Question: How do you balance physical/mental health with the demanding job of being a startup founder?
Question by: Susan
Carve Out Me Time
"Being a startup founder is an immersed, adsorbent experience. I've found that the only viable strategy is to set definite times for myself (e.g. work out, walk my puppy) and treat those appointments with the same punctuality and attentiveness as you would a meeting with your advisors. Really. Don't flake on yourself—you have one body and you need it to be healthy and happy to succeed."
Limit the Caffeine!
"Coffee or energy drinks may seem like the panacea for productivity for startup founders, but it's not an ideal long-term strategy for health and balance. Doctors agree that while a cup o' Joe every now and then is fine, too much can lead to anxiety and disrupted sleep—both counter-productive for success as an entrepreneur! Listen to your body: if you need sleep, don't feel bad about getting it."
It Pays to Play!
"I have a few fun and creative outlets that help me get out of the stressful business mental space after a long day. I started volunteering for an organization called Playworks that puts volunteers on the playground at elementary schools to help the kids engage in healthy play. I get to play dodgeball, foursquare and tetherball and it is the best release—and the kids love having adults come!"
"I think what's hard for entrepreneurs is finding time to drive to the gym and work out. I just didn't have time for that so I started making up bite-sized ways to exercise. For example, walking while I was on team or personal calls. I ask some clients that come for a meeting if they'd like to step out and walk while we talk. Take the stairs, park far away from the building—it all adds up!"
"We all know how important healthy eating and exercise are, but I believe that spending time with friends is just as important for charging a founder's batteries. Fun events for entrepreneurs such as Summit Series allow you to kill two birds with one stone—getting some valuable networking time in for your business while goofing off and having fun. "
Focus on What's Important
"Being the founder of a startup takes every ounce of energy and brainpower that one can muster. However, you still need to focus on what's important. Prioritize your day and make sure to include work time, friend/family time and you time. It's easier said than done but in doing so, you'll be much more satisfied thus allowing you to bring even more to your business."
Maintain a Morning Routine
"Almost every morning, I spend at least an hour praying, reading my Bible and preparing my mind and heart for the day. Five days a week, I take time to exercise. Then every evening, I journal to reflect on the day and to release any worries, concerns or hurts. These three essential routines keep me incredibly resilient, focused and peaceful."
"I start my week with "bliss moments" every Monday: things I like to do, outside of running a successful portfolio of companies. I shop, take my dog to the park, go to the gym, plan trips, and pray often. It's considered "me time" and it enables me to start strong and reward myself for reaching my daily goals and balance out the demands of entrepreneurship."
Be Honest with Yourself
"There are going to be days where all you're going to want to do is work—you'll want to skip exercise, dinner, hanging out with friends and everything else. You need to decide what the minimum steps you can take to maintain your physical and mental health and make sure you do them every day, no matter what. Minimums will get you through crunch time until you can be a little more balanced."
Regular Exercise and Breaks
"I try to take a walk or spend some time on my exercise bike every day. Exercise helps to de-stress, and time away from the computer helps me clear my head and think about solutions to our problems or challenges."
Cuddles From a Pet
"If having a pet helps elderly people live longer, healthier lives, then having a dog or a cat around the home office definitely helps lower stress levels. Plus, having to walk your dog twice daily is the perfect excuse to get some time away from your desk—and a little sunshine and exercise too."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.