UEL’s 4-Part Series Focusing on Health & Wellness for Entrepreneurs – Part 2
Recognizing Signs of Unhealthy Decisions & Why They Matter — Second in the Series
As any coach or competitive athlete will tell you, success starts in the mind, followed by being prepared along with consistent and proper training. The same is true as an entrepreneur. Although – we all know athletes are better at this process than are entrepreneurs.
Lori Webb writes in a recent article for Ellevate Network, titled Why Solo Entrepreneurs Desperately Need to Prioritize Wellness Training[i], shares these thoughts; “Since entrepreneurs are notorious for ignoring their own well-being, it is appropriate to take a look at well-being in an entrepreneurial context.
Pressure and entrepreneurship seem to go hand-in-hand, along with a propensity to ignore health and wellness. The stress is real and the calling is not always fun. The result can be costly for your health, time, energy, income, peace of mind, relationships, and life.” Webb continues … “Like athletes, the physical and mental health of entrepreneurs needs to be fortified for sustainable performance. Entrepreneurs should consciously be making improvements to overall endurance, ability to overcome challenges (physical and mental), strength, resiliency, and impact. Entrepreneurship demands regular and intense commitment, energy, and use of one’s faculties.”
Led by Dr. Michael Freeman, a team of entrepreneurship researchers from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco completed a study of the personality, mood, and human factors that are common among entrepreneurs. Their findings are presented in the report entitled Are Entrepreneurs Touched with Fire?[ii]
The research investigated the prevalence and characteristics of mental health conditions among entrepreneurs and their first-degree family members.
“In this study, 242 entrepreneurs and 93 demographically matched comparison participants took an anonymous on-line self-report survey to assess their engagement in entrepreneurship, and their individual and family mental health history.
Self-reported mental health concerns were present across 72% of the entrepreneurs in this sample, a proportion that was significantly higher than that of the comparison group.
The findings of this study are important because they suggest an underlying relationship between entrepreneurship and many of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral differences associated with mental health conditions.”
Living the life of an entrepreneur, knowing the stress and abuse we put our bodies through, is not the same as being aware of that stress and abuse. So now what?
You should know if you are making healthy choices for yourself, but if you don’t take stock of these symptoms of unhealthy behavior. If you are guilty of multiples of these, you are doing healthy-entrepreneur wrong.
- Sitting for long hours at a time
- Bad posture from sitting down all day
- Working long hours
- You take no “me time”
- You don’t take breaks
- Unsociable/lack of community
- Eating food on-the-go
- Eating excessive sugar, dairy, gluten, yeast, processed food or soda
- Bad sleep practices
- Burning the candle at both ends – work hard/party hard
- Too little exercise
- You feel mentally and physically exhausted
With the hours typically worked by an entrepreneur, a routine that includes trips to a health club are probably not going to be in your reality. Consider these alternatives to a gym membership.
Take a look at 5 Health Habits These Successful Entrepreneurs Swear By[iii]:
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and Square meditates for 30 minutes each day. Mindfulness helps to clear your head so you can focus more efficiently throughout the day. It reduces stress and anxiety, as well.
- Avram Miller, former corporate VP of business development at Intel, and current board vice chairman of Sommetrics, swears by the value of sleep. Missing out on sleep can make you irritable, less productive and more susceptible to various illnesses. And …loss of sleep can even intensify physical pain.
- Best-selling author and blogger Seth Godin has the same thing for breakfast every day: a smoothie made from frozen bananas, hemp powder, almond milk, dried plums, and walnuts. Eating a complete breakfast loads you up with the energy and nutrients you need to think clearly and work harder throughout the day. Eating healthier is also a habit we can all get behind, since nutrition and productivity are closely linked.
- Shark Tank host and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tries to do at least an hour of cardiovascular exercise a day, six or seven days a week. Don’t panic – the body needs only 75 to 150 minutes of activity per week to get the health benefits exercise offers, so the consistency is what matters most.
- Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, gets up at 6 a.m. every day giving her an hour just for herself. Nabbing some time to yourself, before you get sucked into your career or familial responsibilities, can help you stay in good mental health and feel relaxed enough to conquer whatever challenges the day has in store for you.
While it’s beneficial to take inspiration from the most successful entrepreneurs, and it’s fun to say ‘Mark Cuban and I have the same health routine,’ ultimately the best health routine is the one you can commit to doing on a regular basis.
Now you are going to say… ‘I don’t have the time!’ No worries, try these short options:
- According to a study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, running for only 10-minutes a day can drastically reduce risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
- Manick Bhan[iv] , the CEO and CTO of the ticket-comparison search engine Rukkus, encourages sitting on an exercise ball for a few hours in lieu of spending the whole day in a traditional office chair. But Bhan doesn’t need more than 30 seconds to complete additional exercises throughout the day. “After every phone call, do a 30-second wall sit. After every email, crank out a few sit-ups. And if you’re feeling super pumped, or want to get pumped up for a meeting you have soon, start pushing out some pushups.”
- Try the nano workout method by exercising while you do daily tasks like brushing your teeth. Instead of just standing there, do a few calf raises.
- Take the stairs, get water from a fountain on another floor
- Park at the back of the office parking lot
- Walk around the outside of the building – okay, you can bring your phone
YouTube makes a great work-out buddy for a busy entrepreneur – try these and/or look for others that may be more to your liking:
Add mindfulness and consciousness to your life with this Yoga With Adriene practice.[v] Perfect to try before an interview or an event. Or an ideal opportunity to ground and experience your full potential energy. Just 27-minutes for beginners to seasoned yogis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEyyu7kk0ZI
If you work at a desk or computer for long stretches of time, you might place excessive strain on certain muscles like your neck and shoulders. Try these quick stretches to help reduce stiffness and pain. Christine Eley, Mayo Clinic Employee Health Coordinator shows us to perform these Deskercise – Neck and Shoulder Stretches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lbe9oZbpDs
Experience a relaxing yoga session without getting up from your chair. Judi Bar, certified yoga therapist at Cleveland Clinic, shows you some simple yoga exercises and stretches you can do right at your desk. Chair Yoga – Part 2: Desk Stretches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSk0yDERBVU
Multiple studies now support that sitting is the new smoking, with people who sit too long having a 54% increase in heart attack risk. Even though most of us spend multiple hours on our desk chair every day averaging 9.3 hours of total sitting a day, there is light at the end of the tunnel: Taking frequent breaks at work, to get up and walk or stretch, breaks the vicious sitting cycle and reduces the brutal effects of sitting on our longevity. 7 stretching exercises to do when you need to take a break and get some extra energy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U0dLLf1HQE
Douglas Chang, MD, PhD, chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services at UC San Diego Health recommends you take a break from the keyboard once or twice an hour and shows some simple stretches you can do at home or at the office to relieve and prevent those knots and kinks. Easy At-Work Stretches for Neck Pain and Back Pain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkT7jxFfPHA
As an entrepreneur—especially as a solo entrepreneur—success is directly related to the strength of your physical and mental well-being. If you are incapacitated, there is no replacement. If you hit a mental or physical wall, the result can be temporarily or critically devastating for your business.
Health is the first muse, and sleep is the condition to produce it. Emerson