The life of an entrepreneur is one of high risk. One risk that isn't often addressed is that to your health. The fast-paced environment of today's entrepreneur means the need to pivot or scale can lead to your health being put behind other investments and priorities. Despite your health being arguably your most valuable asset, it often isn't regarded as one.
Four simple steps that are often already used at work can be translated into effective, evidence-based actions to help minimize the stress accumulation that can lead to burnout - therefore helping maximize efficiency and productivity.
Which is definitely good for business.
1 ) Tackle problems head-on:
High-achievers and entrepreneurs often don't recognize, or may even ignore, the early signs of stress. These signs are often seen as 'part of the territory' of success. Early help is therefore rarely sought.
And while this may be partly due to the fact these signs are not recognized or are accepted as 'normal', is it also partly because many people think that there is not much that can be done about stress - short of changing jobs.
However, stress can be managed by making small yet effective changes to your lifestyle, which can help prevent escalation of symptoms. The marginal gains made by small changes earlier on can have a great impact on your health later.
2) Listen to feedback:
When under tight deadlines or ever-growing to-do lists, it can be tempting to ignore seemingly-minor health concerns rather than to address them. Yet this is a false economy, as these concerns can be your body giving you feedback. And while you wouldn't ignore a customer or investor giving you feedback, you shouldn't ignore your body doing the same thing.
One of the effects of chronic stress is that it lowers your immune system's response. So if you have a cough that lingers, or feel generally unwell for a long time, listen to this feedback, and see a healthcare professional. It could be an early signs that, if addressed, can help stop a minor issue becoming a more significant one.
3) Invest your efforts wisely:
As an entrepreneur, it can be tempting to treat your clients or investors better than you treat yourself. Yet investing in your own wellbeing ultimately helps them, as you'll be better positioned to delivery more energy and focus, leading to better results.
You schedule and commit to meetings with valued clients and investors, so regard your healthcare appointments in the same way. Plan your health checkups, take them seriously, and follow-up appropriately. Arrange protected times for exercise and healthy eating, and as it can be temping to skimp on sleep, protect time for this too. You'll be more efficient and effective in the long run.
Client dinners and networking drinks are regarded as acceptable essential expenses. Start regarding your wellbeing and healthcare costs in the same way.
Workdays can be long and constantly different, and weekends non-existent. Remember that you need down-time for many reasons, including to properly form memories and learn new skills. Problem solving can be a key component of being an entrepreneur. This, in particular, needs mental down time, as this can help formulate novel solutions to existing problems.
4) Recognise warning signs:
If you notice signs of a recession in the market, you might change your strategy. Similarly, if you notice changes in your sleep, needing a lot more or a lot less of it, or changes in it's pattern, then seek professional help. If you feel tired, disconnected, or things that used to bring you joy stop being enjoyable, contact your healthcare professional. If you find you are doing things to escape how you're feeling, such as drinking to excess or smoking, or you've aches or a general feeling of being constantly a bit unwell, it may be time to seek help. And if you are finding it difficult to exercise, eat well, or you notice a change in your appetite or body weight, follow it up with someone professional.
Many entrepreneurs work in tight-knit teams. Remember that you may be best suited to identify these warning signs in colleagues, so keep an eye out for each other.
And finally, know your value:
To many entrepreneurs, success is when someone wants to invest in you. Being in good health can help enable this. Being healthy can help you feel more confident, which can inspire confidence in others. Looking after your health shows that you care about your best asset.
And it can help you get a maximum return on your most important investment: you.