Updated 12 February 20
As a founder, your main focus is on driving your startup forward and you have a lot of responsibilities to juggle like deadlines, meetings, funding and networking. Health and well-being probably don’t even make it into the top 10 on your list of priorities, but they are just as important as nailing that investor pitch and also make just as big of an impact on your business.
Research from the University of California found 49% of entrepreneurs deal with at least one mental illness (such as addiction, depression, or anxiety) and about one-third of entrepreneurs struggle with two or more mental illnesses. So whilst cutting corners on healthy lifestyle factors such as sleep, exercise and nutrition may seem to work in the short-term, over time it will start to affect you and ultimately your startup.
Your startup requires your attention and hard work but not your blood, sweat and tears. Here are the top 5 wellbeing tips for founders that’ll help you to prioritise your wellness while running a business.
Down time is not the enemy of creativity
We’re all culprits for saying we ‘don’t have time for that’, but making time for your well-being should be a priority. Make sure there's time scheduled into your calendar for a bit of ‘me-time’. Whether it’s making time in your day to workout or treat yourself to a massage, make sure the focus is on taking care of you. Making time for this seems hard at first (after all you could be looking over those meeting notes!), but creating a routine which allows for downtime is crucial for a busy schedule.
There are some celebrities taking self-admin to the extreme, take Mark Wahlberg as an example. He starts his day at 2:30am, prays, eats, works out, eats, showers, golf, eats, cryogenic chamber recovery (yep, that’s right!), eats, family time, meetings and work calls, school run, eats, works out, EATS, final family time, and then to bed at 7:30pm to get a full 7 hours sleep.
Aside from the multiple meal times, we don’t know how anyone could keep up with this insane schedule. What we’re trying to show is that you can fit work and rest all in one day, so don’t need to choose between the two.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Believe me when I say, if all food was good for you I’d live off KitKat chunkys! But as good as that sounds, studies have shown that those who cook home meals are more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. Fuelling your body with the right food prevents illness (which means less days off) and preparing food at home means you know exactly what has gone into your meal. They’re healthier containing more fibre, calcium, and iron compared to takeaway food and restaurants. Still not convinced? We get it. You like the benefits but don’t like cooking as time is scarce. Not to worry, there are some great meal prep and meal kit companies out there to get you started and keep you on track!
Disconnect and reconnect
Being in the tech startup industry we often forget there's life outside of the technology bubble. It’s important to take a break now and then to get back with reality. Have you ever notice that your big breakthrough moments, maybe even your tech startup idea, happen when you’re doing the most mundane tasks? Unloading the dishwasher, walking to work, having a shower. This is because social media, email, and web surfing force our brain to be reactive to the past rather than anticipating the future i.e. what to click on next. Taking time away from screens not only allows our brains to be proactive but also gives us more time in the day to reconnect with family and friends.
Keep your head up
It is heartbreaking when things haven’t worked out the way that you planned, but don't lose your perspective. Founders can face a lot of setbacks with their startups and these immediate concerns often take centre stage in your mind when starting your business, but remind yourself of the reason you came up with the idea for your startup in the first place; focus on your OKRs. Is that awkward meeting going to matter to you down the line? What will matter is whether you’re aligned to your vision and mission, and the relationships you have built along the way.
Work hard, play hard
The line between work and personal life can become a little blurry for many founders, but it's true when they say all work and no play can get you down. Overworking leads to burning out so time spent having fun is important to keep us sane! If you need to schedule a time for tech-free fun just as you would for anything else, do it. Say yes to happy hour with friends or spare 15 minutes to catch up on your book. Whatever you consider fun, it is just as important for well-being as exercise and good nutrition.
Entrepreneurship can bring the unexpected. But taking the time to check on yourself and prioritising your well-being is the key for not only a healthy happy, self but a healthy and happy business. It's all about balance.
(And a KitKat chunky occasionally won’t do any harm…)
P.S. get rid of additional stress and apply to mentorship programme for guidance and support!