For the Health of It
Posted by NANCY BAKANOWICZ
7 October, 2016
As a business owner, you probably tend to work long hours, leaving little time for leisure activities – or much else. While your dedication and hard work is admirable, they can have a detrimental effect on your long-term overall health. Skipped meals, lack of exercise, too much stress, not enough sleep, little downtime – any one of them alone can cause problems, but when you combine two or more, they can lead you down the road to poor health. Many experts agree that Americans don’t get enough exercise and sleep, we don’t eat right and we are under too much stress. And for some reason Americans don’t like to take their vacation time, and when they do, they often stay connected to the office! Your responsibilities as a business owner include doing your best to stay healthy, if not for yourself, then for the employees and customers who rely on you. Following are some tips on how to incorporate some health-boosting behaviors into your busy life that will help put you on the path to good health:
- Get some sleep: The number one thing you can do to improve your overall health is get more sleep. The lack of a good night’s sleep will cause you be fatigued during the day and it can really harm your health AND weight. It causes your immune system to slow down, making your more susceptible to illnesses like colds and flu. And over time, lack of sleep may also make you more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes – studies have shown that sleep may be just as important as a good diet and exercise in keeping diabetes at bay. Most experts recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to get the full health benefits. Also, too much caffeine can cause sleep problems so it’s important to reduce or eliminate coffee consumption, too.
- Clean up your diet: We all know the hallmarks of a healthy diet – more fruits, vegetables and lean meats and less processed food, salt and sugar. But when you’re a busy business owner, fitting all of that nutritious goodness into your day can be difficult. However, it can be done. The easiest way is to try swapping some of your less healthy favorites for healthier alternatives. For example, a bunless burger can save both calories and carbs, and help you get in some extra veggies, too. Switching your morning toast for plain Greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey helps you start your day with hunger-fighting protein, plus plenty of calcium and antioxidants. Another breakfast alternative is hard boiled eggs, which are easy to make and totally portable when you’re on the go. Additionally, try to eat more home-cooking and less carryout and restaurant food, which is usually very high in calories, fat and sodium.
- Exercise: Almost every health expert would agree that daily exercise is very important to overall good health. It is beneficial on almost every level – it can help you lose or maintain your weight, improve your mood, helps reduce the likelihood of chronic illnesses like diabetes, can relieve joint and muscle pain and help you sleep better – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! These benefits start with your very first workout, and increase as you continue. While most experts say that at least a half-hour of some combination of daily aerobics and weight training works best, what you choose to do is up to you. The important thing is you get moving.
- Reduce stress: As a society, we are too stressed. We simply don’t take time to stop and smell the roses, and it’s killing us. Not only is stress one of the top causes of heart disease, and subsequent early death, it is responsible for weight gain, sleep disturbances, ulcers, and many other illnesses. A simple daily leisurely walk or reading a book are both great ways to reduce stress, as is working on a hobby or craft. Some people have the benefits of yoga and tai chi to help relax and refocus the mind, and others have discovered the many positive health effects of meditation that go beyond stress relief. Whatever you choose, practice it frequently and you may just discover that you are a happier, less-stress person.
- Get away from work: Take your vacations! Whether it’s a day or a week, you will benefit from some downtime away from the office. As a business owner it might be difficult, especially if you are a sole proprietor, but you can do it. Train one or two of your most trusted employees to run the day to day operations of your business while you are gone. If you’re a solo proprietor, taking a vacation is a little more difficult, but entirely possible. Plan your vacation for the least-busy time of the year, and let your customers and clients know well in advance that you plan to take a vacation, and will only be available for emergencies. You may also be able to recruit a trusted colleague to handle important things while you are gone. But go, get away – you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated when you return!
Choosing to incorporate healthy food and activities into your day is an investment in yourself and your future. Regardless of what you choose, making healthy changes can take some getting used to and may be difficult, but the benefits – a happier, healthier, more relaxed you – are worth it. Not only will they have positive effects on your personal life, but they’ll make you a better business owner, as well, and may possibly lead your employees to make better choices in their own lives.