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Being an entrepreneur or freelancer comes with a lot of perks, such as feeling fulfillment from your career, gaining leadership experience, and having work-life autonomy – just to name a few.
But did you know that 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental health issues compared to only 48% of non-entrepreneurs, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health? Plus, combine that with the usual sedentary lifestyle of many entrepreneurs that spend the majority of their work hours in front of a screen and it’s no wonder that the health of entrepreneurs is an important topic to talk about.
Almost every entrepreneur and freelancer knows that when it comes to running a business, the work doesn’t end at 5 pm. Running a business is a lifestyle. And with that lifestyle comes stress, pressure, and intense focus. It’s easy to let running a business start to completely run your life, but it’s so important to – above all things – take care of yourself and your well-being.
Our PSA to all entrepreneurs and freelancers: Prioritize your health and wellness!
To make this easier for you, we created a Well Being Check List for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Take a look and see where you could up your health game.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is a very popular term and rightfully so. The Oxford definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” Basically, it’s prioritizing actions that allow you to feel healthy and be at your best.
Self-care is very personal and individualized. What works for one person, isn’t going to work for another. So know yourself and prioritize what works for you!
For some, self-care might look like taking action – such as incorporating exercise into your life or finally consulting your physician about a nagging health concern. Or it might look like inaction – such as incorporating more rest and relaxation into your life. For most people, a combination of both is ideal.
Well Being Check List for Entrepreneurs and Freelancers
Never underestimate a good night’s sleep. The better we sleep at night, the better we perform during the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of nightly sleep for adults aged 18-64 years old.
Also, do you have a nighttime routine to help prepare your body for a restful sleep? Activities such as limiting screen/work time a couple of hours before bed, deep breathing exercises, and drinking chamomile tea can aid your body to settle down for a more peaceful, restful sleep through the night. Everything seems to come together after a good night’s rest, don’t you think?
Making sure our bodies are getting the fuel they need is crucial. Not only will eating healthy food allow us to feel better throughout our days, but it can also help prevent more serious health conditions down the road.
We recognize that “eating healthy” looks different for everyone, so when it comes to getting good fuel into your body, find what works for you. Whether that is doing your own research, consulting your physician or a nutritionist, or doing self-experimentation with food, eating food that works for your body is going to be a game-changer.
Up your water intake. The common recommendation for your daily water intake is roughly eight 8oz cups a day, which equals 2 liters or half a gallon per day.
This will vary from person to person and certain factors can affect your needs, such as how active you are, where you live, the temperature or season, any medications you may take, your food intake, etc.
So grab your favorite water bottle and fill it up!
4. Movement and Exercise
Most entrepreneurs and freelancers are sedentary while working. That means it’s really important to get your body moving. The American Heart Association recommends to “get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.”
Ask yourself, What type of movement does my body enjoy? When during the day does my body enjoy movement? How often does my body crave movement?
Exercising and moving regularly can help prevent serious health conditions, allow you to feel more energetic throughout the day, and can decrease fatigue in the muscles and joints after sitting for long periods of time.
Amber Nash, writer, and editor of Nash Digital says, “when I feel that my energy or mood has tanked, I push myself to engage in a burst of 20-seconds of activity. Sometimes, the 20 seconds will encourage me to move more, but I always find that I’m more motivated and alert after my exercise snack. I am much more productive on the days that I practice my exercise snack than on the days that I talk myself out of doing the exercises.
Researchers found that 20-second – yes, just twenty seconds! – of stair climbing a few times per day improved the subjects’ cardiovascular fitness. You can do any exercise – bodyweight squats, kettlebell swings, jumping jacks, or walking lunges — to reap the positive rewards.”
What a great idea! Follow-up question… After we complete our exercise snack, is it time for the food snack?… Sounds like the perfect combo to us!
5. Rest and Relaxation
Everyone unwinds in their own way. Whether it’s reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a good ole game of Sudoku…whatever it is that floats your boat and helps you find your zen, do it!
The most important thing is to do it and to allow yourself to settle into the activity (or lack of activity). Many entrepreneurs and freelancers are ambitious, highly productive people. And sometimes doing an activity for the sake of pure enjoyment and relaxation gets put on the back burner. But remember, if it helps you to unwind and find inner peace throughout your day and your week, then it IS WORTH doing. Period.
6. Practice Gratitude
While there are many ways to practice gratitude, studies have shown that practicing gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Scientific benefits of incorporating more gratitude into your life are:
- Builds deeper relationships and connections
- Improves physical health
- Improves psychological health
- Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
- Improves quality of sleep
- Improves self-esteem
- Increases mental strength
Some great ways to include this into your routine are to have a gratitude journal, create a gratitude visual board, have a gratitude jar, pray, and do a morning meditation. Find out more about creating a daily gratitude practice here.
Also, say “Thank you” and “I appreciate you” as much as you can.
7. Use Your Support System and Release the Burden
Running a business is stressful. Period. Yes, it’s fulfilling, but heavy is the head that wears the crown. Finding ways to release the negativity, self-doubt, struggles, and overall “bad feelings” is imperative to your well-being.
Again, this will be a very personal process for everyone, but it’s important to prioritize finding a solution that works for you. Whether that is seeing a mental health professional, leaning on your support system, or journaling it out – do it as often as you need to find mental clarity.
Joel Muise, CEO and Cofounder of Tranquility Online, wrote that “The one habit or practice that has been the most helpful for me, especially regarding stress as it relates to my professional life has been to try my best to share my struggles with other entrepreneurs, business executives, my friends, and even my team…This has allowed me to gain more perspective, learn that I’m not alone with those feelings, and has increased the feeling of connection with those I’ve shared with.”
Krista Walsh, Founder of Krista Walsh Copywriting shared a different tactic that works for her. “I realized that what was going on on those unproductive, foggy, distracted days was that I was subconsciously being avoidant…So I decided to block out 30 minutes first thing in the mornings to free write all my bad feelings and negative thoughts. I wrote whatever came up until all the nagging thoughts were gone….
The change I’ve experienced since establishing this practice has been shocking. Immediately after doing it, I feel calmer and more focused–like I’ve purged the negative stuff and worries that were clogging up my brain. Writing them down, I am forced to acknowledge it with my conscious brain, rather than letting it subconsciously rule my decisions throughout the day.”
8. Turn Off the Screen!
Being on a screen for a long period of time can cause adverse effects on our health, such as eye strain, headaches, and poor sleep.
In today’s world being on a screen is inevitable, but it’s important to put up some boundaries. Taking regular breaks from screens during the day, turning off screens a couple of hours before bed, and not bringing the phone to bed are some helpful ways to create a boundary between you and the screen.
Also, what are some things you can enjoy doing on a screen that can be done without the screen? Maybe you wind down by playing games on your phone – how about getting a Crossword or Word Scramble magazine? Maybe you enjoy reading articles on your phone – print out the articles you want to read and recycle once you’re finished?
If you are looking to build your business AND focus on your well-being at the same time, click below to see if Haven Collective is the next step for you!
Written by April Warner