Entrepreneurship can be a stressful endeavor.
It’s a path that most people never consider – and for good reason.
It seems more difficult, more uncertain, and scarier in general. You don’t have a boss telling you where to be, when to be there, or what to do. It’s all up to you. This freedom can be amazing, but at times, it can also be a huge weight on your shoulders.
If you don’t know how to manage the stress that this causes, you can quickly fall into a negative spiral (we’ve all been there) . But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Your stress doesn’t have to control you.
By developing and maintaining healthier habits, you can get through stressful times while keeping your sanity (and producing at a high rate).
Here’s a look at seven ways entrepreneurs, like you, can stay healthy during stressful times.
What do Oprah Winfrey, billionaire Ray Dalio, and Jerry Seinfeld all have in common? Besides a profound level of professional achievement – they meditate every day – and credit meditation as a key to their success.
And they’re not the only ones. Meditation, at its core is spending time in quiet thought, and it is becoming recognized as a potential game changer for health, stress management and clarity.
The benefits are vast: improved focus, mental clarity, sleep and heart health; less stress and anxiety, etc. All of these things contribute to a reduction is stress.
You can simply sit for 10 minutes in the morning and focus on your breathing. I recommend using an app like Headspace to get started and build the habit.
2. Create a morning routine
Most people wake up, rush to get ready and stress sets in at sunrise. But there’s a better way. Following a solid morning routine is essential to keep stress at bay. Benjamin Franklin was purportedly a huge advocate of morning routines (and he turned out to be pretty successful).
Every day from 5am-8am, he would rise, wash up, pray, set out his goals, plan his day, study something new and eat breakfast.
Now, ask yourself, “What good shall I do this day?”
Your morning routine doesn’t have to take hours, but it’s helpful if it contains habits relating to your physical health (i.e. exercise, yoga, eating healthy breakfast), mental health (i.e. meditation, showing gratitude, reading) and productivity (i.e. goal setting, planning.
3. Lift weights
When you lift weights, your body releases endorphins (your “feel good” hormones). These hormones help to reduce stress. More endorphins are released when you lift weights than when you do cardio, which is why you should pick up the dumbbells and get to it!
4. Cook healthy meals
If you put bad food into your body, you’ll feel bad and more stressed. It’s common sense, but most people ignore it. Focus on eating whole foods and avoid junk. The more healthy whole foods you eat (i.e. organic vegetables and grass-fed meats), the better you’ll feel, and the more equipped you’ll be to handle stress.
Limit the number of times you eat out at restaurants (even healthy restaurants) because you never know exactly what they put in your food (it’s often tons of sodium, unhealthy oils, and other ingredients that can cause some serious brain fog). Not to mention, it’s also a lot cheaper to cook at home.
5. Take yoga classes
While Yoga helps you increase flexibility, the primary purpose is to improve your breathing. When you adopt a consistent yoga routine (1-2 times a week), you’ll improve your breathing.
This is huge for stress reduction because short breaths add to stress – and yoga helps you take longer, deeper breaths to relax (and have more mental clarity in general).
6. Spend time with amazing people
Famed motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I’ve found this to be true over and over again.
If you hang out with negative, stressed people, you’ll feel more negative and stressed. But if you hang around successful, driven, positive individuals who push you to be your best, you’ll obviously be a lot better off.
Plus, you’ll develop great relationships, which are a huge part of reducing stress and feeling happy. The key is to have standards for who you spend time with.
7. Reward yourself daily
You don’t need to grind out work during all of your waking hours. In fact, this is bad for productivity.
At the end of the day, it’s good to reward yourself for your work by doing something you enjoy. Perhaps it’s watching a movie, reading fiction, hiking, or something else. The important thing is that you can look forward to the reward at the end of each day – and this helps reduce your stress.
With a combination of these habits, you can get through stress and maintain a baseline level of happiness. Once you let the stress go, everything else will become much easier.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. In 2016, Answer 1 will achieve record revenues while also being awarded the Top Companies to Work For in Arizona award. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership. Connect with @answer1 on Twitter.