Taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of business
From work-free weekends to hot yoga, entrepreneurs share their secrets for keeping energy up and stress down.
Our blog series on issues in entrepreneurship features 36|86 insiders exploring topics including innovation as a catalyst for social change, the importance of women’s voices in the startup economy, and why community is critical.
As entrepreneurs, how do you make sure business stays on track when you need a break?
I feel like we all have anxiety attacks when we’re truly out of reach from our business. I get it! But here are a few things you can do to give yourself a break:
Block out solo time on your calendar so it’s a part of your schedule. Knowing that you can work before and after will allow you to relax and truly take that break. And the crazy part is, if you take that break, you will come back amplified and much more engaged in your business. If you don’t take that break, you’ll be less productive.
Also, it’s OK to ask for help. I know I can ask my cofounder Makenzie Stokel to cover for me if I need a break. Then I get out and reset for a bit. And I do the same for her.
For most startups, the founder is the only person working in and on the business. If you don’t have that second-in-command to oversee everything while you take a mental break, you must have processes in place to give yourself a few hours out of the day. Make weekends work-free to rest and recharge. A foggy mind can wreak havoc on your mental acuity.
The tech and startup communities perpetuate the unhealthy myth of the founder who doesn’t sleep and works excessive hours. This is unhealthy and counterproductive.
First, founders must develop the self-awareness to realize that they’re approaching burnout. Recognize the physical, mental, and emotional signs. Second, founders must build capacity around them, instead of being the origin of all activity.
The strength of your team is essential and they must be informed and empowered enough to take on increasing more of the workload.
Burnout is now an official medical diagnosis from the World Health Organization. As founders, how seriously can you relate?
It’s important for us as a community to change the way we think about “working hard.” People tend to feel validated if they appear to be very busy — I struggle with this, too. But if we don’t take the time to rest and retreat, burnout can happen very quickly. I can totally relate.
I know that if I hadn’t discovered the value of my personalized morning routine of meditation, solitary time, and getting outside, I would be in a much worse place. Taking the time for myself enables me to refuel and stay afloat.
And it’s not easy, of course. I get off track all the time. But then I remind myself that it’s OK. All we can do is get up and start the refueling process again.
Burnout is a relatable subject. From a medical perspective, I have the opportunity to view burnout in various stages, so I know what to look for. It is very important for founders to recognize how burnout presents itself in their lives and deal with it accordingly. The effects of burnout can have negative consequences for all involved.
I can relate directly. One aspect of my burnout stage was drastically affected sleep patterns. For a period of two years, I could not achieve sleep deep enough to dream. Stress and anxiety kept me semi-awake, despite feeling physically exhausted. As a result, my short-term memory, communication, and even my decision-making abilities were affected.
Name your top 3 #startuplife self-care tips.
1. After a long day I go to hot yoga, take a long walk, or watch a thought- provoking, creative documentary. Then a self-provided facial — always.
2. Meal prep for the week. I rarely am able to rock this as much as I would like, but nothing feels better than fueling your body correctly throughout the day. The first thing we tend to let go when working on our startup is quality fuel for our bodies.
3. I have a personalized morning routine of either yoga or running, then meditation or gratitude journaling. When I start the day peacefully and truly for myself, I see a huge difference in how I handle difficult situations that come flying at me in my business throughout the day. We constantly hear it: “If you don’t run your day, someone or something else will.”
1. Take a break everyday and do something that is not work-related. I like to go for walks.
2. Treat yourself to some pampering at least once or twice a month. I love massages.
3. Spend time with family and friends. It’s so easy to neglect your personal life when you’re building a business. You must be intentional with this one, because it not only affects you but your family, as well.
1. Exercise. Find a way to exert yourself physically on a regular basis (distance running is my outlet).
2. Do for others. Mentally check out of your world long enough to volunteer and help someone else with their world.
3. A sympathetic ear. Check in with members of your tribe who understand what you’re experiencing (mentors, fellow founders).