Running a business is demanding - there's always something to be done, someone to call back, emails to read, a project to work on, bookkeeping to catch up on - you know the feeling well. Whether you're actually at work, thinking about it in the car, planning your workday over breakfast, or worrying about it at 2am - it manages to get itself front and centre in our lives.
The problem is in our striving for success (and lets face it, it's all with good intent to do well), it's easy for other things start to fall down the list - and quite often that's our own health and well-being. Given we really need to bring our 'A-game' and that our own health is really the very thing our business needs to be successful, we have to find ways to prioritise our health.
I know this first-hand. I was busily trying to succeed in my business - eye on the target, work, grind, work, a boundary- less busy buoy bobbing along in a sea of distress and false priorities. I had complete disregard for my well being and pushed on with fervour. But things began to unwind. Full abdominal hysterectomy. Sure. I can take my laptop to hospital and clear emails. Hip operation. Bring it on. I may be seated but I am not defeated. Anaemia. Ok, well I'll battle on. Melanoma. Oh. Clinical Depression. Ugh. And then there was the straw that broke the camel's back. Except there was no camel. There was just me - a humpless human carrying burdens too great to bear. I fractured my spine. Final straw. Literal broken back.
I was also aware over this time that I was operating my business in a state of mild panic. I was always 'on'. Cortisol surged through my body 24/7. For the first time in my life, I wasn't sleeping well. I also developed eczema, again, not something I had ever had before in my life. My tummy was troubling me. And I was reaching for a glass of wine (or 3) at the end of the day with a little too much desperation.
So it all kind of imploded. A perfect storm - except it was 'perfect' in a big-time sucky kind of way. The subtle whispers in my ear from the universe 'are you looking after yourself?' were replaced with a left hook to the jaw that knocked me to the floor. I had to make changes.
And I did. And actually, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. But the difference in my quality of life and well being is far more significant than I could ever have imagined. In a relatively short space of time, I have literally transformed my health, happiness and well-being. At the same time, my business has flourished.
Here is FOUR factors that made a major difference.
1. Move in the morning ......JUST DO IT! 🤸♂️
So if there was ONE THING that I had to single out that began the transformation it was this habit. So simple it's silly, but so effective - I embraced the teachings of the ancient wisdom-yielding Guru Nike - just do it.
We've all got a reason why finding time to exercise can be tricky - we're not a morning person, we have to leave too early for work, we like to read the paper, we've got kids, we're lacking motivation, we're just downright tired. Enough!
So do this - put a pair of runners by your bed, and some comfortable walking clothes. I also like to listen to music, so I have my headset ready to go. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal, and put it slightly out of reach. When the alarm goes off just roll out of bed, pull on your shoes, clothes and JUST DO IT. Go for a walk. Do it so quickly and ninja- like that you're out the door before your mind has time to start all its stories about how tired you are, or why you really shouldn't bother.
Walk out the door and simply walk around your block. Even if it's 8 minutes - it's 8 minutes more than you did yesterday. Aim to build to a 20 minute brisk walk in the coming weeks. They say most of the benefits of exercise come from that first 20 minutes, so stay within the point of diminishing returns.
Or grab an app like the 7 minute workout (available on iTunes) and do it from home. Seven minutes.
My point here is to just GET IT DONE before you talk yourself out of it. Make it easy. Make it simple. Make it achievable and just start the habit of doing it every freakin' day. Heck, you can even take Sundays off if you want... but my guess is once you start to feel better, you'll want to do it everyday.
Then you're done. That's it! Exercise - tick. No more mind games about 'when' you're going to exercise, why you can't, all the reasons you're terrible and lazy. Just do it. You'll feel a sense of satisfaction for having achieved something before breakfast. And you've given your metabolism a kick start.
Give it a try and make sure you hashtag #mymorningmove on instagram. Cause really if it's not on the socials it didn't really happen! 😉
2. Work all the time you work.(And don't when you don't).👩🏻💻
The wonderful Brian Tracey talks a lot about this. If you haven't read his great book, 'Eat That Frog' then I recommend grabbing it for a read. But basically it's the concept of single-mindedly staying focused on work, when you're meant to be working. No notifications, no social media open, no phone calls (unless you're in customer service and taking phone calls is work). Personally I work in 40 minute blocks - that's the outer limit of my concentration time before my mind starts to wander. But just whole-heartedly, single-mindedly WORK when it's time to work.
I write down my days priorities, set my phone alarm for 40 minutes, make sure it's on DND, move it away, and I go for it. Even just for 40 minutes, I notice all the ways I can be distracted - random thoughts, looking for an email but then reading 15 others, clicking on links, and sometimes I look down and I am holding my i-Phone in my hand looking at Instagram, and I don't even know how it happened!
