A small to moderate dose of caffeine can make you feel more focused. However, too much can turn into a bad situation, so finding your sweet spot is key.Read More
Lately I've been getting real and sharing how our imperfections and struggles can actually help people more. With that, I've opened up about burning out and needing to take more time for self-care.
While I don't believe a work-life balance exists in the way of a perfect 50/50, I DO believe in the ebbs and flows. I believe in pulling ourselves back to a home base and remaining self-aware.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, this is one of my favorite quotes:
And of course, my own motto is:
Today we have Per Wickstrom sharing his 5 favorite tips for work-life balance.
Per struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for decades. Thankfully he found help through a rehab program and began his path to recovery. He has a passion for helping others and went on to develop his own drug rehab program.
Per understands the power of helping one another. He's learned a great deal about the importance of self-care in business and entrepreneurship.
I appreciate and respect his journey, so I couldn't turn down the opportunity to have him share.
Please join the discussion and share your own self-care and balance tips in the comments!
5 Tips for Keeping Work-Life Balance
On the road to professional success, it can be easy to lose sight of your personal life. When work is your focus, seeing loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and taking time for yourself often fall to the wayside. But it’s important for your mental health and the well-being of your family to find a balance between work and home. Here are a few tips for maintaining a happy work-life balance:
1 | Meditate
Whether you do it in the morning when you wake up, or just before starting work to get you focused, set aside time to meditate each day. We’re so quick to move straight into the next activity that we rarely pause to appreciate the transitions throughout the day. Our minds should get to take a moment to relax and reboot!
2 | Focus your attention on one item at a time
You probably have a lot of different responsibilities to take care of on a daily basis, so it’s understandable that they might be on your mind. But if you can learn to focus completely on the task at hand, you’ll not only be happier, you’ll be more productive. Leave work at work and keep home off your mind as much as possible.
3 | Eliminate distractions
Emergencies can happen at any time, so it’s not fair to suggest you leave your phone completely out of reach while at work. You can, however, limit your vulnerability to false alarms and interruptions. If you work a desk job, for example, that might mean turning your personal phone on airplane mode while you finish working on a project. If you’re at home, it means turning off your phone and any alerts about work. Be in the present moment where you are.
If you work at a desk job or somewhere you can be on your phone, don’t sit on social media all day. Limit yourself to only work-related websites, and if you find yourself feeling tempted, there are even apps you can install on your browser that will block unproductive sites.
4 | Remind yourself of your motivations
You may tell yourself that it’s all for the family, but if you think you might be overworking, reexamine your motivation. Why are you working so much? If it’s to provide a better life for your family, make sure you’re not sacrificing vital time with them now. Sure, a third grade production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” may seem like a little thing to miss if there’s a multi-million dollar deal on the table, but consider that you may be losing your family little thing by little thing.
5 | Celebrate holidays
Don’t skip the holidays. Sure, they’re a day that you could really get ahead. But it’s a free day off! Make the most of it! See your best friend, hang out with your kids, visit the local park, or even simply appreciate a few hours of extra sleep. You ever notice how holidays tend to come at times when you could really use a break? Embrace it.
Finding success in your professional life doesn’t have to mean giving up the rest of your values and hobbies. By finding the right balance, you can excel in any area and even use the different hats you wear to work in each others favor.
Per Wickstrom is the CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation Center. Founded on the principles of natural healing, BDR is one of the largest holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He is a recovering addict and firm believer that everyone has the power to make healthy changes for themselves. To learn more, follow Per on Twitter and Facebook.
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you've probably noticed my attempts at simplifying my life (such as here, here, and here). For me it's been an ongoing task that requires frequent reminders and resets. But that's okay! That's life.
I've been thinking about it a lot again (maybe that urge to spring clean?). Not only in regards to physical objects, but also in regards to my business and obligations, as Jennifer mentions in number two below. Danielle Dowling recently asked, "Of everything on your to-do list, what could you live without?" that really made me stop and think.
So I'm excited to have Jennifer Scott from Spirit Finder on the blog today reminding us of the invaluable benefits of simplifying your life, plus plenty of tips to help us get there.
Many people tout the benefits of simplifying your life. On the surface, living a minimalist lifestyle may not sound appealing to everyone. But the many benefits to be gained from simplifying your life might just change your mind.
1 | Simplify Your Life to Save Money
Some people decide to simplify their lives due to financial stress. The many things and luxuries we indulge in only increase financial strain for those who are already financially crunched. By skipping luxuries we don’t really need, such as expensive vacations, frequent meals at high-priced, fancy restaurants, and the latest brand-name fashion trends can save substantial amounts of money that you can save for a rainy day or put to a good use, such as paying off credit card debt.
Skipping these luxuries doesn’t mean you have to give up the benefits of them, however. Instead of buying new clothes, shop at a used clothing store to snag trendy clothes and accessories without the brand-name price tag. Keep in touch with family and friends through conference calls and video chats instead of springing for a plane ticket for a family reunion. There are many ways to realize the end goals of the things you spend money on without the high cost.
2 | Simplifying Your Life Can Reduce Stress
It also means minimizing your commitments and your schedule, as well as learning to say, “No,” to the things that you don’t truly have time for. By choosing to commit only to what you can realistically fit into your schedule, you’ll reduce stress and have more time to dedicate to the areas of your life that are most important to you.
For example, by avoiding over-committing, you’ll have more time to prepare healthy meals, get adequate sleep, and even exercise, all of which contribute to your overall health and well-being. When you take good care of yourself, you’re better able to cope with stress.
[further reading >> 38 Ways to Simplify Your Life + Feel More Peaceful]
3 | Be More Present by Simplifying Your Life
When you simplify your life – both your environment and your schedule – you’ll find that you’re able to be more present in the moment, attentive to the people you’re conversing with, and able to devote your full attention to whatever task you’re focused on. Being present allows you to develop mindfulness.
Being present can have dramatic impacts on your life; in fact, people who are more present tend to have greater charisma. Charisma, of course, is beneficial in many ways, from allowing you to excel in the workplace to enhancing your social life and opening doors to fantastic opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on if you were marginally focused, inattentive, or distracted.
4 | Gaining Time to Focus on Your Health and Personal Life Creates Balance
One of the biggest struggles adults face today is the challenge of balancing family and career. We wish for more time to spend with our children, more time to rest and recharge, and more time to pursue our career goals. There never seems to be enough time in the day, but simplifying your life can help to solve these challenges.
By simplifying your schedule, you can devote time to the various facets of your life that are most important. Decide to unplug every weekend, for example, and devote Saturday and Sunday to quality family time. When you make the decision to prioritize what matters and schedule time for it, you’ll feel less stressed and more balanced overall.
There are many benefits of simplifying your life; the four discussed here are merely a few of the major areas of life that reap rewards when you decide to live a simpler lifestyle. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small, seemingly insignificant benefits that contribute to the greater sense of well-being and balance you’ll achieve by opting for a simplistic lifestyle.
