Working for yourself is one of the most satisfying and fulfilling things that you will ever get to do.
Being in charge of your own business gives you a great sense of freedom to set your own working patterns while doing something you really enjoy.
Unfortunately, while you are in fact working for yourself, it does still mean you can be working very long hours, without the comfort of a regular monthly paycheck and still having to juggle your work and home life.
If you do become ill, there is usually no one else to pick up the reins and carry on so you need to make sure that you manage your well-being and stay healthy.
Not sure where to start? Here are 7 crucial tips that will help you to do this, even when you know there are a million and one other things on your to-do list.
1. Get some fresh air
When we become stressed out, our bodies go into overdrive. Adrenaline is pumped around the system and our blood sugar level rises to give that extra push should we need to make a swift exit. Muscles tighten in preparation for action and when it does not come, that can cause shoulder, neck and back pain.
Sitting hunched over a computer screen is also not a healthy way to spend every waking hour, so getting out of the office for a short period will pay dividends.
Breathing in fresh air, not recycled air conditioning, will help boost oxygen supply to the brain, and walking even for a short period can relax muscles, help burn off excess glucose and leave you feeling a lot better.
2. Don’t become caffeine dependent
Drink plenty of water which will help keep you hydrated and flush any toxins in the body that have built up over time. Tempting though it is to drink coffee to keep you going, it will end up with sleepless nights from being unable to wind down at the end of a busy day.
If you cannot reduce the amount you drink, then go for decaffeinated tea and coffee after 6pm so that it reduces the amount of stimulants in the bloodstream.
3. Take a break
Get to know your breaking point, and if you don’t recognise the symptoms yourself, your nearest and dearest will be able to list them. Tight shoulders, starting to snap at the slightest distraction and mood swings are amongst the signs to watch out for.
At that point taking a short break is a must, even if it means walking away from the office, spending time doing something entirely different or having a smartphone free period.
Plan longer periods of time where you can get away even if it’s just for a long weekend so that you maintain a healthier work life balance. Remember, a business trip does not count as an away break!
4. Be assertive
If you are running your own business, you need a certain amount of confidence to get things off the ground. When you’re first starting out, you will tend to take on all the work offered and more because you are not sure what, if anything, will come through next.
People soon take advantage of this and then you can easily get taken for granted the next time they want that rush job completed. Don’t be afraid to say no and to prioritize your workflow.
If you are the best in the business, the orders will still come through and you don’t have to give up your weekends and evenings to try to please everyone.
5. Eat well and exercise
We wouldn’t think of filling a diesel car with gasoline because it will foul up the engine, so neither should we expect to keep eating fast foods that are full of fat and sugar and expect to keep feeling at the top of our game.
Fresh fruit makes a great snack, as well as nuts and seeds if we feel like grazing. On the other hand, chocolate will give us a quick sugar fix and rush of energy but too many sweets can lead to being overweight, which brings on a number of health problems.
Keeping ourselves in good shape by eating the right sorts of food and exercising will ensure that our bodies remain in peak condition. Stress results in the rising of blood pressure, which forces our heart to work a lot harder.
If we are carrying around excess weight this puts added pressure on our system and can lead to heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and more. A healthy body can ensure that when we are under stressful conditions, we are able to deal with these without any long-term effects.
6. Get a life
Having an interest or hobby outside of work that is the total opposite to what you are doing will enable you to switch off and relax. It doesn’t matter what you enjoy doing, even if it is only for a few hours a week, as long as it gets you away from the source of your stress.
Camping, playing a sport, dancing or craft sessions will also help to balance your work time versus lifestyle. Being able to talk to another person about something other than work is really important, and it could be that you need that impartial individual just so that you can offload some of your angst.
7. Laugh it out
This life is not a rehearsal, but you are going to be on this planet for only a short time so you do need to make the most of it.
Make sure that you plan into your day something to do that you really enjoy. Laughter is said to be the best medicine so make sure you have something to laugh about.
At the end of the day, it’s great that you enjoy your work, but it’s more important that you enjoy your life more!
This article has been edited.
Dr. Paul Spano is the owner of Skinovate, which is part of one of Melbourne’s leading facial aesthetics and cosmetic services companies. As a successful business owner, he knows firsthand the impact of a professional, well-kept appearance in the workplace, as well as the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle for business owners and entrepreneurs. Connect with @skinovate on Twitter.