The stability and well-being of a company is usually your top priority and concern, but it’s important to understand that your own health is just as crucial for keeping the ball rolling. Stress and frustration are common denominators when you’ve got targets to hit and investors breathing down your neck.
‘An entrepreneur’s biggest problem is that they get excited about their business and in turn they put themselves second,’ says John Neal, a performance coach and tutor, who has worked with Vodafone, the Bank of England, and the Welsh Rugby Union. ‘So, they neglect necessities such as exercise, diet, sleep – they’re so excited by the idea and that’s where all of their focus is driven to. Before they know it, they’re fatigued, they’re overweight, or they’ve got the flu, which of course makes that golden idea suddenly less easy to obtain.’
Ross Cowan, who runs his own personal training business says, ‘The healthier people are, the more focused they are, and the better they are at performing at the higher level which they need in order to successfully run their own business.’ When you don’t balance the priorities of work and your own well-being, everything is going to suffer in the long run; your business, your employees and your family.
The good news is there’s plenty of help out there for busy people looking to stay fit, from the clinically medical to the deeply spiritual. Don’t jump to conclusions, we’re not suggesting calling a celebrity nutritionist or a witch doctor. All we ask if that you take a quick read of the steps we’ve listed below.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
With a heavy schedule, it’s easy to break and grab the Mars bar instead of thinking of a healthy option. ‘As many will know, when you’re entrepreneurial you’re normally adrenalised, you’re excited,’ says Neal. ‘This rush makes you crave quick hits of sugar. So typically, you’d go for biscuits, cake, anything that’s easy to eat and easy to carry so you can keep moving forward.’
Despite the temptations, consider this. Keep your energy levels peaking and the cravings away by eating a high-protein breakfast, which will consist of grazing on nuts, seeds and fruits and drinking plenty of water. For speed and a consumption of both food and water, soup can be a good lunch option, says Neal.
Crucial tip, whatever you do, don’t try to get by on coffee alone. ‘Try to get some real food into your system instead of running on adrenaline, which a lot of business people do,’ says Jacqueline Harvey, who owns and runs lifestyle clinic Crystal Clear Health.
‘These notorious caffeine uppers and downers can be, in the long term, very detrimental to your endocrine system, which basically means your adrenal system can crash. A lot of people in business can burn out because they keep pushing and their body inevitably gives way.
KEEP ON MOVING
Some people relish the rush of exercise and love to burn those calories, but we can all admit to hitting snooze on a cold rainy morning. It is important to find time for it in your daily life though.
Business owners are ‘driven people who thrive on challenge, which requires them to be fit,’ says Neal. ‘But they often won’t prioritise fitness or health.’
Needing to be in shape for a forthcoming task can be a great source of motivation. Therefore, Neal suggests creating personal challenges that match the drive of the entrepreneur. Cycling around Britain or climbing Kilimanjaro, for example. Cowan also recommends Tough Mudder, a gruelling obstacle course that includes swimming through ditches of icy water and crawling through mud under barbed wire if the more calming challenges don’t thrill you enough.
Alisa Burke, a mind and body coach suggests, ‘If you are in a very intense work period then I would do something like interval training, or even just going outside and running fast between lamp posts or walking for a set time. It trains your body to cope with intense periods of stress, and you learn to recover from it.’
LEARN TO REST
With all of this rush and exercise going on, it is crucial to take some recharge time for the body and mind. ‘A recurring approach to how you work has proven to be really beneficial,’ says Burke. ‘Sometimes really intense periods are necessary and that’s OK, but we recommend scheduling in a week where you can take the pace off – whether that’s lightening your work schedule or shifting the way you exercise.’
Resting is essential for keeping creativity flowing too. ‘If you go and speak to entrepreneurs who have made it long-term, like Dyson or Branson, what you will find is, yes they were hard driving but they would also take time out,’ says Neal. ‘They recognise that good ideas come when you take time out. Patience is a virtue, and you’ve got to be willing to slow down to speed up if you want to accomplish your goals.’
GET CHECKED OUT
Nobody enjoys going to the doctor’s and it’s especially easy to put it off if you have a busy lifestyle, but ignoring signs of illness can have severe consequences. ‘The biggest issue for executives, a bit like the biggest issue for men, is getting them to actually go see someone about a problem’ says Dr. Nick Summerton, a GP who is medical director of health screening firm Bluecrest.
‘They won’t know they have high blood pressure or high cholesterol unless they have it measured.’
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
Though it can be often overlooked, emotional well-being is important too. Some entrepreneurs ‘tend to take on anxieties of fear and worry, which can have really damaging effects on your energy and your health,’ says Burke. ‘It drains and exhausts you, both mentally and physically. Successful business owners are no exception to fearful thoughts of “I’m not good enough”. The best recommendation is to pay attention to yourself and look into how to pacify the negative emotions you have.’
This article was written to remind business owners that there’s no point in working every hour of the day if it means neglecting your health. ‘Running a business is one of the most fun and dynamic things anyone can do – if you look after yourself,’ says Harvey. ‘If you don’t, it can be the most arduous.’