In the past, I have personally delayed self-care while working for multiple start-ups. I used to celebrate hustle, the border-line obsession to work, in the past, I have been proud of not sleeping for days. It was excessive workload, fuelled by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle that added to heightened anxiety, stress and the dreaded diseases. Lesson learnt the hard way.
As a small business owner, we end up burning the candle on both ends – long hours, the stress of managing employees, making the payrolls and not even that being a front face to the client and continuously upgrading your offerings. That’s a lot. It’s hard to justify downtime with so much responsibility on your plate, but self-care is necessary to keep the business going.
Leaders define their cultures. As a business owner if I don’t take my health seriously – the business stakeholders will notice. Your energy directly affects everyone around you. Self-care sets you up to be mentally, emotionally, and physically equipped to handle the demands of a small business.
Self-Care doesn’t mean expensive spa trips, yoga retreats or vacations to recharge. These may not be prudent options as many of us are trying to reserve cash while our businesses weather these turbulent times. Your everyday habits have the biggest impact on well-being. Self-care helps reduce stress levels, improves clarity & creativity, boosts productivity and improves mental health.
Here are some practical strategies to start right away – helping you practice some much-needed self-care that we often use at ZAC.
- Practice Boundaries – We want to please as many people as possible, even if it goes against our best interests. By always saying yes to your clients, family and friends without putting yourself first, you are giving your power away. Next time when someone asks you to do something stop and think about it first. Taking time for yourself and having healthy boundaries in your life is essential to your own wellbeing. Start thinking of ways to put yourself first.
- Breathing & Mindfulness – It is important to check in with your breath throughout the day. Remember to breathe because when you get stressed your body needs more oxygen. Use pranayama apps or try box breathing. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can be practised daily and even a ten-minute session a day is said to improve your mental health and well-being.
- Taking Care of the Vessel – Our body is our vessel hence it needs the top-quality fuel. Plan your workday meals in advance so you don’t turn to unhealthy options when you’re hungry and pressed for time. We at ZAC take nutrition seriously and have invested in Wildfit to learn more about nutrition.
- Feelings Check In – Often we face negative self-talk with a critical voice who shames us and takes us down a negative spiral. Having awareness to what it’s saying is the first step to making a change. Use a journal, use a friend, therapist or your co-founder to bounce these thoughts and with practice you will be surprised by the results. Tending to your mental health can set you up for long term success.
- Getting in the zzzz’s – A good night sleep can fix a lot of problems. Studies have shown that getting a regular 6-7 hours of sleep aids the body in recovering from daily stresses and helps to keep you in tip-top shape, ready for a day at the office. I make it a point to sleep for 7 hours use apps like Sleep Watch to monitor the quality of my sleep.
- Taking a Walk – Sitting is the new smoking! Has been a common alert these days. Walking for 5 minutes after every hour can be a great start. Then create intentional movements like walking, yoga, dancing or doing the form of exercise you like.
- Me Time – Taking an hour each evening after work to relax or making a point to log off during the weekend can go a long way to keeping you in a sound state of mind.
The most important part of self-care is scheduling. I want you to think of 3 self-care things you can schedule for you this week? Write them down and let me know what they are in the comments below. Use an accountability partner to help you stick to your self-care routine.