In his novel Son of the Circus, John Irving tells the story of an Indian doctor and his work with the denizens of a local circus. In one pivotal scene, the leader of the circus tells the doctor a parable about a man charged with the task of taking care of his family. The story is filled with what appear to be selfish acts on behalf of the man, until he gets to the moral at the end – that the man cannot take care of his family if he does not take care of his own needs first. Although those sentiments were expressed by a fictional character, they still hold true in real life.
You cannot take care of anything in your life, your home, your family, or even your business, if you do not take care of yourself first.
Taking Care of The Inside
Running your own business can often mean long hours, a lot of stress, bad dietary choices, and very little sleep. To compensate, you might end up relying on coffee to stay awake, and overindulging in alcohol, cigarettes, and other vices to unwind. All of this can take a serious toll on your health.
- Give yourself time off each week to rest and regroup;
- Try to get a full night’s sleep. If you find that you have trouble getting or staying asleep, consult your physician about your options for sleep aids;
- Have regular yearly doctor’s appointments to make sure your health numbers – blood pressure, blood sugar, and other factors – are in the healthy range;
- If you have a chronic condition, check in with your doctor to make sure that your condition is under control;
- If you smoke, quit or at least cut back significantly. You might also consider e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine but do not contain the smoke and tar of regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes are available at drug stores, convenience stores, and you can also buy e-cigarette kits from online retailers;
- If you consume alcohol, reduce your consumption to no more than one serving per day. A standard serving of alcohol varies depending on the percent of alcohol by volume. Generally, the higher the alcohol content, the smaller the serving. If you find that you are unable to cut back, consult your physician or a mental health professional;
- Pack healthy snacks, and try to schedule breaks for meals;
- Schedule at least one night per week where you prepare a healthy dinner for yourself. If you don’t know how to cook, consider signing up for a healthy cooking class which will teach you the basics, and give you the opportunity to network;
- Take a multi-vitamin to replace the nutrients that might be missing from your diet;
- Restrict your caffeine intake to less than more than 400 mg, or four eight-ounce cups of coffee, per day.
Taking Care of the Outside
Just as long hours can take their toll on your health, they can also take their toll on your appearance. Fatigue and lack of sleep can cause dark circles and puffy eyes, which make you look old and tired. A poor diet can make your skin and hair look dull, and cigarettes and alcohol can discolor your teeth.
- Consider using natural eye treatments, such as cucumbers and tea bags, to remove puffiness and dark circles;
- Drink plenty of water to keep your skin and hair hydrated;
- Schedule a trip to the barber or salon, at least once every two months, for a cut or trim and a deep conditioning treatment;
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste designed to whiten and build enamel;
- Visit your dentist at least once every six months for regular cleanings and checkups;
- Use over-the-counter treatments for adult acne outbreaks. If you have severe outbreaks, consult your physician to determine your prescription options;
- Take care of your fingernails and toenails, or schedule regular mani-pedi treatments, which can also give you the opportunity to relax;
- Occasionally splurge on a massage or a spa treatment, which will condition and soothe your skin and help you relax.
Taking the time to take care of yourself can ultimately make you more productive and effective at your job.