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19 Tips for a Healthier Mind, Body and Start-up

You’ve committed to making your new venture work. You are determined to fund the project, the hype is building and you are starting to see your once crazy business idea as a viable opportunity. After 6 months, the endless amount of hours are probably starting to wear on you, and the last time you sat down to eat a real meal was 2011. You need to find a balance quickly before the business gets the best of you. Here are 19 best practices to guarantee a healthier mind, body and start-up.

1. Schedule your life (not just your work)
When you lay out your calendar for the week don’t fill it with work meetings, networking events and typing at your computer. Make appointments with your trainer at the gym and add your kids little league games to your evening schedule. Start-ups quickly become your life, so make sure to prioritize your health at the top.

2. Shut down
We are controlled by our smart phones, Mac computers and WIFI connections. Avoid burn out by taking time at the end of the day to turn off the electronics controlling your life and detoxing from staring at screens. The emails will still be there in the morning.

3. Keep learning
Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Make time to keep up on the news and sharpen your mind. Be an interested person and you will be more interesting to be around. Don’t ever stop asking why and do the research to find the answer yourself.

4. Get your workout in
Stop making excuses around your health. Quit putting off your workout due to your busy schedule and make time for you. Keeping a routine gym schedule (morning workouts are the easiest to squeeze into your busy schedule) will help you lower stress, anxiety… and any extra weight!

5. Don’t skip meals
When you are starting up your company, food seems to be an afterthought, especially breakfast. Skipping meals will cause your blood sugar to drop and leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Even if it’s an apple on the run to hold you over until you can eat a more nutritious meal, keep your body fueled so you can perform at your best.

6. Do Yoga
Yoga helps lower your blood pressure, improve sleep and increase flexibility. It doesn’t come natural to most people, it’s a skill you need to practice to be good at, not just the physical movements of yoga but the ability to also relax your mind.

7. Pack a lunch
Be prepared with healthy food throughout the day. You might argue that lunch is your time to network with fellow colleagues so you have to eat out every day, but this can quickly pay a toll on your health. Either eat before you join them or have a restaurant pre-picked that you know you can order a healthy meal at. Keep fruits, vegetables and almonds in your office refrigerator so when you do get hungry you already have food ready.

8. Have hobbies outside of work
Join an intramural team, travel or volunteer. Be involved with activities that interest you outside of work. This will allow you to meet new people, hear new philosophies and feel accomplished outside of work. Building relationships across industries, and in a more laid back atmosphere can open the door to new opportunities

9. Have a mentor
Find someone older and wiser that can be your go-to person for advice, guidance and inspiration. Mentors aren’t your parents or friends – their purpose is to give you honest answers and objective advice. Be open to their critiques and learn from their experiences.

10. Be a mentor
There is nothing more rewarding than paying it forward. You have the chance to pass on your own experiences and knowledge and help someone else succeed. Being a mentor gets you outside of your own world and gives you the opportunity to help the next generation.

11. Say Thank You
No matter how many business ideas fail, or hiccups along your start-up road, there is always something to be grateful for. Give yourself time to say thank you. I take 20 – 30 minutes every Friday to write thank you notes to everyone who helped me, signed a contract or had a birthday. By saying thank you more often, your employees and clients will feel appreciated and will stick by you.

12. Get a good night’s sleep
Everyone’s body needs a different amount of sleep, but ideally the more rest you give your body, the more recharged you will be for the next day. Don’t take sleep for granted, give yourself 6 – 8 hours a night. Use strategic power naps throughout the day to re-energize yourself. Find your system and make it work – but let your body sleep, your start-up will thank you for it!

13. Declutter
Keep your desk organized, your office clean and mind clear. Go through your piles and files and detox what doesn’t need to be there. A cluttered work space will lead to a cluttered mind and increase your stress levels. Take time during each week to keep your computer files, desk, office and home clean.

14. Don’t eat at your desk
We all do it, we get busy and can’t imagine leaving our desk for 10 minutes to eat lunch. Use lunch as an excuse to give your mind a break. Taking a walk or sitting away from your screen for 20 minutes can boost your productivity and kickstart your creativity again.

15. Stay hydrated
Drink more water than you think you need. Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk and drink at least 3 of them by the end of the day. Yes, you will probably need to take more bathroom breaks, but that will get you up walking around instead of sitting at your desk.

16. Learn to say No
Prioritize your meetings, social gatherings and outside activities, and learn to say no. Don’t spend time at events that aren’t productive towards achieving your goals. Saying no can free your time up to focus on the people and events in your life that really matter.

17. Make to-do lists
Next time you tell someone you will call them tomorrow, write it down. Avoid keeping your to do list in your head, get it on paper. Find a system that works for you whether it is a paper and pen method like me, or an online list that syncs with your calendar online.

18. Get to know your employees/partners
Your culture in the office will be centered on how well you communicate and care about your fellow co-workers. Take the time to get to know them past just the weekly happy hour and morning coffee break. Take an interest in what they are passionate about, and in return I guarantee they will show interest in your hobbies.

19. Build lifestyle into your brand
From the beginning, focus your start up on a work life balance. Start habits early such as adding exercise, healthy meals and time off into your schedule. If you fail to focus on the big picture and how you can make your startup a sustainable business in line with your lifestyle, your mind, body and start up will suffer.