On the flip side - DON'T work when it's not work time. Sure, the boundaries between work and recreational time are more blurred than they used to be because of the internet, emails, social media, smart phones, 24/7 marketplace etc but that is even MORE reason to protect your down time. I use my out of office message a lot to let people know I am away from my desk. I don't mindlessly check emails while waiting in a queue for lunch.
Another great tip from my buddy Brian to give yourself a mental break - especially if the thought of a WHOLE weekend without working terrifies you. Try this - don't work from Friday night til Sunday morning. That gives you two fresh night's sleep and a full day away from work. It takes discipline but it's an amazing gift to your well-being.
So in a nutshell - when you're ON, be on. Do what you gotta get done. When you're OFF be off. Tools down. Don't straddle the fence of work and downtime. Stand firmly in one then open the gate and walk to the other side shutting it firmly behind you.
3. Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Pig Out! 🐷
When I broke my back, I had to have blood tests and my diet analysed to rule out osteoporosis or anything other underlying factors (turned out I was severely lacking in Vitamin D ...and it's pretty common, so might be worth getting checked out if you've never done so). What I identified through the dietary analysis was nutritional black spots - my snacks. I'm pretty good with meals (in fact our family has set meals on certain nights for 6 nights of the week to make it easy. Try it! #lifechanging). BUT the ol' snackeroos. For context I am a fussy vegetarian who has to follow the LOW FODMAP diet ( no surprise I rarely get invites from friends wanting to cook me dinner!). I never thought about my snacks - I either got hungry and opened up the fridge and cupboard, and seeing nothing I liked, just kept working (not good) OR I got so hungry I ate a block of chocolate in about 20 seconds (yummy, but also not good). And it was because I didn't plan for snacks like I do for meals. I just kind of bobbed along in a sea of mild hunger grabbing at whatever floated to the surface quickly in that moment. Generally, chocolate. Which comes with all the niceties of high sugar snacking. Yay! Crash.
Now I make sure I have snackable and nutritional goodies ready to go and around me to help me choose more wisely and give me a more sustained energy, particularly in the afternoons. The dietitian also found a FODMAP friendly protein powder which has been a game-changer particularly for when I am pushed for time. I've found it at most chemists - https://www.pronourish.com.au/fodmap-foods/digestive-balance-drink.
Don't leave it to chance and sugar - set yourself up for success by making nutritional snacks easy.
4. Party pooper 🎊 🎉 🥂
Okay truth be known, I've put this one last strategically because I thought if I put it first, you'd stop reading. Boo hiss... this woman is a kill-joy! But the fact of the matter is giving up alcohol has improved my health way more than I realised it would. Now I am not suggesting you teeter along the path to teetotaling with me, but is it time to sip a few less bevvies?
So quick backstory - I was a boozehound! I loved a thick viscous chardy on warm Saturday afternoon more than just about anything else. At the end of a long day, nothing dropped my shoulders and took me to relaxville like a wine or two. People ask "Did you have a drinking problem?" and I always say, "I had NO problems drinking!" .. .but no, I wasn't a raging alcoholic, I didn't drink everyday (though secretly I wanted to, such was my love and admiration for it), I didn't drink myself into oblivion (well maybe there was the annual 'what the hell happened moment?') .... but I just knew it wasn't doing me any favours. In fact, the older I got the more the pendulum swung from 'well it was worth it, cause it was fun' to 'no amount of fun is worth this'. I guess it was the moment when I sat tearily with my GP at yet another visit due to ill-health and he said to me "you know it really is just a toxin to your body" that I found myself wondering how alcohol fitted in with me trying to be successful and healthy. Did my poor body need another thing to deal with?
I only ever intended to cut back. But the less I drank, the better I felt. The less I drank, the more amplified the seediness and anxiety afterwards became if I did indulge. The less I drank, the better I slept (and I must add, I also needed less sleep because the quality is so much better). The less I drank the more energy I had. I could go on, but you get the picture.
So I decided to completely give up. Now, that might not be for you and that is 100% fine. I'm not here to tell you that you need to banish alcohol from your life. But if you're feeling a little sluggish, tired and over it all - and if you're drinking regularly at the levels I was, I truly believe that there is benefit in standing back and exploring the relationship you have with alcohol. Maybe a week's break, choosing a month such as Ocsober, finding another AFD in the week or trying an app to be more mindful when drinking? I found following 'Hello Sunday Morning' on Facebook an enormous motivator and helpful resource.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT KEEPING HEALTHY WHILE RUNNING A BUSINESS KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR 'STRESSED TO SUCCESS' LAUNCHING IN FEBRUARY 2019.
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Gabrielle Osborne (BAcc) is a small business specialist who loves empowering creative minds by helping them make sense of their business numbers.