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
Running my own business often requires me to make tough choices about which tasks get the highest priority. Unfortunately, this often results in my health and fitness getting bumped further and further down the list when something urgent rolls in. (and everything business-related feels URGENT, right?) Being active and fit is not only great for your mental health, happiness, and overall well-being, but in turn benefits your business. This is why I'm so pleased to have Jennifer McGregor on the blog today.
She's sharing 5 tips for busy entrepreneurs like you and me to manage our time and fit great workouts in on a regular basis. #4 is the tip that's helped me the most. At the beginning of each week I try to schedule in which CrossFit classes I'll attend.
Please welcome Jennifer and read on for her super helpful tips.
Every woman wants to be healthy and fit, but finding the time to work out every day is easier said than done when you’re a busy, working professional. It’s a gripe shared by many working women these days who recognize the value of exercise in their daily routines yet can’t seem to squeeze out a precious extra hour or two each day. We can’t put more hours in a day, but we can find creative ways to burn some calories and fit in a workout despite a busy schedule.
Here are 5 exercise tips for the busy, working woman:
1 | Embrace Quick, Do-Anywhere Workouts
You’re not alone in your quest for better physical fitness while having absolutely zero hours to hit the gym. Some fitness pros have created quick, no-equipment workouts that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime you have a few spare minutes. For instance, this workout by Jessica Padykula from SheKnows takes just 20 minutes and hits all the key areas using your body weight. If you do it right, you should finish fatigued.
2 | Choose Workouts Wisely for Maximum Benefit
Choosing moves that burn the most calories and tone your target areas will help you focus your efforts. Activities like swimming, squash, cycling, and running are all excellent ways to strengthen and tone muscles, boost overall energy, and get a cardiovascular workout all at once. Plus, they’re most effective when done with an exercise buddy who can be there to cheer you on!
3 | Get Your Workout in Early in the Morning
Yes, that means getting out of bed a half hour to an hour earlier, and it will probably be brutal for the first few days (or weeks). But the rewards are well worth it. After you get your heart rate up and your blood flowing, you’ll be wide awake and ready to take charge of your day. There are few other opportunities throughout the day to steal an extra hour, so take advantage of the wee hours of the morning before your day kicks into gear.
4 | Schedule Your Workouts Like You Schedule Meetings and Appointments
Get your planner out or open your calendar app and take a look at your schedule for the week ahead. If you have an open evening, schedule in time to hit a local yoga class that day. On days when you don’t have early-morning meetings at the office, plan to hit the gym before work. When you schedule in time for taking care of your health just as you do your other obligations, you’ll find that it’s easier to find the time—because you’ve already set it aside.
5 | Work Out at Home
For some busy working women, packing up your gym bag and driving to the gym is a major deterrent. After all, that adds more time to the overall obligation of getting your workout in. If this is a challenge for you, skip the gym and create a space in your home that you can use to work out whenever it’s convenient. Quick exercises like squats, push-ups, and tricep dips are easy to perform at home – no instructor needed. If you have a dog, take a morning or evening walk around the neighborhood or play a game of chase in the backyard. Exercising with your dog is a great option because it can be done right at home any time and feels more like playing than a workout!
Being a busy woman—mom, wife, daughter, employee, or whatever roles you’re juggling—doesn’t have to mean you can’t make your health and fitness a priority too. Use these tips to make a regular workout part of your healthy lifestyle, no matter how crazy your schedule.
Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create PublicHealthLibrary.org with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.
Last year I set two goals for myself. One was to not work on the weekends and the other was to get seven or more hours of sleep each night. There have been some bumpy moments along the way, but for the most part, I've managed to stick to these two rules. And let me tell you, the difference is HUGE. My energy levels are up. My productivity levels are up. My ability to focus is way up. So you can see how this would have a direct impact on business.
This is why I'm so excited to have our guest author, Jill Merkel, here today to talk to us about how your diet can affect sleep quality. Because not only do we want between 6 and 8 hours of sleep every night, we want those hours to be restful and rejuvenating. Jill is a Registered Dietitian, so she definitely knows her stuff. Read on to find out more about the foods you should eat for a better sleep.
Sleep is so important for the body and may be the first thing to go from the “to do” list when life gets busy. Some even wear their poor sleep habits as a “badge of honor,” re-emphasizing how busy they are or their lack of need for much sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for adults by the National Sleep Foundation is 7-9 hours. It’s not recommended to get less than 6 hours or more than 10 hours. A consistent sleep routine is better than a sporadic sleep pattern.
What Sleep Does For You
- Restores your body
- Repairs, strengthens, and rebuilds muscles
- Stimulates immune system
- Improves cognitive function, memory, and coordination
- Increases calcium retention and strengthens bone mass
Inadequate sleep can be described as shorter sleep duration or poor sleep quality. Sleep deprivation is 4 hours (or less) of sleep per night!
- Increases appetite, especially for high calorie, carbohydrate-rich foods
- Increases storage of calories as fat, especially around the abdominal area
- Increases inflammation
- Causes fatigue, low energy, slower recovery, and poor focus
- Increases risk of injury
Did you know that consuming certain foods might help you sleep better? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating a variety of foods and nutrients, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds. Consuming a well-balanced diet appropriate in calories is vital for maintaining a healthy weight, preventing certain disease states (obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more), and aiding in overall health. But we often overlook the effects of certain foods on sleep quality.
Melatonin is a “sleep hormone” that helps to control your sleep and wake cycle. It is released when the sun goes down and alerts the body that it’s time to wind down. Melatonin supplements are a popular item because you can get them over the counter, but there are also foods that naturally contain melatonin.
- Goji Berries
- Tart Cherries
- Orange Bell Peppers
Lifestyle factors can also affect your sleep habits. Engaging in regular physical activity, limiting sitting and screen time, and finding ways to reduce stress will help to facilitate a regular, healthy sleep pattern.
Other Sleep Tips
- Limit screen time (computer, TV, cell phones) before bed (the light is stimulating to the brain)
- Avoid caffeine 4-5 hours prior to sleep
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed (if hungry, try a light protein-based snack such as a glass of low-fat milk or half of a turkey sandwich)
- Eye masks and earplugs can be useful, especially during travel
- Naps should be kept to less than one hour and not too close to bedtime
Sleep is important for overall health—weight loss/control, recovery, immune health, and cognitive function. Maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and consuming a nutrient-dense, well-balanced diet can help facilitate better sleep quality.
Jill is a Registered Dietitian currently living in Minneapolis. She specializes in sports nutrition and works with athletes of all ages. She is passionate about helping others realize that small changes over time can lead to big results. She started her health & fitness blog RunEatSnap in order to provide quality nutrition information and to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Staying focused is one of the hardest parts of running your own business. Most days my mind is all over the place, from thinking of social posts for a client to redesigning my own website...to "why is my cat throwing up on everything I love?"
So while this is still a work-in-progress for me, I wanted to share what has worked in the past and what I'll be trying again.
PLUS I've designed a very simple daily planner worksheet for you to apply to your own business.
8 Ways to Stay Focused & Stop Procrastinating in Your Business
Use a Timer
If I find myself procrastinating on a specific project, I tell myself I only have to work on it for 10 minutes. Then I set a timer and get to work.
