10 Healthy Habits Every Business Owner Should Form
10 Healthy Habits Every Business Owner Should Form
There are countless healthy habits touted for the business owner, and for good reason.
Business owners can seem like fire jugglers, balancing numerous conflicting priorities simultaneously none of which they want to drop the (fire-lit) ball on.
After a while, the constant juggling can start to affect an entrepreneur’s health and the health of their business.
The good news is that entrepreneurs can counter the effects of running a company by prioritising their wellbeing and developing new positive habits.
Why It’s Important to Build Healthy Habits as a Business Owner
The biggest reason to develop healthy habits as a business owner is to prevent and combat burnout.
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a manifestation of chronic unmitigated stress”. The World Health Organization goes one step further by emphasising that burnout is a work-related phenomenon.
The health effects of burnout
The number of health problems stemming from burnout are many. What’s more, men and women are affected by burnout differently.
At the core, burnout is characterised by:
- Low energy or exhaustion;
- Decreased motivation, professional detachment, or feelings of negativism or cynicism towards one’s job; and
- reduced work productivity and effectiveness.
To help relieve and prevent burnout, improve wellbeing, and increase business success, we’ve curated a list of positive habits for entrepreneurs.
You aren’t meant to tackle the entire list. Rather, we encourage you to pick one or two items and focus your energy there (see no. 10).
Here are 10 healthy habits for business owners starting with one of the most important: sleep.
1. Get enough sleep
Forget the old adage that “the early bird catches the worm.” Instead, replace it with “the bird that catches 7 hours of sleep a night catches the worm.” It doesn’t run off the tongue as well but it’s a belief backed by science.
It matters less when an entrepreneur sleeps (or wakes up) and more how much they sleep. This insight may be a relief for small business owners who are night owls instead of early birds.
How business owners can get more sleep
Whichever type of bird you connect with, the take-home message is the same: the health toll of poor sleep is real and significant.
Fortunately, sleep research has discovered science-backed techniques we can use to combat insomnia. Here are 11 sleep tips in order of waking to bedtime:
- Get up at the same time every day;
- Expose yourself to 15 minutes of sunlight every morning;
- Don’t turn your bedroom into an office, don’t turn your bed into a work desk;
- Remove screens from your bedroom including TV’s, computer screens, and iPads;
- Stop drinking caffeine after 2 pm;
- Cut down on drinking and drink alcoholic beverages no closer than 3 hrs before bed;
- Exercise more often, every day if you can, but not right before going to sleep;
- Put your phone down before bed and if you can’t, use it while standing up; this will help you stop scrolling and feel sleepy;
- Write down your worries or to-do’s before bed, then don’t look at them until the next day;
- Go to sleep at the same time every day; and
- If you can’t fall asleep after 25 minutes, get out of bed and do something else (like read).
2. Eat well
With the stressors of business ownership, which have been shown to affect a person’s appetite, it’s important for entrepreneurs to prioritise eating well.
This habit isn’t about dieting, it’s about eating a balanced diet of healthier foods on a consistent schedule.
The benefits of healthy eating, aside from living longer, include:
- Keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy;
- Supports muscle growth and maintenance;
- Boosts immunity;
- Strengthens bones;
- Lowers the risk of various diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
- Supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding
- Helps the digestive system function
- Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight
How business owners can eat well
Business owners can eat well by using the following easy tips:
- Eat breakfast within an hour after waking up;
- Eat more of your daily calories earlier in the day;
- Stop eating within three hours of going to bed.
- Eat your veggies. No, really. Eat your veggies! Do it through the ½, ¼ and ¼ ratio -> cover half your dinner plate with vegetables and fruit, ¼ with whole grains, and 14 with healthy protein;
- Drink water, coffee, or tea, not soft drinks or alcohol;
- Stop dieting. Diets have been proven not to work;
- When you have a craving, choose a nutritious food as a snack;
- Use mindful eating and surf the food craving wave. Identify/name your craving (e.g., I want chips), observe it, accept it, and pay attention to what happens next (e.g. the craving often goes away);
- When you snack, eat slowly;
- Use intuitive eating. Pay attention to your hunger, fullness, etc. How much is enough?
