Many years ago, I was on a plane heading to a business conference. I was reading a magazine when my vision started to get blurry, my heart started palpitating, and I became nauseous. Being the kind of person I am, I didn’t want to have the plane diverted, so I wrote my fiancé’s number on my hand and prayed that I would make it until we landed.
When we finally did, I went straight to the hospital and was admitted. I remember so clearly the doctor walking in and telling me that I thankfully was not having a heart attack but that I was dealing with extreme stress. I tried to tell him that I did not have stress, but he explained it to me this way:
When you turn off your car, your car shuts down – but my body was refusing to slow down, so it was causing me the stress I was feeling. I continued to disregard this stress diagnosis until I started noticing anxiety attacks in places like restaurants and meetings. It would get so bad that I would have to rush to the bathroom and lock myself in a stall until I could overcome those feelings.
It was then that I finally realized that even though I looked excellent on the outside, internally my body was calling for me to slow down. It was then that I started to address my feelings of stress and anxiety and took up yoga and other self-care routines as I worked to change how I was working and handling the things in my life.
I stopped working long hours, stopped saying yes to everything that was asked of me, and I began to practice mindfulness and meditation.
I have learned that although entrepreneurship has so many positives, calling the shots and being responsible for the success of your company and the livelihood of yourself and others can be a lot to carry on your shoulders. It is so important to care for yourself so that you’re able to show up as the best version of yourself every day. It will make you a better leader and a happier person. It is as simple as taking small actions that help you to stay healthy and prevent illnesses.
Here are some self-care ideas to consider:
Breathe Deep: Controlled and mindful breathing stabilizes blood pressure and staves off stress. If you have trouble remembering to breathe deeply, practice yoga or other guided exercises that focus on breath until it comes naturally.
Get Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise boosts the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning. If you don’t belong to a gym, incorporate 15- to 20-minute chunks of exercise throughout your workweek: take the dog for a walk or do a circuit of strength exercises.
Sleep Well: Sleep deprivation contributes to reduced decision-making ability and creativity. You might get more done by burning the midnight oil, but at what cost? Build a routine that includes good sleeping habits—and try to catch a solid eight hours.
Eat Right: Your food choices have a direct impact on your brain’s performance, so choose wisely. The best way to do that is to plan ahead. Prepare healthy snacks and meals for the week, portioned out in the fridge. Go for lots of greens and water.
Connect Often: Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path that takes a toll mentally and emotionally, so connecting is a must. Tap into your NAWBO sisterhood. Make time for family and friends. Meet with clients and vendors face to face.
Head Outside: You make the rules, and that means you can work from anywhere at times. Too much stale air can decrease productivity, so head outside with your laptop and soak in some fresh air and vitamin D.
Love Your Space: Your workspace is where you spend the majority of your waking hours, so make sure it’s designed to make you feel happy and motivated. Small improvements like a splash of paint or plants can elevate your mood.
Treat Yourself: Set goals and then reward yourself for your hard work and small victories, whether it’s new earrings or your favorite take-out. Rewards can motivate you through rough patches, too. Personally, I love to get massages and treat myself to pedicures and manicures, and one of my favorite things in the world is to go out for a nice glass of wine.
Although I am sometimes guilty of breaking my rituals, my body will always remind me that I occasionally need to slow down and focus on self-care. This month, I challenge you to slow down and listen to what your body tells you when it is speaking to you. This will save you in a big way in the long run!
A few final notes: be sure to check out the NAWBO Institute (create a user profile if you don’t already have one) for recordings of our virtual programming, including several self-care topics. Also, if you’ve reached the $1 million mark with your current or a previous business, check out how the Circle program can help you rethink success and nurture all areas of your life as a woman business owner.