I either get into the groove and work on it longer, or get some work done in that 10 minutes and come back to it later. Most times it's the former. For some reason, just starting the task is the hardest part.
There are specific techniques you can use if you want to get fancy. I've tested the Pomodoro technique for time management after reading Holly's post on balancing work and blogging. But I've also used the basic E.ggtimer.
Batch Similar Tasks
You've probably heard by now that responding to email and checking social media all throughout the day is hurting your productivity.
I've heard this a million times and am still guilty of doing both, but when I DO batch similar tasks together, I get more done.
Think about everything you have to do in a given week, or even just a day, and separate the tasks into similar groups. Designate a few specific times throughout the day where you'll respond to emails, check your phone, and check social media.
If you're a health coach or life coach, lump all of your coaching sessions for the day together, if possible.
Establish a Routine
This is actually one of the hardest ones for me. I have some kind of natural inclination to hate routines, but yet I know how effective they are.
Establishing a routine helps your body and mind get into a groove. It also helps you focus on the task at hand because your day is already planned out.
Make sure to include regular self-care and exercise into your routine. If you make it a habit, you'll see better results overall.
I started writing a paragraph with "My loose routine includes..." but it just made me realize how bad of a job I'm doing lately. The past few weeks I wake up anywhere from 6-8am, get coffee, write for an hour or so if I don't get sidetracked by an email, look at my phone approximately 578 times, dig into client work for about 6 hours, then either drive an hour to Crossfit or continue working until I realize it's 9pm. Somewhere in there I remember to eat. SO, you can see I have a lot to work on myself! I've gone through periods of great discipline and focus, but we all go through these days/weeks/seasons. I promise you.
Keep Your Blood Flowing
Exercise is so important to staying focused. It keeps blood flowing and releases neurotrasmitters that help increase cognitive function.
Schedule in breaks to stretch throughout the day, as well as trying to establish a workout routine. This doesn't mean you have to do the same workout every day, or commit yourself to a specific program like I did. Just setting up any exercise routine will help.
It could be a long walk around your neighborhood or trying different classes at your local gym. Whatever keeps you interested and keeps your blood pumping.
Sometimes blocking out time for tasks isn't enough. You may need to close all open browser tabs, remove your cell phone from your office or install an app that blocks social media channels.
There was a point when I was experimenting with the Pomodoro technique mentioned above, but I still had my phone in my office. While the timer was running I didn't check my phone, but hearing it buzz or light up was still distracting and caused a lot of anxiety knowing I had to wait to look at it. When I completely removed it from sight, it was much easier to forget about.
While I recommend reading and engaging with other bloggers, sometimes it can be distracting from doing your actual work.
Try limiting the number of blogs you read per week or limiting the amount of time you spend reading them. For example, set aside 30 minutes every morning to scroll through your RSS feed and only click on the posts that grab your attention the most. Then mark all as read and move on with your day.
It's true that I get a lot of ideas from reading other blog posts but some of that time would be better spent implementing the things I learned or ideas that were sparked. Most of us spend so much time consuming information and too little time implementing our ideas.
Prioritize Your Tasks
“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” -Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Get organized in the morning (or the night before). Plan out what you need to do that day.
One of my favorite questions is, "What 3 things can I do today that will have the biggest impact on my overall goals?"
Then I also do a brain dump of all my other ideas so I don't lose them. Having everything visually laid out helps me prioritize and gives me more time to think about the smaller ideas. They're still written down, but I have more time to process how much impact they'll really have. Don't just use the brain dump area when you're planning; use it throughout the day as you accomplish your listed tasks, then re-address the ideas later.
One thing I cannot recommend enough is to do the hardest or "worst" task first thing in the morning so it's not zapping your energy and hanging over your head all day.
Below you'll find a simple daily planner I've designed to help you stay organized in the easiest way possible.
Lastly, pause and think about why you're procrastinating on that particular task. If it's taking up too much time (even just mental energy to avoid it), it might be time to outsource it or eliminate it completely.
Is there a deeper reason you're avoiding it? Does your gut tell you it's not the right thing to do? I love this post on how procrastination can be productive.
Ready to stay focused + procrastinate less? Download this super-simple daily planning worksheet to get started today.
Chances are over the next few days you might be returning to your hometown, seeing family you haven't seen in ages, reconnecting with old friends, or even just getting a chance to take a few deep breaths.
This post is just a reminder to be mindful and stay in the moment over the next few days.
Put your phone down at Thanksgiving dinner.
Tell your parents or your grandparents something you're grateful for that they've done. Something that has taught you a lesson or helped you along the way.
On Thanksgiving, don't feel guilty about eating the pie. Just be grateful for the food on the table.
If you don't get to spend this holiday with friends and family, take some time for yourself. Read a novel or spend the day binge watching your favorite show in your pajamas.
Just do something that will make you happy and relaxed.
Not only should you pause to be in the moment with loved ones, but this break is vital to your business success.
Take a moment to think of what you're doing when you get your best ideas, or finally solve a problem you've been struggling with.
You're usually in the shower, or driving, or out on a hike, right? Something that has removed you from the situation and your normal work environment.
It's the end of 2015, so you've likely been reflecting on what you've accomplished this year and planning your goals for 2016. There are probably a million things you'd like to do.
If you pause and remove yourself from the planning and day-to-day work, you'll return with more clarity for the next year.
So let's all pause for clarity.
In September, I took the first real vacation off from work in about three years. Earlier in the summer I had implemented what I call "no-work-weekends," but that's really not enough.
Did you know that studies show after about 50 hours a week, productivity actually starts to go down?
While working less than 50 hours a week isn't realistic for some entrepreneurs, I urge you to schedule vacations and breaks into your life for your sanity, health AND business success. They aren't just luxuries. They are completely necessary.
6 Reasons Vacations are Vital
Your mind needs time to relax in order to foster creativity.
Have you ever found that when you step away from a problem, such as taking a shower, the answer to something you've been working on hits you?
This Huffington Post article claims, "It's been proven that allowing your brain to day-dream allows you to better solve problems and be more creative."
Put things into perspective
If you keep moving full-steam ahead in your business, you can lose track of your intentions and miss signs that things don't feel right. Stepping back gives you the chance to realign.
This past spring/summer I've been in a transitional period in my life + business. Taking time off has allowed me to step back and think about which direction I'd like to go in.
Try new things
Vacations are the perfect opportunity to try new things, and as I mentioned in this post about the secrets to happiness, this is a vital building block of a happy life.
Trying new experiences and surrounding yourself with different environments will help inspire creative solutions inside your business or job.
While I was in Estes Park, CO I tried a few new things, such as hiking in the Rocky Mountains and watching a blue grass performance in the park.
Vacations are also a great way to force yourself to disconnect.
While I still had my phone, I purposely left my laptop at home. I put up auto-responders and warned my clients weeks ahead of time that I would be unavailable. There were a lot of places in the mountains where I didn't even get reception, so that was a bonus.
Because we're constantly connected, there's a decrease in true bonding time with friends and family. Getting out of your normal environment, trying new things and disconnecting will help bring you closer to those you're with.