- Include ‘brain foods’ in your diet—seafood, greens, buts, and beans; and
- Dark chocolate is your friend. The darker, the better (because it has less sugar)
Perhaps not surprisingly, exercise is another one of our top health habits for business owners. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Fitness offers us countless health benefits:
- Strengthens muscles and bones—examples: weight training with free weights, resistance bands, or weight machines, certain types of yoga, pilates, overday activities (housecleaning, gardening, etc.);
- Better cardiovascular and respiratory health—examples: walking, running, cycling, swimming, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, soccer;
- Improved flexibility—stretching, certain types of yoga, dance, tai chi;
- Better balance—yoga, dance, slacklining;
- Stress reduction;
- Promotes better sleep (see habit no. 1);
- Boosts energy;
- Improves mood;
- Supports better mental health;
- Prevents and manages chronic diseases;
- Manages weight;
- Builds confidence; and
- Promotes social bonds.
How business owners can make more time to exercise
Business owners are busy people. The best way for them to include fitness in their daily routine is to add it to what they’re already doing. Here are some easy examples:
- Walk more; e.g., go on walks during meetings;
- Take the stairs when possible;
- Stand up while working at your desk;
- Park further away from the door (whether at work or at the store);
- Go grocery shopping, stock up, and then carry your heavy grocery bags to the car or, even better, home;
- Take a daily 10-minute mini workout break (e.g., squats; push ups on the floor, or against a desk or wall; walking lunges across a room; pull-ups using a bar in a doorway; etc.);
- Sit on the floor when watching TV;
- Get a dog….then take it for lots of walks;
- Bike or walk to work.
And, our most powerful fitness tip: find a physical activity that you love to do and do it! If you hate what you’re doing, you’ll never stick to doing it long-term.
4. Prioritise your relationships
It can be easy to let our interpersonal relationships slip when we’re building a business. The benefits of having strong relationships, however, makes prioritising crucial for entrepreneurs.
Time spent with friends, family, and close social ties have been shown to prolong our lives and our overall wellbeing. More specifically, a strong social circle can offer us these health perks:
- A sense of belonging and purpose;
- Improved confidence and self-worth;
- Reduced stress;
- Better mood;
- Less loneliness;
- Better cardiovascular health;
- Good advice and new perspectives;
- Practical help, e.g., need help to move? Call your friends!;
- Improved lifestyle, e.g., hang out with active friends if you want to be more active;
- Emotional support to help us cope with difficult life events like a struggling business, financial strain, or the death of a loved one.
How business owners can prioritise their relationships
You can maintain relationships outside of work using the following tips:
- Be available and stay in touch;
- Be kind and practice empathy;
- Be a good listener;
- Be trustworthy;
- Be vulnerable;
- Be flexible; and …
… combine activities! Even if a person isn’t running a business, life can be very busy. Spend time with the people you care about doing something else on your healthy habits list like taking a break for a healthy lunch, going for a hike or doing something you love (see point #16).
5. Take a break
Entrepreneurs can find it difficult to take breaks because they can feel unproductive. Research has shown, however, that taking several short breaks during the day in fact boost our mental capacity and improve our overall performance, so much so we’d be crazy not to take clear and scheduled breaks!
What can a business owner do, then, while on their break? Keep reading for a few ideas.
What healthy habits can a business owner enjoy on a break
Here are a few ideas of how you can spend your time while disconnecting from work:
Whether it’s reading a paperback, listening to an audiobook on Audible or Libby, or reading an ebook on a Kindle, taking in a book while on your break can teach you something, change your perspective, and encourage your creativity.
Use your downtime to self-reflect or reflect on something that’s been nagging you about your business. Combine this with exercise from habit #3 and you’ve created the right environment for great insights you wouldn’t have gotten had you not taken a break and stayed chained to your desk.
