As a small business owner, there’s a lot riding on your shoulders. It’s hard to justify downtime with so much responsibility on your plate, but self care is necessary if you’re going to avoid burnout and keep your business running. While vacations and long weekends are an excellent way to recharge, your everyday habits have the biggest impact on well-being. For less stress and more success, make these six self care essentials a priority.
Staying up late working may help you get things done today, but it only tanks your productivity tomorrow. For consistent energy throughout the workweek, good sleep is essential. Make sure you’re stepping away from work for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Stop using electronics 30 minutes before bed to avoid disrupting your sleep with blue light. Keep in mind that it’s not just quantity of sleep that matters, but quality, too. If you’re waking up feeling groggy or achy, it’s a sign you’re not getting quality sleep.
While there are a number of factors that lead to poor sleep, an aging or uncomfortable mattress is commonly the culprit. If you’ve owned your mattress for more than seven years or your mattress aggravates pressure points, it’s time to upgrade.
Your diet doesn’t just determine the size of your waistline — it also impacts your work performance. If you’re eating food that spikes your blood sugar or indulging in fatty meals mid-day, you might notice your energy lagging and your brain growing groggy well before the workday ends. The Harvard Business Review recommends eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day instead and eating smaller, more frequent meals to supply your body with a consistent stream of energy. The best way to accomplish that? Plan and pack workday meals in advance so you don’t turn to unhealthy options when you’re hungry and pressed for time.
When you’re neck-deep in your to-do list, it’s hard to see the value of taking time out for exercise. But when you consider that exercise increases energy, improves focus, relieves stress and boosts confidence and creativity, the value of exercise to small business owners becomes obvious. Make time in your day for exercise. In addition to a morning or evening workout, take 10-minute breaks throughout the day to get up and move.
Do you ever have days where you feel like you didn’t get anything done, despite being busy all day? Those days are inevitable every once in a while, but if they’re a regular occurrence, it’s worth taking a closer look at your time management habits. Are you planning your days and following a schedule, or are you putting out fires as they happen? Do you set aside time for answering emails and taking phone calls, or is your inbox a constant source of interruption throughout the day? By blocking out the day’s tasks into designated time slots, prioritizing tasks based on urgency, and focusing on one thing at a time instead of multitasking, you can better manage your time to get more done.
Even when you’re running a tight ship, it’s stressful knowing that the success or failure of your business is up to you. But if you can’t manage that stress, you’ll struggle to sustain your business over the long-term. Make sure you’re taking time to unplug and engage in activities you enjoy. As much as your business is a part of you, it’s important to maintain a life outside of business ownership. Make time and space for relationships and hobbies, and remind yourself of the things that are going right with your small business.
The setting in which you work can have enormously positive – or negative – impact on your working wellness. A distraction-free home office is just the beginning though! Are you keeping your space free of productivity leeches such as clutter and trash? Do you have any office plants, a fish tank or great spaces for your pets to nestle nearby? How is the air in your space – is the air stale or humid enough for you to keep well? It’s so easy to ignore your working environment – taking care of your space can benefit your wellbeing.
When you’re feeling the pressure of small business ownership, it’s tempting to power through and spend every free moment working. But the truth is, the work will always be there — but if you don’t take care of yourself, you might not be. While it’s never easy to slow down and take time for self care, it’s the key to making it work as a small business owner.
Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created GigMine because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas.