Entrepreneurs know how hard it is to start and maintain a business. It takes a lot of time – time working directly on obtaining and serving customers, time working on marketing, time working on accounting, and time trying to troubleshoot issues that have arisen – because there will be issues. On top of all that, for a business to be successful, it has to grow and adapt, which means its owner has to grow and adapt as well, which takes up more time. True, someday you may be able to delegate the bulk of the management tasks, but even before that’s an option, you have to make sure you take care of yourself on a personal level. And while self-care is recommended for everyone, it might look different for an entrepreneur. Here’s some ways to include self-care in your life.
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Skin Care Routine
This is an area where you have to find a precarious balance. Spending 10 to 30 minutes pampering your skin every day can help clear your head, but feeling like you have to spend an hour doing everything trending in the dermatology world to keep from looking like a hag – not relaxing.
Opt for what relaxes you. You may choose a routine as simple as a mild facial cleanser and slapping on some moisturizer, or you may go a bit more complex by adding in exfoliation, eye cream, and teeth whitening strips, but make sure it brings you joy and peace.
For me, I’m a big fan of the Yes To products, so I exfoliate, wash, moisturize, and toss on an eye cream. Once a week, I put on a fun face mask. Others have tried to get me to switch brands to Clinique or Lancome, but I prefer the feel of Yes To, so that’s what I stick with.
There’s a reason spas are popular – a day of pampering can do wonders for your sanity. If you can afford it, I strongly recommend visiting a professional, at least for a massage and body wrap, but you can mimic a variety of treatments at home with minimal trouble.
If you opt for a DIY home spa day, set the mood with candles, music, and refreshments. It may feel silly to make flavored waters and a fancy fish dish for just you, but it does wonders towards evoking that healthy, indulgent atmosphere. You won’t feel as pampered with a beer (nothing against beer! – just hear me out) and doritos as you will with a cucumber spritzer and ahi tuna.
Read A Book
And not a professional development book, either. Read for fun! Pull out the latest thriller novel, or a favorite classic, like The Count Of Monte Cristo, and sit down with a hot beverage. I read every night before bed to relax enough to sleep – I also read whenever I can carve out five minutes, but every night, it’s part of my routine.
Your schedule is probably pretty full, which only makes it all the more important to add some more appointments – with yourself. If you don’t block off time for yourself, you won’t find it naturally. Set aside a couple hours a week to do things for you- not chores, not errands, just self-care. Whether you decide to spend that time reading in a cafe or shopping for the newest fashions, a few hours can be just what you need for a reset.
On top of those few hours, periodically schedule an entire day with no responsibilities. Use this time to hit an amusement park, take a boat out on the lake, or embark on a day trip to explore a nearby town. It’s the best way to spend uninterrupted time with family and friends. For these activities, do not answer your phone for business calls. Don’t scroll through Instagram, don’t answer emails, just focus on living in the moment.
You don’t need to start seeing a therapist twice a week (or maybe you do?). Instead, set aside time once a week or twice a month to join friends for dinner and discuss what’s going on in your lives. You may opt to join a group of industry professionals who understand the stress of your work, or you may decide your current friend group can fill the need, but regular conversation, the chance to talk your way through issues and concerns, can be invaluable. It helps keep you from bottling everything up, and it can also help you strengthen relationships with others around you.
I am a huge fan of block scheduling when possible, because it often does wonders for improving your productivity and efficiency. You can slide into a groove with your workflow and complete more tasks on your to-do list in one large chunk than you will by jumping from task to task.
At least that’s how it is for me. You may find you’re most efficient using the pomodoro method or another productivity tactic, but figure out what works for you and utilize it.
Telling you to work may seem contrary to self-care but working more productively can free up more time for you to take care of yourself on a personal level.
This may be exercising in a gym for you – for me, it’s yoga and, on bad days, Krav Maga. But if you can, exercise outside. Hike a small mountain, run through the park, or otherwise include fresh air with physical exertion. Humans need vitamin D to survive so this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Make Meals Off-Limits
During your one-hour lunch break, don’t work. During dinner with your family, don’t answer the business phone. Make meal times off limits. Instead, use that time to enjoy refueling (which will keep you from overeating or eating unhealthy), and read, skim a fun blog, or watch a Youtube video to unwind. Meals are a great way to sneak mini-breaks into your day – the 45 minutes or so it takes to eat lets you engage in a relaxing actvity, and because you were going to eat anyway, the time isn’t wasted. And unless you’re an emergency room doctor, there’s very little that can’t wait until lunch is over.
No, not just for fun. We live in an age of technology – take advantage of it. Make a list of regular, repetitive tasks in your professional and personal life, and use that list to find out how you can streamline. Replace your morning online news search with Amazon Alexa giving you an aural overview while you brush your teeth. Use a grocery delivery service or meal delivery service instead of spending two hours in the grocery store (also good for your waistline and bank account, since it cuts down on impulse purchases!).
If technology can’t help you, another person can. CEOs have personal assistants, but those are probably out of budget for small business owners. However, you can still outsource specific tasks. Hire a content creator to run your company’s blog. Hire a travel agent to plan business trips so that you dont have to spend hours searching for the best flight prices, a nice hotel, and potential things to do in town. Hire a lawn service to handle the mowing and gardening rather than spending a valuable day off sweating in the yard. Bring a cleaning service in once or twice a month to keep your home clean so that you only have to deal with minor, daily tasks.
This isn’t to say you should outsource everything. I actually enjoy booking travel, as it helps build the anticipation for me (and since I’ve been booking personal and professional travel for people for years, I’m quite efficient at it). If you enjoy playing in the dirt, hiring a gardener may not be the best option for you. But examine your repetitive tasks and think of what you would love to outsource if you could afford it. Most likely, you can find someone in your price range and the financial outlay is certainly justified by the mental health benefits when you have a bit more time to relax.
On that note, you can even outsource dating. Not the actual building of relationships, but finding someone to date in the first place. Online dating and dating services get a bad rap, but there are benefits. The people you meet will generally be looking for the same thing as you, and you’ll have access to people farther outside your normal range. If you’re hoping to carve out time for a relationship as you build and maintain a business, consider outsourcing the initial meet-cute.
Take care of yourself by taking care of others. Dedicate one day a month – at minimum – to donating your time to a cause you believe in. Whether you walk dogs at the animal shelter, make calls on behalf of a political candidate, or deliver meals to the elderly, helping someone else can do wonders for your inner peace and frame of mind. Plus, if, like me, you feel guilty not doing something work-related, you can wear a t-shirt with your company logo on it as you volunteer, and then you’re advertising through good deeds!
Self-care is the only way to maintain your mental health as an entrepreneur and it’s an area we often overlook. You may be busy but you still must take the the time to take care of yourself, even if how you do so is adjusted to fit your lifestyle as a business owner.