Wellbeing Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, are you constantly and frantically busy, running on coffee during the day and a few glasses of wine in the evenings, at networking events or to try relax at home after a hectic day? Alisa Burke looks at some small lifestyle changes which will make a real difference to your wellbeing.
What is the cost to you and your business of compromising your wellbeing? What can you do about it?
Years ago I remember pondering why, despite being successful, I just didn’t feel as happy as I assessed other people seemed to be. Years later I heard another coach speak of ‘self sacrificing overachievers’ - what a great description, and yep, that used to be me!
The question I would like to ask is is it you? Are you so focused on your career goals and balancing your work and outside of work life that you feel you are running on ‘vapour’ perhaps relying on caffeine as an ‘upper’ and wine to unwind? This may be allowing you to achieve (for now); but what are the are costs in the long term to your health, happiness and business sustainability?
Being ‘switched on’ most of the day, possibly combined with minimal or less than fully refreshing sleep can mean we spend the majority of our time living in a stress response.
If so, our body is constantly wired and ready for ‘fight or flight’. This impacts our immune system, our ability to rest, to fully digest food, to repair, and ultimately can lead to serious health conditions like high blood pressure. heart disease, weakened immune system, insomnia and muscle pain. A more immediate consequence of ‘living in ambition’ is rarely being present. If we are not fully present, not paying attention to the moment, how we feel and to all the sensory signals around us, we are not able to be at our best. We are not able to truly connect with others, people around us do not feel seen or acknowledged, and we will be missing most of the small things in life that can bring so much gratefulness and joy.
‘Old me’ would be out there no matter what on my dog walk or morning run, focused on the time it took to run my route, maybe planning in my mind what I would be doing with my first few clients of the day. I know I used to miss so much by not fully noticing the nature around me, the shape of the clouds, the air on my skin, seeing what living things were in the greenery around me. If we are always rushing or so focused on getting things right and juggling all the balls in the air (AND juggling them well), we will miss many opportunities for connection and happiness.The result? A gnawing feeling of down-ness which for some can trigger episodes of depression.
According to NICE (2009) statistics, in the UK 40% of all absenteeism is due to mental health concerns like depression. The costs of absenteeism in the UK are estimated to be £36bn annually.
If you are hooked in a low mood or living in exhaustion, are you good at asking for help? Successful women, especially those in leadership roles, frequently only good ask for help when things start to break down. This is not a surprising phenomenon - we grow up with role models who do not ask for help . Do Superman or Superwoman have a support network or delegate? No - of course not!
And so we soldier on. ‘Presenteeism’ - attending when you are sick or attending work but much of the time putting in mere ‘face time’ - is estimated to certainly exceed absenteeism in terms of lost productivity - possibly by up to 3 times (L&G 2009) or over £2000 per employee in the UK. Absenteeism and presenteeism combined are estimated to cost 16% in productivity. A further 10% is estimated to be lost through poor health and vitality. So that’s a whopping 26% of productivity estimated to be lost by not flourishing.
If you are building your business, your dream and/or are responsible for a team, what realistically can you do to minimise these costs? .
I would invite you to lead by example. Start making a few positive changes in the areas of what I call the ‘soft skills’ of wellbeing such as nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management techniques. Also, start exploring and reflecting around the more fundamental skills which I shall introduce shortly. I have found my female clients are much more likely to stick to changes to things like nutrition and exercise habits over the long term if they make one or two small changes at a time that are achievable. Really embed these changes as part of your routine before making the next few changes.
What will you commit to for the sake of your wellbeing - and that of your business?
Some of the changes that can make surprising results are simple things like drinking eight glasses water a day (the amount does depend on body size and activity level), cutting sugar and adding more protein, committing to getting one hour more sleep a night or choosing a way you can be more physically active like cycling to work twice a week.
The ‘fundamental skills’ I refer to require us to do some deeper introspection and widen our awareness of how we are at our core as a person. The coaching model I use would focus on three aspects of ourselves - our emotion, body and language. What mood or emotions do you tend to be in or that maybe have you hooked?
Does this serve you? What would a little bit more a bit less of that emotion look like for you? Are are you able to maintain a naturally buoyant energy and positive language that empathises with others yet does not subvert your needs? This is key in influencing and motivating others.
How can you move and hold your level of tension to best allow your business and the demands you face flow through you without creating stress and exhaustion?
In order to reflect on these sorts of questions it may help to ‘centre’. Get into a comfortable seated position, take five breaths slower and more deeply than normal. Bring your attention to your point of balance which is about an inch below the belly button. Mentally scan your body just noticing your breath, where your attention is and if there any particular sensations in the body like aches or tightness. Aim on your out breaths to drop the tension level in your body as well as around your jaw, eyes and nostrils. Let your energy and breath drop. From a calm and centered body you may notice you see things more clearly or are aware of more possibilities open to you.
What would it look like to be able to embody a calm and centered presence more of the time?
Enjoy being curious around centering, reflecting and stay committed to those soft skill changes. They will make a huge differnce to your wellbeing, and that of your business.
Alisa Burke practices as a Wellness Coach working with private individuals as well as facilitating corporate Wellness Programs. Her focus is helping women to be more successful without compromising on Wellness. Alisa has a Newfield Network Coach training Diploma, is certified in Personal training, has completed a Bachelors degree in Psychology and has previous career experience in Investment Banking. After 12 years in Asia, she lives in the UK with her husband, three children and Jack Russell, Archie.
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