Improve your health
According to an article in the New York Times, "Those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack."
Plus, hiking in the Rocky Mountains re-inspired me to be more active and return to healthier eating habits. Sometimes we all need a little jump start.
The same article says, "After a few days on vacation — and it usually took two to three — people were averaging an hour more of good quality sleep. And there was an 80 percent improvement in their reaction times."
Better sleep, health, and increased reaction times translate to increased productivity. You'll be able to do more in less time with better focus.
In the Comments:
Where will you go on your next vacation?
Doesn't fall always seem a little exciting? Students are headed back to school, we're all coming off the excitement of summer and ready to get a little more serious. Or...maybe that's just me, while everyone else is thinking about football.
But in case I'm not alone, I wanted to do a quick round-up of my favorite healthy bite snacks to keep us all going!
They're known by a variety of names, but I'll stick with Lindsay's since she's kinda known for them ;-)
Healthy bites are perfect to whip together on a Sunday afternoon so you have a healthy snack to grab through the week. They're super portable, so you can take them to the office, while traveling, etc. Plus, they're so versatile you won't get sick of them.
I love them so much I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them! Below I've chosen 5 of my favorites that don't require food processors. Enjoy!
Healthy Snack Bites Recipe Round-up
This is my go-to:
Image Credit >> Cotter Crunch
In the Comments:
What are your favorite portable healthy snacks?
Running your own business can feel like a whirlwind sometimes. Between client work, working on your business, and trying to fit in time for family and friends, it's easy to let self-care take a back seat. But it's so important to the success of your business and your own fulfillment. You can't help others from an empty tank.
Here are 4 of my favorite tools for staying healthy as a business owner: *These are not affiliate links, just tools I love!
Headspace is an app for guided meditation. I've tried a variety of guided meditations before, but I connected best with this one.
Meditation is the perfect partner for entrepreneurs because it can:
- Improve productivity at work
- Improve creative thinking
- Lower blood pressure / promote relaxation
- Help with insomnia
- Lower anxiety
Those are just a few of the benefits of meditation, of course. If you're interested in learning more from a modern perspective, I highly recommend the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
I don't think I need to tell you guys why it's important to exercise. However, not only is it good for your body, but the increased blood flow to your brain will help in a multitude of ways for your business. Plus, there's a good chance that you sit for long hours in front of the computer each day, so you need to get the blood flowing.
Yoga is one of my favorite ways to move because it can help balance out your mind and your body. I have a new-found love for acroyoga because it's the only exercise that has been able to completely keep me in the moment. When I'm focused on balancing my body and moving through the air with the support of someone else, there is literally no room in my brain to think about anything else.
I can't always make it to a yoga class, though, so I often use online videos. Reflexionyoga.com has been my favorite so far because I can filter through and find a class that fits what I'm in the mood for.
You can get to know the founder Kyle Weiger in this Chasing Dreams Interview.
3. Fitbit Flex
I've been using my Fitbit Flex for nearly 2 years and still love it. I've even kept it on through important business presentations and events. It's basic enough that I don't feel weird wearing it in any situation.
A few ways I use my Fitbit Flex:
- Steps - It was pretty eye-opening to see how little I was walking some days. It's too easy to get caught up sitting in front of the computer working. I can't say I meet my goal most days (10k steps) but I've been improving.
- Alarms - I set an alarm to go off every hour throughout the work day to remind myself to get up and move.
- Water Intake - The default goal in the app is 64 oz, but I upped mine to 85 oz. By tracking my water I've been able to figure out my ideal hydration level.
- Sleep - I usually forget to track my sleep, and when I do it's always alarming how many times I'm restless and awake through the night, but at least it's a good reminder to keep exercising, meditating and focusing on self-care.
Reading is my favorite way to unwind. I think everyone should take time to read fiction or something outside their normal industry daily, or at least weekly.
Benefits of reading fiction:
- Improves empathy
- Enhances connectivity in the brain
- Improves your writing
- Enhances memory
- Boosts analytical thinking
- Reduces stress
You can read my monthly book reviews here:
In the Comments:
What are your favorite tools for staying healthy as an entrepreneur?
Today’s post is from Samantha Russell, blogger and Eating Psychology Coach in training. She approached me with the topic of how mindfulness can help your business, so of course I said YES immediately. I think you'll really enjoy the insight she has to share.
As wellness entrepreneurs we not only want health and wellness for ourselves but for our customers, clients, and patients. One way we can do this is by being wellness role-models. By modelling - with authenticity - actions, thoughts, and beliefs that can really heal, we can do our job at a truly deeper level. One key that will help your health, business, and clients is the practice of ‘slow’.
This idea has been around for a while, and was popularized in the book ‘In Praise of Slow’ by Carl Honoré, and today I’m going to dive into this concept a little and how it can really help you improve not only your own well-being, but that of your wellness business too.
Why ‘go slow’?
There’s a quote from poet Stephen Dobyns that sums up how most of us do our days, “Each thing I do, I rush through so I can do something else.” I know I’ve found myself doing this more than I’d like to admit. I’m sure you have too.
This is no way to live! And it’s certainly no way to be a successful wellness entrepreneur. So, what’s the answer? You guessed it! Going Slow.
So, what does it mean to ‘go slow’?
Well, it doesn’t actually mean that you have to move slowly, or necessarily take more time over things - though in our busy, rushed schedules, this might be a good idea! The core of the ‘slow’ concept is that we should take enough time to be really mindful and present in our lives in all our activities and interactions. Rather than mentally rushing through to get to the next thing, we go mentally slow, focusing on one thing at a time.
Why should I do this? Won’t it just mean I get less done?
Quite the contrary. By being mindful of the present moment and taking as much time as you need to get the job (whatever it may be) done properly, you set yourself up to not only create real quality in you life and business, but to put yourself into a full-body relaxation response.
The benefits of this simply can not be overstated. Coming to life or work from a place of stress sets you up (through increased cortisol, inflammation, decreased calorie burning, and a host of other less than great body responses) to be a lot less than you could be - both in terms of your health and your business performance. When you are relaxed, which is helped a lot by being mindful, present, and slow, you counteract this and can show up in the world with vibrant authenticity.
What are some of the benefits you can expect from ‘going slow’ in life and work?
You can experience improved:
- depth and understanding of yourself and others
- digestion, nutrition, and calorie burning
- mood and stability
There are a ton more benefits, but just that little taster should get you interested. Basically, practicing going slow will help you create the conditions you need to be open to receiving - nutrition, relaxation, clients, inspiration. By being mentally slow and open to the moment, it helps you have your hands open to life.
Ok, let’s get practical.
How can you incorporate some ‘slow’ into your day?
- Mindful eating. I’ve written about this before, and eating is something we can all spend a little more time concentrating on. Our natural tendency as busy entrepreneurs is to ‘grab a bite’ at our desk, on the way home, before bed, before we pick up the kids.... And that’s ok. We can’t always take the time to have a full sit-down meal three times a day. But, we can aim for ONE. And those meals that we do have to eat on the go? Take three deep breaths before you eat (activate your relaxation response), and focus on the food while you eat it. This has the potential to relax, fuel, and nourish you in ways you didn’t know about.
