When I was first launching Single Grain, I did what I was told all aspiring entrepreneurs did: I hustled hard. I started work the minute I woke up, scheduled meetings at all hours of the day and grabbed a few quick hours of sleep before starting it all again.
My company grew, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that, a few years in, I was facing a case of epic burnout so bad it led to me selling the business.
I have nothing against hard work and hustle. As an entrepreneur and CEO, I still put in long hours – often spent sitting and staring at a computer. But these days, I make more of an effort to keep my mind and body in shape. I recommend you do the same.
Why Your Physical and Mental Health Matter
There’s a reason why many entrepreneurs – including Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, and Arianna Huffington, among others – all talk about taking care of your body and mind, as well as your work.
An estimated 75 percent to 90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related issues. In an article for Inc. on “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship,” contributor Jessica Bruder notes that:
“In the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 34 percent of entrepreneurs–4 percentage points more than other workers–reported they were worried. And 45 percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed, 3 percentage points more than other workers.”
Stress, Bruder goes on to explain, stems not just from the psychological demands of business ownership, but from the fact that those “hustling hard” often neglect their physical and mental health in the process.
When you spend all day putting out fire after fire, your health often gets stuck on the back burner. Fortunately, I’ve learned that making yourself a priority again doesn’t require “scorched earth” action (like selling your business entirely). When it comes to the five different types of health, there are small things you can do to be a little bit healthier one day at a time.
Get your vitamin fix. With the wave of new consumer foods, beverage options, and nootrophics, it’s easier than ever to get essential vitamins and nutrients into your diet.
Try products that provide nutrient boosts with little downside. SUTRA has been a game-changer for me. I add it to my coffee to keep the kick, making it a bit healthier while leaving me feeling more focused and balanced. Companies like Bulletproof and Four Sigmatic are two other options to check out.
Make time to meditate. Everyone’s meditation can be different. I can’t do the traditional meditation of sitting still for 20 minutes, so I journal instead.
I write about what I’m grateful for (which helps me stay thankful, no matter what the day brings), what I’m stressed about (solutions seem more obvious once I write my problems out), how I grew the day before (little wins), and then my to-do list. This helps me get centered and find balance.
If you find it calming or clarity-inducing to sit and silently meditate, try using apps like Headspace or Calm. One company saw a 520% profit increase and a 120% productivity increase after implementing meditation.
Stop slouching, and fix your posture. It sounds like such a simple thing, but your posture is important, and it’ll have long term affects if you don’t take care of it now. We’re really the first generation where we’re all staring at screens, slouching in chairs or looking down at our phones.
Bad posture affects your breathing, your height, and the long-term health of your joints (experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives). I’ve been using a posture corrector I found on Amazon. Some people do stand up desks, or walking meetings. Get up and move around. It’s better for you in more ways than just your posture.
Some people get so deep into the weeds with their projects that they forget about what’s going on outside of their businesses. Don’t be one of them. Make time for friends, partners, children – even pets.
Remember, it’s never about quantity of time. It’s about the quality of that time. Understand your “hot” and “cold” zones when working. Tailor your day around when you do your best work, making room for social activity when you aren’t as focused.
Do you start off productive in the morning? Wake up earlier so you can get right to work. Then, by the time you need a break, you can take the kids to school or meet a friend for coffee. Are your best hours 5pm to 9pm? Grab lunch with friends, or take the early afternoon off to spend time with your spouse or kids.
It’s all about optimizing your schedule for your best hours – not the most hours.
Build in time for self improvement outside of daily tasks. If you’re working in your business, it’s hard to work on your business.
Separate your time in order to focus on things that’ll help you in the long term – like reading books (or listening to audiobooks), taking courses, or building new processes based on studying what other companies are doing. These are fun projects that help with work, but that don’t actually feel like work.