One of the main reasons I experienced the fight of my life with breast cancer a decade ago is chronic stress. I had jogged, been active most of my life and kept my weight under control but I got cancer. Why?
I know the answer now. Stress is a leading cause of most preventable diseases, and cancer is a biggie. Ok, so maybe I should have eaten healthier on a regular basis, too, but a regular exercise routine, while good for you, is also just an excuse — especially during our younger years to not eat well. Now, in my late fifties, I get the picture. Cancer is preventable and it takes a lot more than exercise to beat it in the long run.
What I learned is that ambitious, goal-driven people often push right on through the tough roadblocks in life. They make the mistake of accepting stress as merely part of the process of achieving, succeeding and winning.
Let’s face it, as a long-time entrepreneur, I’ve come to realize that stress is part of owning your own business. It can lead to impatience, insomnia, forgetfulness, mood swings, restlessness, boredom, and temper outbursts. Clearly, this type of stress can impact how well we’re able to do our jobs. It ruins quality of relationships in addition to making us sick.
So why was I letting stress take over my life again. Hadn’t I learned a lesson? Hadn’t I learned that when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to manage your stress and serve and care for others? Absolutely!
So, get some structure to your life. Figure out a system for getting healthy and staying that way. It’s like running a business. Develop a plan, a road map on how to achieve good health.
Yes, I know. Your days are full and you have no time for preventative maintenance. Besides, you are probably thinking that cancer or some other type of chronic disease won’t happen to you…I thought that once too. But that’s absurd, don’t you agree? So let’s get down to business.
It’s okay to start small. Set aside 30 minutes for self-care daily. Start when you wake up or just before you go to bed. At least opt for an hour of “me” time every weekend. The key is to start.
Uncertain of what self-care looks like? Here are a few tips:
Get enough sleep. Many of us skimp on sleep, telling ourselves we have too much to do. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says sleep helps your brain work properly and enhances your creativity as well as your problem-solving and decision-making skills — all essential to your business success! Lack of it makes you feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel depressed or lack motivation.
Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy is good for your physical health, and it can increase your productivity. Fresh foods rich in vitamins and minerals have been associated with a lower risk of depression and stress.
Exercise. Innumerable studies show that exercise reduces stress, clears your mind, and keeps you fit and healthy. Go for walks, practice yoga, jog, hit the gym … find something that feels GOOD, and do it!
Treat yourself. Whether you love massages, pedicures or a glass of wine, you should treat yourself regularly.
Take breaks. Stand up after being at the computer every 30 minutes. Set a timer, and when it goes off, take a stroll to clear your mind. Stretch your body too.
Spend time enjoying hobbies. Read, visit art galleries and museums, walk around the Historic District on these beautiful spring days. Take photos as well. When you incorporate self-care into your routine, you’ll perform more effectively at work by better serving your clients and relaxing, and enjoying the time you spend with family and friends.
You’ll also be more productive, happier and less stressed. Right?