- Movement (not punishing exercise). I’ve also mentioned this in more detail, but the key here is to not only be mindful and conscious of how you exercise, but to move your body in ways that you find fun or pleasurable. This will, again, help you settle into a relaxation response, get more benefits from your physical activity, and therefore be a happier, healthier, you.
- Take breaks. Schedule ‘mindfulness breaks’ throughout your work day. Use a computer timer, or your phone, to remind you to take a break for a minute. You can use this time to do any number of mindfulness exercises – write down something you are grateful for at that moment, go for a walk and get some fresh air, or do a quick calm.com session.
- Build slowly. This is a lot like the mindful eating tip above. In a rush to consume or create, we put ourselves into a stress response and can miss out on being open to a whole lot of new opportunities or ideas. By concentrating on building our business and products in a slow and mindful way, we create the space for even more inspiration and quality. So, try to let go of multi-tasking and instead focus on just one task, area, or project at a time and really get suck into it.
- Stop the focus on “Getting clients” (or whatever it is you need to ‘get’ for your business to work). When we focus on what we need, instead of what we can give, we not only open the door to panic, but we stop living in the moment and worry about the future instead. This is a creativity killer, as well as a perfect way to stress yourself out. If you can, instead, focus on adding value to people’s live and making sure each and every person you have contact with has the best experience you can give them, you business will grow in a beautiful and organic way, without the panic or grasping. When we grasp, we close our hands, and we all know you catch more with your hands open.
- Be comfortable. Create a ‘slow space’ for your work activities, a space that helps you feel relaxed, comfortable, and inspired, but in no hurry to get to the end of the journey. Treat each task as a special job that lets you stay in this awesome space and try to enjoy the process. This could be as simple as putting up a few pictures or quotes that remind you to ‘go slow’, or you could go as far as rearranging or redecorating your office space. Personally, I have a copy of ‘Desiderata’ on my wall, and that reminds me to slow down and see the beauty in whatever I do.
As I’m sure you know, in your personal and business life, these things both mirror each other and feed into each other. Your practice of mindfulness, wellness, and self-care will spill over into your business, and and vice-versa, setting you up for a slow and steady loop of success. I hope these ideas and practical suggestions help you start, or advance, on your journey to a happy and mindful life and business.
Samantha Russell is the blogger and Eating Psychology Coach in training behind the wellness blog Live the Whole. She writes about all aspects of holistic health and well-being and loves to help people learn about themselves and how they can live a whole life. She has a particular passion for stress-reduction and management and how it can help people achieve their health and life goals.
In the comments:
How have you practiced a little ‘slow’ in you personal or business life this week?
Today's post is from Sophie Crooks, a Tasmanian based blogger and coach. She has important insight to share on the importance of self-care for entrepreneurs. The topic is very timely as I'm starting to re-prioritize self-care in my own life. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As an entrepreneur you are most likely familiar already with the concept of Return of Investment or ROI. For those that aren’t you are probably already applying it but just by a different name. Do you look at your to do list each day and pick your priorities depending on which ones will reap the most profit or rewards in return for your dedicated time? If so then you are running your business by the Return of Investment principle.
It is a great practice for women running an online business. We are so surrounded by distractions and things that seem important, maybe because other entrepreneurs are doing them, but aren’t really that important to our own unique business and brand. Keeping your primary focus on what will have the biggest ROI for your business is a major key to entrepreneurial success.
But while the ROI actions you take in your business are undeniably important, there is one mistake I see women make again and again and that is to think of Return of Investment as purely short-term profits. What will make you money in the next week, month or year. Maybe you even have a five or ten year plan of the things you will do to keep that financial freedom rolling in.
That is awesome! Do not stop doing that.
Instead I’m encouraging you to make a tweak to the ROI principle, just a simple mindset shift that can take it from being a great money success tool to a great life success tool.
Limiting your ROI plans to purely money making activities will hold you back in the long run. You need to begin to think of self-care as something that will have an equal return of investment to any actual work you do on your business.
As a woman seeking success in her business you want to do it all. Accept every opportunity, win every potential client over, give everyone the help they want.
So you start doing as much as you can. You get up extra early, work late, skip the gym, and fuel yourself on sugary snacks. You ignore the book you’ve been dying to read on your bedside table, you rush through your showers, throw on whatever clothes are quickest and easiest. You let the clutter build around you, your yoga mat collect dust and ignore those new meditation tracks on your phone.
Your focusing on the tasks that will bring in the profits and make your business a success money wise, but is the picture of your life pretty?
Return of Investment can cover many things. By thinking of it as purely about money you can quickly find yourself stressed, experiencing low energy and bad nights sleep. The face in the mirror may seem suddenly haggard, or a task that used to be no problem is now making you out of breathe.
This situation will quickly lead to you resenting your business. I’m guessing you got into this work to create a lifestyle that made you come alive. Instead without prioritizing self care you can quickly feel like you’ve been dragged back into the rat race. If you keep pushing along this path you’re risking complete burn out or worse, a major health crisis.
Entrepreneurs that don’t see self-care as something that will yield a return of investment eventually learn the hard way when a mental breakdown or health issue leaves them unable to work for months at a time. Having to disappear from your business for months will have a far worse effect on your ROI than just taking a couple of extra hours a day for self care.
Imagine if you prioritized self care as much as your most important business tasks. What would it be like if each morning when you planned your day you listed time for getting some fresh air and exercise, time to make that healthy lunch, time to finally have that long overdue hairdressers appointment, time to relax with that book. How excited would you be about your day if these tasks were side by side with emailing that sponsor, writing that guest post and working on your upcoming webinar.
When you practice regular self care as a ROI activity your energy will improve, your mental state will be more calm and focused, you will feel confident and sexy when you look in the mirror or take that time to dress in nice clothes. You won’t feel instantly stressed as you sit down at your desk because you take the time to declutter and organize. When you look at how healthy and relaxed your fellow entrepreneurs seem you will no longer resent them and wonder how they do it because you’ll be healthy and relaxed too.
It pays to take care of yourself. Even if it seems okay to let the self care slide because money is coming in, that flow requires your consistent love and attention and you can’t show your business consistent love and attention if you don’t show yourself also. The more you practice self care the more returns of investment you’ll find as you grow in energy, confidence, health and mental calm to be able to handle anything that comes your way.
Growing up, I only heard massages spoken of as luxury services and sometimes even frowned upon as frivolous. I remember for my 20th birthday I decided to treat myself to a massage and facial and thought that was a huge deal. Over the past few years I've been experiencing increased general muscle tension, high levels of stress, and some repetitive stress injuries from working on the computer. Massage therapy has been the only thing that has made a real difference so far, so I'm definitely a firm believer now. I try to go at least once a month. I still haven't gotten to a maintenance point yet (each therapist shrieks and tells me how bad the knots are....ugh!) but eventually I will.
