To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be on top of your game. And to do that, you need to be healthy.
As an entrepreneur, you are probably spinning all day, juggling work and home, slogging and burning the midnight oil…all in an attempt to make your venture a success. And it never ends, does it? Once the business is up and running, you have to retain customers, attract new customers, keep track of the competition, run your office, expand, innovate, balance the financials…it’s never-ending.
And all this comes at the expense of your health. Chances are you are not getting enough sleep, you are not eating healthy, you are not exercising and you are overcome with stress. But you shrug it off. After all, you have bigger battles to fight than your health!
But no, it doesn’t work that way. As an entrepreneur, you are the one who is solely responsible for your business – it’s your baby. If you are stressed, sleep-deprived, unfit and under-nourished, how do you expect your business to thrive? Your business is only as healthy as you are. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you could fall ill, and in the long run, your business will suffer.
Here are some areas you need to be aware of:
Stress: Over a long period of time stress takes its toll on the body. One of the major areas affected is the thymus gland which plays a key role in the body’s immune system. The thymus gland pumps out millions of lymphocytes each day that circulate throughout the body and kill bacterial invaders. Killer cells called macrophages literally eat invading bacteria. They operate in all parts of the body and we depend on them for our survival. A steroid called cortisol, which is released by the adrenal gland when we experience stress, weakens macrophages. A weakened immune system makes us susceptible to infection and this is why people under stress often experience habitual attacks of colds and flu.
One of the pioneers of stress research, Dr. Hans Selye wrote, “Stress is essentially reflected by the rate of all the wear and tear caused by life.” His research convinced him that the body has only a finite reserve of energy to adapt to the stressors of life. Selye compared this reserve to a bank account where we can make withdrawals from time to time but into which we cannot make deposits. It is a non-renewable reserve of energy that we draw on throughout life until finally, it is exhausted and death results. Some people fritter away their reserves and suffer premature ageing as a result; others are more prudent and consequently maintain a supply over a longer period of time.
Action: You need to de-stress. Take vacations periodically, spend time with friends or family, do yoga or meditate.
Unhealthy eating: Many entrepreneurs skip meals. Others eat unhealthy junk food. And many, who don’t want to bother about cooking, either eat out or order in. Chances are you are either undernourished or you are on your way to becoming obese. And neither is a good place to be. After all, our body is our temple. We need to keep it healthy for it to function at its optimum. If you are eating the wrong foods, you will feel tired, depleted and cranky. If you are over-eating, you could soon feel disgusted with yourself and that could lead to either starving yourself or indulging in binge eating.
Action: Eat healthy. Make it a point to eat three meals a day and add in two-three healthy snacks like nuts or fruits. Avoid junk food. Restrict eating out to weekends.
No exercise: There have been enough and more studies that talk about the benefits of exercise. Forget weight loss; exercise keeps you fit – in both body and mind. When you don’t exercise, your muscle mass decreases, you put on weight, you become unfit. When you are running your own business, you need high levels of energy and fitness. Without regular exercise, your energy levels will deplete. And exercise is a stress buster too. When you exercise, it releases feel-good endorphins. With all the stress you face on a daily basis, you could burn out. Plus, when your business is going through a challenging period, you could feel down. Exercise will boost you and make you feel good, apart from increasing your levels of fitness.
Action: If you don’t exercise, start small. Begin by walking for ten to fifteen minutes every day. Ideally, find an exercise you love – it could be swimming, tennis, dancing…anything that appeals to you. Join a gym and commit to going thrice a week. It is possible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Sleep deprivation: In an earlier article I’d talked about why sleep is important. As an entrepreneur, you need to be on top of your game, which means you need to be alert. Lack of sleep can make you fuzzy and slow. When quick decisions are required, you may find that you are having a problem making them. Also, lack of sleep can make you more prone to making mistakes because you are not alert. And that is something you don’t want because it can harm your fledgling business. Apart from all this, lack of sleep can cause a host of health problems. And when you have a stressful business to run, the last thing you need is a health problem.
Action: Make it a point to sleep six to eight hours every night. Turn off your smartphone and let your mind relax. Don’t think about work problems in bed. Meditate or count sheep till you fall asleep. If you suffer from insomnia, you could consult a sleep specialist.
The old saying – health is wealth – is a truism. And for an entrepreneur, whose wealth is directly linked to the health of the business, your own health – mental, physical and spiritual – will determine the health and wealth of your business. Stay heathy!