I love the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey, mostly because she says the craziest things! One thing she said in the first season has stuck with me ever since that show. She said, “Weekend … what’s a weekend?” As an entrepreneur, I could really relate to this idea although of course she didn’t mean it the way it struck me. Her life is one of leisure and there’s never a need for “down time.” But for us business people, the idea that we put business aside (and gasp … relax!) for two whole days is pretty foreign!
So what’s an entrepreneur to do … burnout isn’t pretty and we are all just a weekend or two away from that frustrating exhausted feeling. Am I right? THIS is exactly why self-care isn’t a luxury. Taking time for yourself is the best way to be sure that you can keep doing amazing things in the business you love!
So what is self-care exactly? The obvious answer would be, “It’s taking care of yourself.” As someone whose 10-year entrepreneurial career is all about taking care of others, I have often found my own self-care at the bottom of the “to-do” list. And then four years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition that forced me to figure out what kind of self-care I really needed. Since then I have found a long list of things I do on weekends and weekdays to be sure I actually take care of me.
1. Good nutrition IS self-care. If you want to be at the top of your business game, you have to fuel your body to excel. This means finding easy, tasty choices that are high in essential nutrients but not highly processed. Things like vegetables, fruits, high-quality protein and whole grains. If you keep your choices in this range at least 80% of the time, you will have the fuel to make the best decisions, focus, and maximize your business hours.
2. Go outside. Leave the house, the office and the computer for at least 15 minutes each workday. Ken has his porch office, which is a great example of breaking out of the “home office” shell. There’s also Earthing, which is new research on the benefits of getting your bare feet on the earth every day. Just take your shoes off and sit with your feet on the grass for five minutes every day. Even though this is a challenge in the winter, do it whenever the weather permits!
3. Sleep. It’s that simple … get enough sleep! But I understand it may not be easy to sleep. Doesn’t your mind race with all the tasks at hand? If you struggle with sleep, consider limiting caffeine later in the day (you knew I was going to say that, right?). Drink your hydrating water earlier in the day so you aren’t awakened during the night. Dim the lights in your house starting at sunset, which creates a winding down ritual for both mind and body. Turn off the electrical devices including your TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime. And keep a notebook by your bed to write down any great ideas or solutions that are running around in your head during the night.
4. Reach out for help with self-care. Find professionals whose mission is to help you be a better you. Scheduling that time can be the best thing you do for yourself every month. Maybe for you this means making a massage appointment, a golf lesson, or personal training session. I also use acupuncture to help me manage the mental and emotional stresses of entrepreneurial life. If needles aren’t your thing, there’s always counseling or talk therapy too.
5. Be spontaneous and have fun! Sounds crazy to schedule time for fun, doesn’t it? When we live and breathe our businesses (whether corporate or entrepreneurial), balance isn’t always a natural inclination. Having entirely open days every month with zero plans is a great thing. Find friends and family you’d enjoy spending the day with, and resolve to plan nothing until that day. Just do something you’re in the mood for right then.
Now darn it, get off the computer and go relax. It’s a matter of survival!
Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!