If you’re in business for yourself, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Juggling your schedule with meeting customer expectations, producing content and the zillion other things you have to do can be draining to say the least. More often than not, health is the last thing entrepreneurs focus on when it should really be the first.
You may be surprised to know that the health of your business directly correlates to your physical health. When you focus on your health you’ll gain more energy, confidence and clarity in your business. Trust me, it’s true.
Here are five simple, yet essential tips every entrepreneur should know about health:
1. Too much coffee can slow you down.
Entrepreneurs often have a love affair with coffee. The smell, taste and rituals surrounding coffee are deeply ingrained in the culture of all nighters and business meetings. A coffee shop is, after all, the best free place to conduct business.
While there are some benefits to drinking coffee, it’s important to know that it inhibits your absorption of essential minerals, such as iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as B vitamins. It can also task your adrenal glands, sending your stress hormones way out of whack (as if you need any more stress in your life).
Takeaway #1: Limit yourself to 5 or less cups per week and switch to organic green or white tea to fill in the gaps.
2. Exercise improves your business.
Exercise might be nature’s wonder drug. It strengthens your body, balances your blood sugar, decreases stress, lifts your mood and clears your mind, all of which allow you to better focus on your business.
When people say “I don’t have time to exercise” it’s usually just an excuse for not wanting to exercise. This can be solved really easily by finding a way to exercise that you love and scheduling it into your planner, just like you would any other meeting. If you dread going to that spinning class give yourself permission NOT to take spinning classes anymore and find something you like. You don’t have to do the same boring thing over and over again. There are thousands of ways to exercise; you just have to find a few that you enjoy and actually look forward to. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels spinning: hiking, dancing, plyometrics, gym classes, belly dancing, yoga, Pilates, HIIT training, weight lifting, kettle bell workouts, bike riding… the list goes on.
Takeaway #2: If you want to run a successful kick-ass business, exercise MUST be part of your weekly schedule. Aim for four or five 30-45 minute sessions each week.
3. Balanced blood sugar is key to laser sharp focus.
Have you ever been so hungry you can’t think straight? Or, do you ever get such a high from a sugary snack or drink that you have a momentary bout of ADD? Both of these cases are signs of unbalanced blood sugar and are bad news for busy entrepreneurs.
When your blood sugar is too low, your brain thinks you are starving to death and literally won’t let you think about anything but food. So, if you walk into a meeting with low blood sugar you’ll not only be hungry, you won’t be able to focus on the business at hand. Similarly, when you spike your blood sugar high out of the normal range with soda, pastries or highly processed carbohydrates, your brain thinks it’s drowning in blood sugar and quickly goes to work using it up. Once it’s all taken in, you’re back in the low range. This vicious cycle of highs and lows destroys your concentration and distracts you from the task at hand.
Takeaway #3: Eat a healthy low-glycemic diet filled with protein, healthy carbs and good fats to keep your blood sugar stable and mind on track.
4. Excess alcohol zaps your energy.
Socializing is a huge part of entrepreneurship. Dinners, parties and celebrations are part of the gig. A drink every now and again is perfectly ok, but too much wreaks havoc on your mind and body. And when your mind and body aren’t in tiptop shape, your business suffers.
Alcohol dehydrates your body and decreases your sleep quality. It’s also full of toxins and unnecessary calories, both of which can lead to health problems.
Takeaway #4: Limit your alcohol intake to 3-4 drinks or less per week, and take a few weeks off every once in a while. If you do imbibe, choose an organic antioxidant-rich red wine or clear liquor (because clear liquors have less toxins than the dark stuff) without the sugary mixers.
5. Working too much sabotages your productivity.
I started my professional career at Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. I worked on a lot of Fortune 500 engagements where the staff would work 15 hour days, day after day after day. I remember always thinking (and observing when I was the manager responsible for reviewing the work) that the quality of someone’s work dramatically decreases as the hours went on. The work was always done quickly and error-free on Monday afternoons, but Thursday night around midnight things started to look a little hairy.
I knew exactly why, too. It was because people’s brains were fried. When you’re overworked, it will take 5 hours to complete what your well-rested brain can do in an hour. Entrepreneurs tend to burn the midnight oil when all they really need is a good night’s sleep or vacation to come back to a project with a fresh open mind. Always remember that no sleep and no play = mediocre work.
Takeaway #5: Set your schedule of work hours and commit to taking time off. Also commit to getting eight hours of sleep each night. Just like exercise, your working hours should be set in your schedule so you know when it’s time to shut down your computer and take some time to smell the roses.