Building a business is an exhausting endeavour. It is certainly understandable if you’ve let other priorities slide as a result. However, failing to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a long-term basis can have serious consequences. The risk of burnout is a pending reality if you neglect your health. In fact, 78% of startup owners have reported experiencing it.

To prevent the side effects of stress from developing over time, it is paramount to implement healthy habits from the outset. Don’t wait until your business has taken off the ground to try and incorporate an effective work-life balance. You’ll find that there’s always an excuse available to neglect your mental and physical health!

Statistically, years two to ten of your business represent the highest risk of burnout. This is exactly why it makes sense to immediately take action in the following areas:

Sleep

Why is sleep being addressed first? Simply put: it’s often the first thing that suffers when you have a busy schedule. An alarming issue, as the need for sufficient sleep at regular hours cannot be overstated. After all, sleep is one of the most important ways to stay healthy! It is a natural healer that helps to reduce stress levels. Without sleep, you are less able to focus, problem solve and make decisions which all points in the direction that you are ill-equipped to effectively build your business.

If you’re struggling to enjoy quality sleep, there are some steps you can take. The most obvious; and often most challenging; is to reduce your screen time at night. That means enforcing a strict cut-off time when it comes to computers and mobile phones. You should also avoid coffee from late afternoon onwards and try not to eat heavy meals right before bed.

Still unable to get to sleep? Natural supplements like melatonin have proven to be quite helpful. You could also focus on beginning to set time for a relaxing routine to prepare for bed, including a hot bath, soft lighting and peaceful music.

Diet

Grabbing food on the go is all well and good once in a while, but “quick and easy” shouldn’t define your diet. Instead of believing you’re too busy to enjoy regular, nutritious meals, realize that you need regular, nutritious meals because you’re so busy! Food is fuel, and without it your body is liable to break down. The first step you should take is scheduling a strict lunch hour. During this dedicated time for lunch, you then must commit to using that time each day to eat, preferably away from your desk.

Rather than eating sugar-filled foods that give you a quick rush of energy before a crash, look for foods that release energy gradually throughout the day. That means protein, carbs, grains, and beans. Stock up on healthy snacks in the office like nuts and dried fruit so you can graze throughout the day.

You’ve heard it before, and the truth of the fact hasn’t gone anywhere: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s simply non-negotiable. Set your alarm with sufficient time to eat so that you start your working day in the best possible way.

Exercise

Exercise has incredible benefits for both physical and mental health. Count it among one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Although you may look at your schedule and wonder how you’ll possibly find the time to cram it in, remember that exercise extends beyond the gym. Even a fifteen-minute walk on your lunch break is better than nothing at all. If you love to swim or enjoy playing football with your friends, prioritize these fun and energetic activities during your free time.

When you’re tired after a long day, it’s difficult to motivate yourself to move. However, exercise actually boosts your energy levels. You’ll feel much better afterwards! It also increases creativity and concentration, so you may see positive effects in the workplace too. Often, we carry stress in our bodies without even realizing it. Enjoyable movement is a great way to release tension, and your quality of sleep will improve as a result.

Mental Health

Taking care of your body is one thing. Taking care of your brain is another! However, they are deeply connected. For example, exercise has preventative qualities when it comes to the symptoms of depression. Similarly, stress can manifest as muscle pain or headaches. To look after your mental health, why not incorporate a mindfulness practice into your routine? Apps such as Calm and Mindspace offer short-guided meditations that have a long-lasting effect.

Another way to keep a positive mindset is to connect with other people. Working long hours can alienate you from family and friends, and this naturally has an impact on your mood. The solution? Make a concerted effort to spend quality time with them, and importantly, put your mobile phone away when you do!

If you can spend quality time with them in nature, that’s better still. Even a short spell outdoors can work wonders in terms of reducing the risk of anxiety, stress and depression.

Self Care

What are the things that make you feel like you? Maybe it’s time spent pursuing a hobby. Maybe you love to go to the spa and get a rejuvenating massage. Maybe you just love a quiet day in bed with a book. Whatever it is that brings joy to your life, make sure that’s not being consumed by your work schedule.

It’s also important to ensure you don’t neglect those important appointments that keep you feeling great. For example, your dentist check-up shouldn’t be delayed indefinitely. Sometimes you will need to go to the doctor. On days that you feel sick, don’t force yourself to work through it. Not only will your body suffer, but your work won’t be of your usual high standard. It’s better to tell the truth and reschedule a meeting than give a terrible first impression that you can’t take back.

Being a business owner doesn’t stop you from being a human being. Remember why you decided to start a business in the first place and design a lifestyle that serves all of your interests. After all, work is an important part of life, but it’s only one part of it.

If you ignore your needs, whether they be mental, physical or spiritual, it’s only a matter of time until problems start to show up in the workplace, which means that your health should be considered a priority for your business.

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