We’re living in an age of global burnout. Approximately 70% of people surveyed worldwide reported experiencing burnout in 2022. More and more, people are looking for a way to handle the challenges of modern work stress and burnout.
Self-care has been clinically shown to reduce stress, boost happiness and productivity, and improve people’s physical health.
It’s no wonder that the number of Google searches worldwide for the term ‘self-care’ has more than tripled in the last 5 years.
Understanding the power of self-care is doubly important for entrepreneurs as the line between work and personal life can easily become blurred; especially if you work from home.
For an entrepreneur, taking time to practice means avoiding burnout, maintaining energy and focus, and being able to sustain a healthy work-life balance that will help the business succeed in the long term.
In this article, I want to take a look at some self-care practices to keep your mind, body, and business in tip-top condition and resilient to burnout. Future you will thank you for taking the time to put a few of these into action. Let’s jump in!
What is Self Care?
Let’s clarify a few things straight away, self-care is not about:
- being selfish
- indulging yourself
- lavishing yourself with luxurious gifts/experiences.
But you’d be forgiven for this common misconception given the fact that self-care means different things depending on who you ask.
The World Health Organization (WHO) takes a healthcare-centric approach to define self-care: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
This is a decent definition however it is slightly too narrow for understanding the modern narrative around self-care.
Rather, according to Dr Michael Njunge, self-care is about
“the actions and behaviors we take on a daily basis to look after our holistic well-being… ensuring we are thriving as individuals.”
I like this definition as it is more all-encompassing, and nicely summarizes the spirit of self-care.
To better understand this holistic idea of self-care, we can look at the generally accepted seven types of self-care:
As we can see, self-care is about a lot more than just healthcare. And this is why it’s so powerful. When we are intentional, we are addressing the multidimensional aspects of good health, well-being, and happiness.
But I’m Just Too Busy
Before we touch on my favorite practices for the busy entrepreneur, I just want to take a moment to address the most common opposition people have when it comes to self-care.
I’m just too busy.
Despite the benefits, many people feel they just do not have the time for self-care. Whilst I understand that many people have hectic lives with little free time, I would stress that it’s important to make time nonetheless.
That little bit of time you invest into self-care will pay you huge dividends in the long run in terms of your health, relationships, and business.
But with that said, some people really are on a shoestring budget when it comes to time. As such I’m going to recommend some adjustments you can make to a self-care practice that can fit into any schedule.
Self-Care for Entrepreneurs
Setting Boundaries For Mental and Spiritual Self-Care
One of the challenges of working from home is that it can be difficult to ‘clock out’ at the end of the day. To maintain a healthy balance, it’s important to establish boundaries between your work and personal life.
One simple way to do this is to set clear working hours and stick to them.
When you set clear working hours, then you know the tasks for that day have to be completed within a certain amount of time.
This introduces time pressure. This time pressure takes advantage of Parkinson’s Law and forces you to work more efficiently.
Further, when you have a strict “clock out” time, you prime your brain to wind down and switch into destress and relaxation mode once.
When we do not have a strict ‘clock out’ time, there can be a temptation to keep working. Over the long run, this is an easy way to burnout.
Whilst it’s important to be flexible and responsive to the needs of your business, it’s also important to respect your own time and health enough to prioritize them.
During these downtime hours then, try to schedule a mental or spiritual self-care activity.
These activities will allow you to unburden yourself mentally and spiritually.
ADJUSTMENT: If you are in a super deep hustle, you need to spend as much time as possible on the business, or simply cannot stop working at a given time; then I recommend setting boundaries with breaks.
Pre-determine how many breaks you will take, for how long, and at what time. Then make sure you take them!
In those breaks, step away from your work and schedule some quick mental and spiritual self self-care activities.
- Taking a short walk in nature
- Doing some reflective journaling, and praying
Even just a few 15-minute sessions daily will go a long way to unburden your mind and nourish your spirit.
Make Time For Physical Self-Care
Physical self-care is not just about exercise, it encompasses everything related to taking care of the one body you have.
You cannot build a healthy business if you are suffering from ill-health. The three components of good physical self-care are exercise, diet, and recovery.
Exercise can help you to reduce stress, improve your mood, and maintain your body functioning like a well-oiled machine.
The worldwide recommendations for exercise are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity.
If you cannot fit in this much exercise around work, then get creative and incorporate short bursts of intense physical activity throughout the workday.
- Do a short but intense HIT workout at lunch
- Work at a standing or treadmill desk
- Rep out bodyweight exercises every so often e.g. 20 pushups one hour, 20 squats the next hour
Making time to eat healthy meals will help maintain your energy and focus throughout the day, and will protect your heart in the long run.
Try to incorporate a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your diet, and consider packing healthy snacks to keep with you when you’re on the go.
ADJUSTMENT: If you find yourself struggling to cook a healthy meal every day, then try meal prepping at the beginning of the week. Then you can just grab and go.
Make sleep a priority and ensure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is absolutely essential for an energized, productive, and happy mind.
If you’re feeling sore from your workouts then try adding recovery health practices into your self-care routine.
Don’t Go It Alone – Emotional and Social Self-Care
Emotional self-care refers to activities and behaviors that help you to manage and process your emotions.
As an entrepreneur, emotional self-care is essential for maintaining well-being and navigating the challenges of running a business.
Business is stressful. There will be ups and downs. But when you practice emotional self-care, you are increasing your resilience and your ability to bounce back when thing’s don’t go as planned.
Not to mention you are increasing your emotional intelligence, which can be a business superpower.
Examples of emotional self-care include:
- brain-dumping your emotions into a journal
- talking with someone close to you about how you feel
- doing positive affirmations
- speaking to a therapist
These are all quick to do and can fit around any schedule.
Something that goes hand in hand with emotional self-care, is social self-care. As a business owner, you may find that you have less time to socialize or connect with others due to the demands of running a business.
You are a social creature and it’s in your DNA to want to live and work around others.
Neglecting social self care can lead to feeling isolated, stressed, and often manifests will negative emotional states.
Luckily programming in social self-care activities is fun and easy to do. Examples include:
- spending time with friends and family e.g. have a phone call, invite them over for dinner
- participating in social hobbies e.g. join a sports team
- volunteering and give back to your community (this will also feed into your spiritual self-care)
These activities can help you to feel more connected and supported and can provide a sense of purpose and meaning.
Self-care is an essential part of maintaining your holistic wellbeing, and can be a major factor in your success as an entrepreneur.
When done right, self-care helps to reduce stress and prevent burnout, boost happiness and productivity, and improve physical health.
By incorporating self-care practices such as setting boundaries, making time for physical health activities, and seeking support from others, entrepreneurs can create a healthy work-life balance and sustain a thriving business in the long term.
Don’t underestimate the importance of self-care, and make it a priority in your daily routine to ensure the success and well-being of your small business.