Go one step further with reflecting and write down your thoughts in a journal or notebook. This habit has the extra benefit of helping you to remember everything that came to mind later.
6. Prioritise your time
An often overlooked habit which can improve a business owner’s health is better time allocation.
Entrepreneurs, as captains of the ship, so to speak, often feel they need to be involved in every piece of their business. This can lead to burnout (remember how we started this article?) and a poor use of their time.
Instead, owners can do the following to ensure their time is used more wisely:
Cut down on business meetings
Business owners should be cutthroat about which meetings they need to attend. Better yet, they can cut down meetings down to the bare minimum to free up their entire team’s time.
Ask for help
The D-word can be a dirty word for entrepreneurs, but delegation is key to lightening their workload and prioritising their time.
If the word delegate feels too uncomfortable to use because it sounds like asking for help, think of it instead as saying no to doing things you shouldn’t be doing.
Seek the help of a professional
Delegation only gets us so far. At times, professionals need the perspective and help of a professional; their employees do too.
Programs like Arive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offer high-quality, confidential counselling and support to employees will give them the tools and insight they need to build resilience, better manage life’s challenges, and be healthier, happier people.
From a manager’s perspective, ensuring mental health resources that are available for their employees makes good business sense. It ensures their people stay focused, productive, and engaged in their work—which benefits everyone.
7. Practice compassion and gratitude
A more abstract healthy habit for business owners is making a point to focus on being grateful. Studies have shown that there’s a link between gratitude and a sense of overall well being.
- Combine this habit with journaling from habit #5 and write down what you’re grateful for in a journal
- Show others you’re grateful for their support, mentoring, or guidance by sending a thank-you card, returning the favour, or simply telling them outright.
- Practice self-compassion and kindness. Consider your breaks from habit #5 as self-compassion breaks, or time spent caring for yourself.
8. Give back
From fundraising to donating, volunteering to gifting your time in other ways, giving back can offer business owners the following positive health benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure;
- Boosts mood;
- Reduces stress levels;
- Increased self-esteem;.
- Offers a greater sense of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness.
9. Be mindful
Mindfulness is a fancy word for focusing solely on doing one thing at a time; it’s the opposite of multitasking. Research that has looked at the health benefits of mindfulness have found that the practice can:
- Improve focus and memory;
- Lower stress;
- Reduce brooding and rumination;
- Lower reactivity;
- Increase empathy and compassion; and
- Lower anxiety and depression.
Business owners can incorporate mindfulness easily into their everyday lives. The best part: they can combine this habit with most of the others we’ve already mentioned on this list, like:
- Eat mindfully;
- Drink (water coffee, or tea) mindfully;
- Exercise mindfully (like while on a walk);
- Take a break mindfully by, for example, focusing on nature; and
- Actively listen when you’re with friends or family.
10. Take time to do what you love
Our last healthy habit for entrepreneurs is to prioritise themselves by doing something they love. These things should be unrelated to work. Examples include a hobby, a recreational activity, consignment shopping, art gallery-hopping, reading for pleasure, or any other activity that will help a person recharge.
Bonus: Have fun when building healthy habits as a business owner
Entrepreneurs are often so busy they forget to have fun. We’re here to tell you to play, play, play!
Studies show that, from bears to humans, play is an integral part of a healthy life. When we prioritise having fun, we enjoy both psychological and physical health benefits.
Final Thoughts on Healthy Habits for the Business Owner
We hope we’ve given you fun and inspiring ideas to add health habits to your day.
Remember: you’re not meant to add every habit to your routine. Pick one or two to focus on (mindfulness!) and start there. Better yet, combine habits, like exercise and time spent with friends, to double up on the health benefits and prioritise your time.
Now that we’ve covered your physical and psychological health, let’s talk about your financial health.
Our Certified Financial Planners would be happy to talk with you about yours. Together, we can create a plan that includes financial habits that will help you reach your business goals.
Take better care of your financial health—you deserve it. Contact BP Group Solutions today.