If you’re a business owner, you need to make self care a priority, for the sake of both your wellbeing and your income. Here are 13 proven self care tips that will lead to a more balanced life.
How do you look after yourself as a business owner, as a leader, as a parent, a spouse, as a career-driven person? Whichever of these labels you identify with, they all come with a lot of responsibility, and with responsibility comes challenges, and in many cases, hard work.
Last week, WODIN’s CEO, Julie Syl Kalungi, shared her own tips for self care:
Why should you prioritise self care? First, because every person deserves to feel calm, balanced, happy, and healthy. But if that doesn’t convince you, then the facts don’t lie: looking after yourself will improve your quality of work, your business, and in turn, your income.
In 2022, the Health and Safety Executive reported that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 17 million days lost due to work-related ill health in 2021/22. Deprioritising self care is good for no-one: not you and not your business.
For all you hard workers out there, it can be difficult to slow down and listen to your own needs. But self care is so important. Case in point: recently, our CEO, Julie, was pushing hard, getting projects started while also juggling a ton of responsibilities as a mother, wife, and community leader. In other words, she was burning the candle on both ends. One Sunday evening in January, her body said enough, and she has been on bed rest for the last fortnight.
Based on her experience, we felt the need to share 13 proven self care tips with you, in order to help you lead a more balanced life.
1. Beauty and wellness treatments
As Julie states in the video, her self care routine includes regular facials, vitamin injections, and massages. Incorporating beauty and wellness treatments into your life isn’t just good for your body — it’s good for your mind. You’re creating time and space to transform into your freshest feeling self, and by doing so, you’re telling yourself that you’re worth that time and space. Self care is all about reminding ourselves of our worth.
Sure, exercise improves your physical health in a multitude of ways, but did you know that it also chemically reduces stress? When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a neurotransmitter that literally makes you feel good. When you return from a run, a swim, or a gym session, you’ll be exhausted in the best way possible, feeling happy and stress free.
We recommend exercising just before you start your work day, to shake off any early morning grogginess; or right after your work day, to relieve the stress of your job and signal to your body that it’s time to relax.
3. Stretches and meditation
If you haven’t got time for a full on gym sesh before work, there are still ways to calm your body down before and after work. Try stretching your back and neck. You may not realise that stress is clenching up those parts of your body, and stretching will relieve a lot of that tension.
You can do the same for your brain by meditating to clear your head. A little regular meditation might be just what you need to stop sweating the small stuff and focus on your goals with clarity and calm.
4. Walk in your local area
Many of us work indoors, on our computers, for hours and hours each day. It’s easy to forget to appreciate the world around us and the community that we live in when we rarely go outside. Why not set aside some time each day to take a walk around your neighborhood. It can be therapeutic to take in the sights and remind yourself of the people, nature, and businesses that exist in your local area.
Working away on your own career can, at times, make it feel like it’s you against the world, which is a recipe for anxiety. Regular, calming walks may make it easier to remember that you’re part of a community.
5. Get a good night’s sleep, every night
It’s hard to overstate the importance of sleep. Most of us need around 8 hours of sleep, but that can vary from person to person, so it’s up to you to work out what number of hours leaves you feeling rested and ready for the day. Once you know that, it’s imperative that you prioritise sleeping regular amounts and at regular times. A lack of sleep will impact your life in ways you might not even be conscious of.
Did you know that lack of sleep will impact you economically? A study in the US estimated that sleep deprivation currently has an economic impact of $411 billion each year. It might feel like sleeping more is taking away time you could be spending working on your career, but trust us: you will only benefit personally, professionally, and financially from a good night’s sleep.
6. Keep consistent work hours
If you’re self-employed, it’s tempting to work all day every day, because there’s so much pressure on you to keep your business going. You’ve probably insisted, “I’ll just respond to one more email!” way too many times to count. If so, you’re treating yourself in a way that you’d never treat an employee, because it would be considered unfair, unethical, and unhealthy. More than that, being overworked would impact the quality of an employee’s work, and it will affect the quality of yours, too.
Try treating yourself like an employee, with strict work hours and work-life boundaries, and see if your personal life and professional output improves. Even if that means reducing the scope of what your business is doing, to account for reduced working hours, that leap is probably worth it in the long run.
8. Take a vacation
Speaking of treating yourself like an employee: they are entitled to time off, and so are you! If the way your business operates doesn’t allow you to take a week or two of annual leave every now and again to go on vacation, then it needs to change, because it’s not sustainable. Studies show that relaxing on holiday relieves burnout and makes you more productive and excited about work when you come back. It’s a win-win.
7. Get your hardest tasks out of the way first
Be honest: you’re no stranger to procrastination, because none of us are. It’s so easy to wait until the last minute to do that big, difficult task that unfortunately, really needs doing. But if you put it off until Friday afternoon, that means it’s hanging over your head, stressing you out all week. Do yourself a favor, and prioritise getting the hardest, most annoying tasks done earlier in the week and earlier in the day. It’s a gift you can give yourself that will increase the amount of time you spend actually enjoying what you do.
9. Take a class or join a group
Make a list of the things you’re passionate about or enjoy doing, and search your local area for a group that indulges that very thing. Maybe it’s a book club, a spin class, a knitting group, an activist organisation, or volunteering at a charity. (If you’re in Liverpool, WODIN is always looking for volunteers!)
Of course, this is an amazing way to get social, which will do you a world of good (more on that later). But it also means you’re setting aside an allotted time every week or month for something you love doing that has nothing to do with your professional life. Because you’re in a group, there are other people keeping you accountable and making sure you’re showing up and staying in the moment, rather than checking your emails.
Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you feel you could benefit from it and can afford it, it’s also a great way to set aside time for yourself. Your session and the time it takes to travel to and from it is allocated for you to work on yourself and not on your business. Aside from the actual content of your sessions, it can be incredibly healing and confidence boosting to go to therapy simply because it’s an hour where the focus is entirely on you and your wellbeing. Even if you don’t prioritise looking after yourself, your therapist will, because it’s their job to. In turn, your sessions may remind you that you are important and worthy of self care and self love.
11. Take time to talk to loved ones
Did you know that a single hug can markedly improve your mental wellbeing? The embrace of a loved one is proven to release feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. All that’s to say, spending time with friends and family is essential to your mental wellbeing; it will make you a happier and healthier person all around.
It can be difficult to fit in quality time with the people in our lives around work and other obligations, but it’s worth putting in that extra bit of effort to make it happen. Even a 20-minute phone call is better than nothing! Statistics show that those who spend significant time with loved ones each day are 12 times more likely to report feeling joyful rather than stressed or anxious. A casual hangout with a friend can be valuable medicine for the both of you.
12. Meet other small business owners in your area
Another way to spend time with others, while still progressing your business, is to join (or create) a group for local small business owners. It can feel very isolating to run a business all on your own, and you can bet that plenty of other people feel the same way. Being part of a group that meets regularly may be a way to escape the confines of your office and connect with a wider community, sharing tips, leads, collaborating, and venting to one another (a great stress relieving activity!).
13. Treat yourself!
It’s a cliche because it’s true! Obviously ‘treat yourself’ isn’t a license to go wild and blow all your money on a shopping spree just to feel something. But in small ways, scattered throughout your week and your month, allow yourself to buy things that will brighten up your day, watch a movie you’ve been excited to see, play a video game, or read a book. Do something with your time that’s not productive but that makes you happy. Do something with your money that isn’t strictly necessary, but will make you smile. Life is for living, and you’ve earned it!