So today I feel obligated to share the benefits of massage therapy. As entrepreneurs, we deal with high levels of stress from the roller-coaster nature of our trade to the long hours we sit hunched at a computer. If you're like me, you'll finally look up from your laptop and realize it's 9pm and you haven't eaten and may not even know what day it is. But I digress...
Self-care is absolutely vital to living a healthy life, let alone running a successful business.
If you want to learn more about what massage therapy is and the different types, click here.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
- Increases blood flow
- Promotes relaxation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves posture
- Improves circulation
- Promotes deeper and easier breathing
- Improves flexibility and range of motion
- Relieves headaches
- Strengthens the immune system by increasing white blood cells
- Reduces pain and inflammation
- Increases alertness
- Reduce symptoms associated with PMS such as bloating and mood swings
- Improves sleep by affecting delta waves in the brain (those connected with deep sleep)
- Helps to manage depression and anxiety by lowering the stress hormone cortisol and increasing serotonin and dopamine
- Relieve symptoms associated with cancer treatment
Now let's look at some stats:
Do you get regular massages? What's your #1 reason for going?
My sleep was interrupted by squiggly, flashing bursts of light, slowly growing in intensity. I managed to fall back to sleep until about 7am when my pounding head demanded attention. I took some medicine and drank coffee (usually helps the medicine kick in faster). Then I made a huge mistake. I got ready for a day of errands and went on my way, despite a protesting head. By the time I got to Destin, about 45 minutes away, the flashing aura was back and my head was going into migraine-round-2. Generally when I get a migraine I need to hibernate in a dark, quiet room for a minimum of 4 hours. I've been getting them since I was about 8, and I get the aura that lets me know one is coming, so I should know to listen to my body by now. A lot of my migraines are caused by stress, not eating enough, not sleeping enough, overwhelming my senses (perfume, bright fluorescent lights), etc. I've been doing so much better lately, but this was my body's plea for a break.
Listen to your body. Physical symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, changes in sleep, changes in digestion, lack of energy and changes in appetite are just a few of the more obvious signs that your body is trying to communicate that something is wrong. Something needs attention.
So, here are some of my plans for managing my stress.
8 Stress Reducing Ideas
- 10 minutes of meditation per day
- I've been reading up on meditation a lot lately and am fascinated by its ability to change your body on a cellular level. I downloaded the app Headspace to help me get started but plan to try a few others before spending money. (Headspace has a free 10 day beginners intro that I've really enjoyed it so far.)
- Keep a gratitude journal
- I am a big fan of gratitude journals. These have also been proven to help with stress and joyfulness. I plan to keep it simple by writing 3-5 things I'm grateful for at the end of each day.
- Construct better boundaries around work time
- It can be challenging to set boundaries (for myself and for clients) since I work from home. The next few months will be super busy, so I plan to stop working no later than 7pm each night and reserve weekends for myself. This is also challenging because I'm supporting two people and building my business, but the goal is to relax and clear my mind so I can be more efficient during work hours.
- Saturday digital detoxes
- Eventually I'd love to have the whole weekend be free of my smart phone, but for now I'll try for most Saturdays. (I'm writing this on a Saturday...so...this one will take some work!)
- Increase yoga and exercise
- For me, this includes all movement, such as long daily walks outside, strength training and yoga.
- Focus on quality sleep
- I'll be removing my cell phone and any other electronics from the bedroom (except for my Kindle, but that doesn't count, right?).
- Limit sugar and caffeine
- Both are known to aggravate anxiety and stress.
- Utilize herbs and essential oils
- I love this Yogi Stress Relief Tea and Dr. Teal's Chamomile epsom salt. I also have lavender essential oil and body lotion.
I'm listing these as ideas rather than a concrete plan because I need to work with my body to figure out what it needs. Adding another to-do list won't be helpful.
What signs does your body give you when you need to slow down? What are your go-to stress relievers?
We've all heard "less is more," but it's a powerful little statement when put to the test. After completing a "get rid of 100 things challenge" recently, I realized simplifying can, and should, be applied to many other aspects in life. I've also found that the more I simplify, the easier and more refreshing it becomes. I run my business from my home and noticed a connection between my physical environment and my mental state and productivity. This was the biggest motivator to get started. Once I started, I didn't want to stop. It soon went from "do I need these items in my home," to "how can I streamline my business?" and "who can I hire who actually enjoys doing this task?"
Here are just a few ideas you can simplify your life:
- Declutter your home. Start with one room at a time and make piles for: sell, donate, recycle and throw out. When you have less stuff cluttering up your home, you'll spend less time cleaning and will feel more mental space open up.
- Declutter AGAIN. It will be easier the second time around, and you'll be more accustomed to asking yourself, "Do I really need this?" and "Does someone else need this more than I do?"
- Simplify your body care routine. Can one item serve multiple purposes? For example, I use coconut oil as a makeup remover, face lotion and body lotion.
- Plan your errands to save time. Avoid high traffic areas and times of day if possible.
- Plan your meals and prep food on Sundays (or whichever day is best for you). You'll save time and have healthy food on hand.
- Plan your day and batch similar tasks together.
- Make your own cleaning products. You'll be surprised how many things you can clean with vinegar, baking soda and dish soap.
- If you have multiple pets, take them to the vet at the same time. Most vets will offer a discount.
- Invest in people, software, etc. to do the tasks you absolutely hate. You'll save mental energy in addition to time.
- Put things away when you're done with them or take 10 minutes at the end of each day to tidy up.
- When you take your clothes off, either hang them up or put them in a (sorted) laundry basket.
- Limit time on social media networks.
- Take time away from technology. Reconnect with nature and yourself.
- Develop a nighttime and a morning routine.
- Stop multi-tasking. You'll be more efficient if you focus on one task.
- Live intentionally and examine your goals often. What do you really want to achieve? How do you want to feel?
- Put more thought into each item you purchase.
- Learn when and how to say no. Respect your time.
- Focus on quality rather than quantity.
- Automate your bills, opt for paperless billing and do as much banking online as possible.
- Organize your digital files and auto-backup your hard drive.
- Take a few minutes to unsubscribe from all emails you don't need, or use a program like unroll.me. Those 40% emails are tempting, but that's part of the problem.
- Separate work from home life if possible. Stop checking your work emails from your phone.
- Check email at designated times, like twice per day.
- Exercise and eat healthfully. Both of these will give you more energy, thought clarity and save you time and money dealing with health issues.
- Leave a time window around your commitments for decompressing and unanticipated issues.
- Use something like Evernote to keep all of your ideas, lists, business cards, etc. in one place.
- Use the cloud to eliminate USB drives, emailing things to yourself, etc.
- Keep your kitchen clutter-free and inviting so you're more likely to cook.
- Keep your cell phone, laptop, exercise equipment, etc. out of the bedroom so it's a clear relaxation and sleep zone.
- Spend time volunteering. It will make you appreciate what you have.
- Stop being busy for the sake of being busy. Take time for yourself and learn to relax.
- Ask others for help and delegate when it makes sense. Instead of splitting chores 50/50, talk about which person is better or enjoys which tasks the most.
- Don't shop unless you need something and avoid buying things that aren't on your list.
