Among all the hard things that entrepreneurs do, this one may be the hardest: Making time for self-care.
Why is it so hard? Because entrepreneurs are a uniquely driven bunch. We’re dream-chasing, business-building, self-reliant folks who often thrive on long periods of solitude to focus on our work. But without a proper balance between hard work and time to nurture ourselves, we can burn out.
And entrepreneurial burnout is bad for business.
Burnout can show up in ways you might not immediately recognize, especially if you’ve been going full throttle for a while. For entrepreneurs, it’s all too easy to get caught up in our work without realizing that we may be burning out.
But when we finally do run out of energy, the crash can be jarring. Entrepreneurs tend to report crippling physical or cognitive symptoms such as chronic disease or even “brain fog” that simply make it difficult or impossible for us to work. In other words, burned-out entrepreneurs often find that their bodies just shut down.
For the good of our health and our businesses, time for self-care is a discipline we all need to practice.
But for workaholic entrepreneurs (myself included), it can be hard to add self-care to our already-full routines. Instead of throwing our hands up, try this: Consider the ideas below and try just one today. Then try another tomorrow. See which activities feel right to you, and then pencil (or type) them into your daily schedule.
Find a hobby that you enjoy and indulge in it
Start simple. What sparks a little fire of excitement within you? Is there something you enjoy but don’t care to turn into a business? Switch gears and disconnect from your day-to-day work with a fun hobby that speaks to your soul and carries no expectations of profit or success. Do this as often as you need to; the more often, the better!
Get active and nurture your health
Entrepreneurs often spend long hours at the computer, plowing through work. By getting active and fitting in some exercise, you can help avoid the kind of mental exhaustion that characterizes burnout. Even if you may not have time for the gym, you can get moving by stretching or taking a walk. And remember: at a minimum, everyone has to eat and sleep. Fuel your body with good nutrition to sustain your productivity, and get honest with yourself about how much sleep you need to function well. Make time to care for your physical self.
You deserve it! Make time to treat yourself to something that rejuvenates you: a nap, a massage, a facial, even shopping. Give yourself an indulgence, however small it may be. By allowing yourself a little break, you can reward yourself for a job well done and give your brain and body a much-deserved break. And who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of pampering? You will emerge feeling more confident, refreshed, and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead of you.
No, really… It’s as simple as that. Turn off your computer, leave your phone, and make an appointment to spend time away from technology. Go hiking with a friend, walk your dog, read a book, practice an instrument, take an art class… Whatever you want, as long as you do it without the company of a computer, cell phone, or tablet. Without the distractions that come with technology, you can concentrate on connecting with the real world, and these quiet moments can breathe new life into your work.
Spend time with people
Every entrepreneur is first a person, and people need people. If you’re feeling burned out, the last thing you may want to do is to socialize. However, it’s crucial to spend some time with people outside of your work duties. Step out of your biz-life bubble to reconnect with the people you care about. Loneliness can be a big driver in burnout and health decline, but you can avoid feelings of isolation by making your relationships a priority.
Self-care may not come naturally to you, but be patient. It’s worth the effort. Making a space for intentional self-care as an entrepreneur will give you some time to refresh yourself so that you can recover from (or totally prevent) burnout.
Even the busiest of entrepreneurs need to find ways to take a breather, so make room for self-care in your routine. Force yourself to partake in it –put it on your to-do list if you must!
It’s good for you, and it’s good for business.