedness (y’know, the kind that comes with not having caffeine) helped him start a new business called Sales Hacker. He is sleeping better and working more effectively than ever, all thanks to switching superfoods in for the caffeine of days gone by. You can read more about his story, as well as his tips for cutting out caffeine, at this article. (https://www.sipsutra.com/blogs/news/how-i-quit-caffeine)
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