- Start a gratitude practice. At the end of each day, write down 3 things you're grateful for.
- Try things before you buy them. You can get numerous cookbooks from the library or borrow something from a friend.
- Focus on experiences. One of my favorite simple quotes is, "Collect moments, not things." -Aarti Khurana.
- Let go of guilt and embrace forgiveness.
Which are your favorite ways to simplify? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
Nothing will test your patience quite like flying. And in my case, traveling for business in general. I love the idea of traveling, but I'm a very anxious person. Navigating layovers, delayed flights, airport shuttles to hotels, etc. is exhausting and leaves my nerves feeling fried. Follow that up with a business dinner, and I'm almost guaranteed to get overwhelmed.
Everything went smoothly Monday, but I still found myself anxiously awaiting the moment I got to head back home. It didn't help that I realized I had forgotten my laptop charger and notepad. I couldn't follow the yoga video I had planned to use, couldn't get ahead on a project I had on my mind and felt unprepared for the meetings that week. Basically I felt even less in control.
Realizing that I spend so much of my focus during business trips on the moment I get to leave was eye opening. I've never been to Tampa before, so why was I letting my anxiety ruin it? I could think of other trips where I had done the same thing.
Monday night I tossed and turned almost all night. I had a bad case of RLS and/or severe anxiety over nothing in particular. Running on 2.5 hours of sleep, I managed to make it through a day of meetings on Tuesday. (This is partly due to fueling my body with green juice and a big spinach salad at lunch.) After the meetings I had a little time before dinner, so I knew I had to do something to refocus and feel centered.
I decided to give meditation a try.
You have to understand, this isn't something I'm accustomed to doing. I always mean to meditate, but never quite get there. I was so overwhelmed + exhausted I felt like I had no other choice, though. I closed my eyes, sitting cross legged with palms up. I focused on breathing deeply and repeated a few positive affirmations or mantras in my head. After about 10 minutes, I could feel my body starting to lighten. The anxiety and stress was melting away.
I grounded myself by thinking about everything I had to be grateful for in that moment and letting go of all the things I couldn't control.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening- I had already been at the airport for 3 hours and my laptop battery was running out. My flight was delayed for a third time and everyone around me was starting to get angry. I overheard phone conversations with people saying the delays were ridiculous- they'd been traveling since that morning from Seattle, blah blah blah.
I was irritated too. My body hurt from traveling only a few days before, my mind was fried from meetings + very little sleep, and I was anxious being surrounded by so many people. I sent a text to my fiance complaining about the flight, and immediately after hitting send I realized how ridiculous I was being. I was acting so incredibly ungrateful, again. It's amazing that we're able to fly across the country in a few hours. It's a blessing that the airline was being cautious because of weather.
So, like any normal person, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and tried to meditate in the airport. I needed to clear my head, center myself and be present. The present situation wasn't the best, but so what? In a way, I was secretly thankful for the break. I couldn't do any work, and could read my book without feeling guilty.
We rush around so much and get upset when our plans get interrupted. "I don't have time for this!" But what if we could be more flexible? What if we could just be? Just exist. Be thankful.
To me, being present is about realizing what you can control and what you can't. It's about appreciating the wonders of life in this moment. Taking in your surroundings and being aware of yourself.
Everything these days is go-go-go. We live in a society that celebrates being busy and stressed.But what is that stress really costing you? Exhaustion, quick meals and no time to play aren't leaving you fulfilled, that's for sure.
When you feel your best, you'll do your best. Start carving out personal time to recharge and you'll be surprised to find you accomplish more work during a shorter period of time.
Here are 27 simple ways to recharge your batteries:
2. Go to a Paint Nite with your girl friends and drink a little too much wine.
3. Plan a swap with your closest friends or even with a MeetUp.com group. This can be a clothes swap, book swap, or any theme you can think of!
4. Get out in nature. Nothing is more refreshing than some time outdoors! Look up new hiking trails online or spend the day at the beach.
5. Connect with your inner child. What did you love doing when you were little? Draw a picture, make a collage, build a fort.
6. Volunteer at a local animal shelter or even adopt a new pet from a shelter.
7. Try something new. Go rock climbing, try a foreign cuisine or simply read a book you wouldn't normally choose.
8. Clean out your closets and any clutter around your house and donate to Goodwill. Your energy feeds off of your environment, so tidy up!
9. Plan your next vacation. The thrill of having something to look forward to will keep your going for awhile.
10. Light candles and take a bath with essential oils or Epsom salt. The Epsom salt will relax your muscles, and essential oils like chamomile or lavender will relax your body and mind.
11. Take a mental health day from work. Watch your favorite movies, meet up with a friend, walk around your neighborhood, see a matinee movie. Sometimes being "bad" is just what you need.
12. Recreate your favorite fancy, decadent restaurant meal at home. Chances are it'll taste much better when it's made with an ingredient list you control and some love.
13. Plant a garden. This idea will recharge you more than once. You'll feel good creating life, saving money on food and you'll get time to yourself out in nature every time you need to tend to it.
14. Rearrange your furniture. A new environment will likely bring new ideas and perspectives.
15. Budget money to get a quick 10 minute shoulder, neck + head massage once a week, or a 30-60 minute massage once a month. Massages increase circulation, activate your lymph nodes to regulate hormones and help you relax.
16. Start a bucket list.Thinking about your goals in life will help you focus on the big picture and what will truly make you happy.
17. Create something. Work on one of those projects you've neglected on your Pinterest board. Make it a Pinterest party by inviting friends.
18. Make a playlist of all of your favorite songs. Play them at home or take a drive and sing along at the top of your lungs.
19. Go to your local farmer's market and talk with the farmers and people at the booths. You'll feel great connecting with your community + learning where your food comes from.
20. Plan a date night. Chances are, if you have kids or a demanding job, you haven't been on a proper date in quite awhile. Here are 20 fun date ideas. If you're not in a relationship, take a friend! Try to make it a weekly ritual and take turns planning the date.
Daily Tips for a quick recharge:
21. Take a 20 minute cat nap.
22. Drink a green juice or smoothie when you start feeling the afternoon slump.
23. Set an alarm for each hour to remind yourself to get up and move around.
24. Get outside during lunch. Take a walk, eat outside, go to a local cafe. The main point is to get away from the office and your computer screen.
25. Meditate. There are tons of apps you can download to help you focus, but simply sitting or laying down for 15 minutes can help you relax before you dig back into your work.
26. Take a shower. If you're stuck on an idea or frustrated after a hard day, a shower will give you a chance to relax and rethink your situation.
27. Exercise! Aim for 30 minutes of medium-high intensity exercise every day. It doesn't have to be all at once. Regular exercise will help regulate hormones (hello, endorphins!), increase circulation and often helps people clear their minds and reduce stress.
What are your favorite ways to recharge? Share in the comments below!
Whether you're in school, working in the corporate world or running your own business, I'm a supporter of mental health days. These aren't days where you skip out on responsibility just because you feel like it. These are days when you can't focus, feel exhausted and know you need a break.
