Here are seven habits you can change to boost your energy and reduce stress.
How do you deal with stress when you only get paid when you work? As an entrepreneur, you probably wear many hats. You’re in marketing, management, content creation, and basically every other department your business needs to thrive.
When you run your own company, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not surfing your Facebook feed for the third time this morning. So to make sure your rent gets paid, you need to grind.
Most entrepreneurs have an abundance of ambition (why else would they sacrifice a steady paycheck for constant turbulence?) However, many entrepreneurs have trouble sustaining a healthy work-life balance.
Many entrepreneurs stress themselves to the point that their health suffers. If you’re an entrepreneur who has been feeling particularly lethargic recently, it might be because you haven’t been scheduling downtime to recharge your body.
Here are seven habits you can change to boost your energy and reduce stress.
1. Start Your Morning with Relaxation and Exercise
Do you jump out of bed and immediately start checking emails while your morning coffee is brewing?
If so, you may benefit from slowing down and prepping your body for the day ahead. Including exercise in your morning routine can increase blood flow to your brain and improve your focus for the rest of your day.
Research published in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that exercise releases GABA in your brain. (1) GABA is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and improves mood. You don’t have to run a marathon. Even moderate exercise can improve your GABA levels for the day ahead.
Here are some ways to get more physical activity into your morning routine:
2. Take time to Unwind before Bed
Staring at a screen right before bed can make it difficult to fall asleep. It’s hard to get into a relaxing mindset when all you can think about is next month’s budget.
Taking some time to de-stress before bed will likely improve your sleep quality and help you wake up feeling refreshed.
Your phone and laptop screens emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking its daytime by disrupting your natural circadian rhythm. Research shows that exposure to blue light inhibits melatonin production and makes it harder to fall asleep. (2) However, the distance you hold your phone away from your face may matter.
A study published in the Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep examined the effect of phone distance on sleep quality. (3) The researchers found that participants who held their phones close to their face before bed had more sleep disturbances than participants who held their phones farther away.
Most phones come with a night shift mode (and there are third-party apps available) that block blue light. If you use your phone to read before bed, this mode may minimize the negative effects of staring at a screen.
3. Keep Your Priorities Straight
Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of things you need to do in a day? You can come up with an unlimited number of tasks to keep yourself busy. However, not all of them are equally important.
Research shows that when you schedule a task you’re much more likely to complete it than if you don’t set a time to complete it. (4)
Setting aside time either in the morning or evening to plan your upcoming day can keep you from inventing busy-work meant to make you feel productive without accomplishing anything meaningful.
It’s also a good practice to organize your day so that you complete your most important tasks early in the day. If you do your most critical tasks first, you can’t procrastinate them later in the day when you’re tired.
4. Find Time for Regular Movement Breaks
It’s easy to get so focused on your work that you forget to take care of yourself. Even making small changes to your daily routine can have major benefits for your health.
Sitting for long periods of time is one of the worst habits for your body. Scheduling regular exercise breaks during your workday may seem counterintuitive for productivity, but in the long-term, it will benefit your physical and mental health.
Research published in 2018 found that breaking up prolonged sitting every 30 minutes with walking breaks may help improve insulin levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure. (5)
Another study publishers by researchers at the University of Iowa looked at the effect of reducing sedentary time on mental well-being. (6) After a year, they found that the participants had improved stress levels, mood, and sleep quality.
5. Schedule Time for Activities You Enjoy
The last thing you want to do is to stop working. However, if you’re working seven days a week, you’re likely going to hit a mental wall.
Scheduling time for things you enjoy that don’t have anything to do with your business can give you a needed mental break.
In fact, a study published in 2018 by researchers in Austria found that vacationing for at least seven consequences days can have major health benefits. Participants who took a short vacation from work had improved perceived stress ratings and greater well-being even 45 days after the vacation.
6. Watch Your Coffee Intake
As tempting as it might be to use coffee as a crutch to make it through the day, caffeine is a temporary solution to poor sleeping and recovery habits.
Even though caffeine can increase your mental alertness temporarily, it also increases levels of your stress hormone cortisol. (5) If you’re working hard and sleeping poorly, extra stress is going to have negative effects on your mental and physical health.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking coffee in moderation, but if you’re using coffee as a replacement for proper sleep, you’re going to deprive your body of the recovery it needs to function optimally.
7. Stop Skipping Meal Prep
It’s easy to rush out the door as soon as you wake up without planning your meals in advance. However, when you leave home without food, you’re more likely to rely on fast food or prepackaged snacks for meals.
Unfortunately, most fast food and processed foods are high in sugar and unhealthy fats that can affect your body's optimal inflammatory response function. (6)
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
Planning your meals ahead of time lets you prepare food in bulk so you spend less time in the kitchen. Foods like soup or chili are easy to divide into four or more meals and keep well in the fridge.
Try packing your meals for the day either in the morning (if you have time) or the night before so you can resist the urge to consume processed snacks when you’re on the go.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
5. Yates T, Edwardson CL, Celis-morales C, et al. Metabolic effects of breaking prolonged sitting with standing or light walking in older South Asians and White Europeans: a randomized acute study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018;
6. Blank C, Gatterer K, Leichtfried V, et al. Short Vacation Improves Stress-Level and Well-Being in German-Speaking Middle-Managers-A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(1)