Many entrepreneurs can attest to the importance of taking care of yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Five entrepreneurs share their self-care hacks and how they maintain their health. They are:
- Mari Lee – CEO and founder of DevCom (Development Communication Solutions), a communications consultancy business.
- Zinhle Khumalo, founder of Ikhethelo Clothing & Textiles, a clothing manufacturing factory.
- Marelise Jacobs, designer and owner of Perkolate, a graphic design, illustration and branding company.
- Jon-Marc De Carvalho, co-founder of Frost Popsicles, which produces and distributes alcoholic and non-alcoholic popsicles.
- Thozama Hopa, founder of Zito Aluminium and Glass which specialises in the manufacturing of aluminium.
Here are 24 ideas to help you avoid burnout:
Zinhle Khumalo – “Do what works for you”
1. Take control of your schedule
In the past I would always overcommit myself and often leave things to the last minute. This creates extra stress as I would have to rearrange pretty much everything to accommodate my procrastination. I had forgotten that I am ultimately in control of my schedule and my life. With the support of SAB’s KickStart programme, I became aware of just how important ‘self-care’ is to me and my business.
2. Give yourself permission to rest
I started by giving myself permission to nourish and recharge my mind, body and spirit every day so I can meet myself where I’m at.
3. Practice self-awareness
It’s about paying attention to my current energy levels, and then asking: what would I be able to do better if I felt grounded, nurtured, free and full of energy? What’s keeping me from taking care of myself, and what one thing can I do to shift this immediately?
4. Remind yourself of your WHY
My experience has taught me that self-care is not only key to an improved mood and reduced anxiety, but is also crucial for enjoying a good relationship with oneself and others. Effective self-care means keeping a conscious mind and being aware of what you do and why you do it.
5. Do what works for you
Self-care is different for everyone and it can be as simple as getting up from the computer every half an hour to stretch, or as decadent as a weekend at a health retreat.
Marelise Jacobs – “Beware of your thoughts”
6. Consider both your mind and body
To me, self-care means more than getting a manicure every month. It also means concentrating as much on the psychological side of things as the physical. When it comes to psychological self-care, learning ways to understand and control your thoughts can make a big difference.
7. Exercise your brain
Something that I have found to be quite helpful are cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. According to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles, these therapy exercises are clinically-proven ways to improve your mood and solve difficult problems. These are techniques you can practice anywhere and almost anytime on your own without ever having to visit a psychiatrist. With that being said, if you are struggling with severe anxiety, rather seek help from a professional.
8. Beware of your thoughts
Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on realistic thoughts and thinking, not positive thinking – which can sometimes be a negative thing since you are trying to willfully suppress something which might be bothering you for a good reason. Dr. David Burns, author of Feeling Good, in his book talks of cognitive distortions that can help you to identify thoughts that may not be a true reflection of yourself. Watch his TEDTalk here.
9. Change your sleeping habits
It took me a long time to realise that my sleeping habits needed to change. As someone who is a bit of a night-owl, I enjoy my late-night movie or a series. Even though my alarm went off around 5:30 am the next morning, you would regularly find me on the couch long past 11 pm. This usually meant that I was chronically tired the next day. But, I would tell myself, that’s why Red Bull was invented.
Getting my sleep patterns under control and have [them be] consistent took an effort that was far more difficult than I imagined it would be. This kind of self-care is perhaps not glamorous or over-indulgent, but it is vital.
Mari Lee – “Cut out activities that don’t add to your goals”
10. Plan ahead
I write all my traveling [plans] in a schedule and post it on the fridge.
I plan the menu for weeks ahead with my family and housekeeper and make sure all the required items are in stock.
11. Get help or delegate tasks to avoid burnout
I have a husband who takes care of the boys when I travel, a full-time housekeeper and an au pair.
I don’t cook on weekdays, Maria [my housekeeper] does that. So, when I get home, we sit down and have supper and talk, and laugh and play. At the office, my team takes care of logistics.
12. Get the basics right
To keep my energy levels and health in check, I ensure that I can eat well (pack my snacks and lunch box) and exercise (with elastic stretch bands that pack small), and I use amenities where possible. I sleep 8 hours a night where possible, so no late nights.
13. Work when you are at work
I try and stick to work when I’m at the office and focus on it and mobilize the team to do as much as possible. I don’t like working at home, so when I am at home, I spend quality time with my family.
14. Start your day right
I do my prayer time and bible study early in the morning, as well as exercise. Fuel your soul and body, your mind gets enough during the day.
15. Cut out activities that don’t contribute to your goals
I don’t watch TV.
16. Repeat affirmations
I write a lot, so I don’t have to keep thoughts in my mind. I can always go back to my notes. I don’t sweat the small stuff and go with the flow, mostly. I don’t fear things like safety, I really trust God to deliver on His promises.
17. Make time for friends
I make time for one deep conversations with a friend every week, even when [things] get hectic. They remind me to stay real, reconnect, and to stay grounded.
18. Laugh — a lot
I don’t take myself or the things that happen while travelling (like delays) too seriously. I greet and chat with people en route, and just show kindness and give smiles.
19. Practice gratitude
I count my blessings every day. I love what I do and am super grateful to have a supportive environment that enables it.
Thozama Hopa – “Share with others”
20. Find ways to relax
Reading a book and playing chess are things I do with self-care in mind. I also watch professional boxing live as I find watching the sport helps me to relax.
21. Share with others
I have a business based in Mdantsane (Eastern Cape), home to many boxing legends, therefore I choose to sponsor a local boxing club.
Every weekend I support these young kids who show great resilience to come out of informal settlements and go out there and put their lives on the line for a better future.
Jon-Marc De Carvalho – “Be disciplined, but flexible”
22. Do what you love
It will be easier for you to find the time to do it because people always find time for things they enjoy. In fact, you will find yourself looking forward to it!
For me self-care is intrinsically linked to exercise and I am a passionate water polo player, I go to gym and I enjoy swimming.
I have made exercise part of my daily routine and find it critical to helping me clear my mind and keep me mentally agile as well as physically fit. It is also a good stress outlet.
24. Be disciplined but flexible
You need to put your head down and do it – it takes three weeks to establish a routine.
Also, keep in mind that plans may need to change but don’t consistently throw out the “self-care” element when your days and weeks are busy with you growing your business.