The importance of self-care
Updated: Sep 12
My little family packs up our busy lives and heads out to the Land Rover Safari event every year. My daughter focuses her attention on the four bags of toys she "must" bring along. My husband tries to reassure all of us that we will be fine, and the wolves in the background are like lighting, miles away. This time, while short-lived and full of adventure, is my happy place. We camp, barbecue, laugh, and love each other's company.
Outside of a healthy break away from our careers, it is essential to make time each day for self-care. Hopefully, some of my top five takeaways for a healthy "me" will help "you."
Nutrition is number one for me
Quality of life starts with the self. A balanced and healthy diet represents 80% of a clean lifestyle, so it's one of the first things we need to focus on. Still, it's also one of the first things we start to neglect as we embark on entrepreneurship's always-busy and unpredictable life. Managing a business will teach you how to master to-do lists, so why not start planning ahead your meals, like you plan your daily tasks?
Never skip breakfast. Emails can wait, so take the time to eat every morning. Not adding this to your daily routine can negatively affect your focus, concentration, and energy level. A protein-rich breakfast can also be your ally in fighting cravings and committing to a whole foods diet.
"The entrepreneur grind is hard enough without additional self-sabotage due to poor diet decisions." - Jessie Sumrak
You don't need to be a gourmet chef or even a decent cook to eat healthily. Luckily, there are lots of startups addressing this need of entrepreneurs. The days when you could only order pizza or fast food are behind us, as we're witnessing a boom in the niche of healthy food subscription boxes that can deliver ready-to-eat meals or all the necessary ingredients and the recipe to cook it yourself. There are countless websites with quick and easy-to-make healthy recipes and services to provide fresh veggies and fruit at your door.
Food, however, is not just what we eat but also what we drink. A simple habit like drinking more water will improve your overall health and quality of life significantly. According to LA-based leading dietitian Lori Zanini, studies show that approximately 75% of American adults suffer from chronic dehydration. To name a few of the effects, think headaches, loss of focus, and fatigue. Image how all these issues affect your professional life as well.
As entrepreneurs, we're always looking for ways to increase productivity, and working out can significantly affect it. According to a NASA study, people who didn't exercise experienced a 50% drop in productivity after seven hours of work compared to those who trained regularly.
We might find sitting in front of the computer beneficial for the business, but it's highly detrimental to our health. It may lead to muscle weakness, heart disease, poor blood circulation, diabetes, posture problems, and the list goes on. To stay in the best shape possible, top entrepreneurs turn working out into a daily routine.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey combines going to the gym, running, and doing squats and pushups, Elon Musk plays tennis, Richard Branson loves rock climbing, and Arianna Huffington practices yoga.
One of the advantages of entrepreneurship is having the freedom to make your own schedule. Many successful business owners prefer to wake up early and get the exercises done long before others get out of bed, but it's not a rule set in stone. You should find the time and form of activity that works for you.
Do you want to avoid the commute and wasting time in traffic? You can work out at home, sign up for an online program, download a workout app from fitness instructors like Kayla Itsines or Rebecca Louise, or listen to an upbeat workout playlist for an extra push. In case you opt for working out on your own, make sure you exercise correctly. Check out SpartaScience for all kinds of helpful fitness information on building muscle and proper training.
Exercising, however, shouldn't be limited to running, doing cardio, or strength. You need to approach it holistically and find creative ways of including physical activity in your daily routine. It can be anything from walking your dog or going with the kids in the park to doing hobbies like gardening, dancing, hiking, or practicing yoga. With a plethora of health and fitness gadgets like Fitbit or Apple Watch available on the market Today, it's easy to keep track of all the exercise you do throughout the day.
Love, Relations, and Your Support Network
Being an entrepreneur is hard. Being in a relationship as an entrepreneur is even more challenging. Both require lots of work, commitment, and dedication, and giving 100% to each of them at the same time is not easy. On the other hand, being with someone so invested in their work, and sitting by their side on the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship, is quite challenging.
Even so, balancing both entrepreneurship and a healthy, happy relationship is not unattainable. Just like you need to make time for business meetings, reply to emails, or analyze your company's financial situation, you need to make time to work on your relationship.
One of the first things you'll learn is that you need to be open and honest about your feelings and wishes in the relationship or the frustration, constant self-doubt, or occasional overwhelming feeling you get from being an entrepreneur.
Many valuable online resources such as Psychology Today can teach you how to work on your relationship. These disciplines will be advantageous in your personal and professional life once you turn them into a way of life.
Snooze, Snooze, Snooze....
Starting off as an entrepreneur is all about the hustle, and we seem to think it's ok to reduce or give up sleeping. You hear all these stories about successful people who sleep three or four hours a night, and you think you can do it and give 150% in your business and family life too. Well, sooner or later, you're bound to find out how utterly inaccurate that is.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours per night for adults.
The Huffington Post co-founder and author of the NY Times bestseller 'The Sleep Revolution' Ariana Huffington is a fierce sleep advocate. Unlike many entrepreneurs and people in general, she doesn't see sleep as time wasted but rather as the time we need to function correctly.
Our bodies and minds need to rest, heal, and we need sleep. Sleep is more like an investment, it is something you do that might seem useless at that time, but you will reap the benefits later. There will be plenty – from cognitive agility, better judgment, and decision-making to more productivity, better relationships, and a happier, less anxious self.
"The current male-dominated model of success – which equates with burnout, sleep deprivation, and driving yourself into the ground – isn't working for women, and it's not working for men either." – Arianna Huffington.
We are in a perpetual hurry, we let our to-do lists govern our lives, and we are all sleep-deprived, always-connected machines. We look for ways to avoid hitting the pause button when all we need is a good night's sleep.
Few things can calm our fast-paced minds and pause our always-turning brain wheels, and it's vital we find them. They're closer than we think, but somewhere we rarely have time to look anymore – in ourselves.
We're always on the go, doing at least two things at a time without being fully present in any of them and thinking of the next day, the following weekend, the next holiday. We fail to notice we live in the future and not in the present moment where we exist.
It is probably going to be one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do. Not starting a business, not the sleepless nights trying to figure out the hustle, not the self-doubt or anxiety entrepreneurship comes with – but learning how to live in the now. But when you do, it will bring a joyous life because all you have is the present moment, and here it's no time or space for yesterday's regrets or tomorrow's fears and hopes.
This belief is the foundation of Buddhism and a way of life for Tibetan prophet and spiritual leader Dalai Lama. He has taught millions of people how to make spirituality part of our everyday life and has pioneered the practice of mindfulness into a society that doesn't seem to have time to stop.
Along with him sits Jon Kabat-Zinn, the godfather of modern mindfulness, who sees meditation as "the radical act of love and sanity we need in the age of Trump, accelerating climate change and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire."
Meditation, yoga, and practicing compassion and gratitude are only a few of the ways we can learn how to cultivate our innate spirituality and sense of awareness. The over 18 million people subscribed to the Headspace app, mindfulness, and meditation app prove that this is what we need Today.
It's time. It's time you set your True North.