Taking a day off is especially challenging for entrepreneurs. Each hour we don't work, we miss out on money. Most entrepreneurs don't take vacation days, personal days, or sick days for the first 1-3 years while they're getting their business up and running. It took me almost a full year to feel comfortable taking a 3 day vacation, and I still scramble to make up the hours and feel guilty for not being available for my clients.
There was a day last month when I knew I needed a mental health day. I woke up feeling down, irritable and unmotivated. My writing was uninspired, so I worked on little tasks. I had two appointments (dentist and orthopedist) who both told me my pain is caused from stress. I'm grinding my teeth at night (despite wearing a mouth guard) and irritating my tendinitis by working too much. (Stress and working too much are likely not the cause of my tendinitis, but is keeping it inflamed.)
So I took the day off, for the most part. I tried to exercise to boost endorphins and then ended up going to our local frozen yogurt bar and ate nothing but sugar for dinner. I read a new book on my kindle and took 2 naps. But you know what? By 8pm I felt rejuvenated. Was it just a hormonal thing? Or did taking the afternoon to relax help? It's hard to say, but when I woke up the next morning inspired and raring to go- I didn't care which it was that helped me.
I know there's a lot of advice out there saying that the only way to make it as an entrepreneur is to push through the days you don't feel like working, write even if you're uninspired, etc. I want to challenge that just a little.
[Tweet "Take days off to get re-motivated + rejuvenated. Mental health days are vital."]
Do something different from your normal routine.
If you're sick, take the time off to get better. Build vacations into your schedule. Block them out in advance. Set your blog and social media posts up in advance, or ask for some guest post while you're out.
You NEED this time. It's too easy to burn out, between trying to keep up with writing, advertising, connecting, learning.
Stop feeling guilty for taking time off. New experiences and relaxation open you up to new ideas and possibilities, and those are what will take your business to the next level.
Do you take mental health days? If you're an entrepreneur, how do you handle vacation time?
Before you grab that pint of Ben & Jerry's, pop a Xanax or hit the mall, take a few deep breaths and try one of the options below. Chances are "retail therapy" will only leave you more stressed, because according to this Washington Post article, "73% of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level." In fact, "54% of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives." It sounds like everyone could use a few pick-me-ups! The following options are free or low cost techniques you can start applying immediately:
Get Physical: 1. Take a walk and feel the sun on your face. 2. Practice yoga. 3. Run, bike, swim, dance- anything that makes you sweat. "Runner's High" is from a rush of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that will improve your mood and act as a pain reliever.
Entice the Senses: 4. Burn an aromatherapy candle 5. Dab lavender or chamomile essential oils on your wrists 6. Drink soothing tea like chamomile. 7. Chew (sugar-free) gum. This has been connected with relieving cortisol, a stress hormone. 8. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate. 9. Sip a nutrition-filled green smoothie. The sweetness will be comforting while the nutrients will help keep your body on track.
Slow Down and Relax: 10. Take a bath with Epsom salt (Epsom salt with chamomile essential oil is my favorite!) 11. Meditate, even if it's as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on a few deep breaths. 12. Take a time out with a warm shower. 13. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing one muscle group at a time. 14. Take a short break from technology- namely your Smart Phone.
Connect With Others: 15. Call an old friend or family member. Talking to someone else can help you put things in perspective, laugh, reminisce about the past, or relieve stress just through venting. 16. Pet an animal. 17. Smile, even if it's forced. 18. Snuggle, kiss or simply hug a loved one to relieve stress hormones and increase positive feelings.
Other Options: 16. Write out your feelings. Burn them later if it'll help you let go. 20. For on-going relief, start a gratitude journal. Writing just a few things every day that you're thankful for has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the writer's happiness. 21. Put it in perspective. Make a list of immediate actions you can take and the things you can't change. 22. Find video clips on YouTube that make you laugh. 23. Sing loudly to your favorite tunes
What's your favorite way to immediately reduce stress? Share it in the comments below to help others!
A version of this post appeared first on MindBodyGreen. See all of my MBG posts here.
Happy has been on my list of documentaries to watch for quite some time. I finally got around to it a few days ago, and have to say it's one of my new favorites! It was full of interesting facts, theories and kept my attention the whole time.Here's some of what I took away:
50% set point / range (genetic): this is the general range of happiness we're all born with 10% circumstances: income, social status, where you live, age 40% intentional activity (this is just a theory): things we can do on a regular basis to become happier
Isn't that interesting to think that your circumstances only make up 10% of your happiness? It provides hope for those born into unfavorable circumstances. The 'set range' of happiness we're all said to be born with also makes a lot of sense to me. Some people are just eternally upbeat. The leading psychologists studying happiness theorize that the remaining 40% is more under our control. We can do things to make ourselves happier.
The most important type of intentional activity to increase happiness is to constantly vary what you do. Try new things often, even if it's something as simple as trying a new coffee shop or trying a new sport. We inevitably adapt to every new situation, no matter how wonderful or bleak.
Happiness is controlled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. We slowly lose dopamine synapses starting in our teenage years, so we need to seek out experiences that release dopamine. Physical activity is one of the best, especially if you do it in novel ways. Have you wondered why there's an increase in themed 5k races like The Color Run, mud runs and zombie runs?
Another important key to happiness is experiencing "flow." In the documentary this was described as "the psychology of optimal experience...the synergy of aspects of consciousness." It's often something that requires you to be fully present, like playing an instrument, rock climbing or cooking a complex meal. When you're proficient enough at the activity, you almost intuitively know moment by moment what you have to do, so you fall into the flow of actions. People describe it as feeling in control and forgetting their worries. I could see it as a disconnect from the ego and the ultimate way of being present. Researchers have found that people who experience flow on a regular basis are happier than those who don't.
Researchers found that those who can recover from adversity more quickly than others also tend to be happier. Negative experiences affect everyone, but these people are able to move on more quickly.
You've probably heard that money doesn't buy happiness. Well, that statement turns out to be both true and false. The difference in happiness levels between an annual income of $5k and $50k is dramatic, but $50k vs. $500k doesn't make much of a difference. And remember, you'll make the most of that money if you're using it to experience new things like traveling to a new country. Earlier I mentioned that you will adapt to your situation. This is also true for the more money you have. It's called hedonic adaptation: "whatever level of material goods and wealth you have, you will adapt to it and want/need more to get the good feeling."
So other than new experiences, how can we achieve more happiness and life satisfaction?
- Having intrinsic goals vs. extrinsic goals. These are in opposition with each other. Intrinsic goals are those related to personal growth, community contributions and meaningful relationships. These people report more satisfaction, less depression and less anxiety. (The exact opposite of what is reported by those with materialistic goals.)
- Having compassion. To experience compassion, try starting a gratitude journal (once a week vs. every day even makes a difference), increase your acts of kindness, start volunteering, etc. Acts of kindness are the most effective compassion tool to increase happiness.
In summary, the documentary states that these are the building blocks of happiness:
"Happiness is not just about feeling more blissful. Happier people tend to function better, be more productive and even live longer."
I highly recommend watching the full documentary to learn more. These are just some of the highlights!
Have you seen 'Happy?' What did you think?