You can’t eliminate all the uncertainty that arises when you own a business. But you can control how you react to the demands you face as an entrepreneur. Try these three simple wellness practices to improve your mental well being, and reduce the stress that can hinder your ability to perform.
Alternate nostril breathing.
Studies estimate that 75% of entrepreneurs work more than 40 hours a week. Those long hours may help you grow your business. But they can also lead to fatigue, burnout, and stress.
If exhaustion has become a way of life, try replacing your afternoon Starbucks run with alternate nostril breathing, which has roots in yoga and Ayuverdic medicine. This simple breath practice is thought to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to calm your mind, and improve mental focus.
- Gently place your hand over the bridge of your nose so that your thumb can press gently on your right nostril to “close it off.”
- Close your eyes.
- Take a deep breath through the left nostril, inhaling for three to four counts. Before you exhale, place your ring finger over the left nostril, closing it off.
- Lift your thumb, and release the breath out of the right nostril for three to four counts.
- Leave your fingers as they are and inhale slowly through the right nostril.
- Place your thumb on the nostril, exhaling the breath through the left side.
- Repeat the process for two to five minutes, balancing the number of inhales and exhales through each nostril.
Entrepreneurs tend to be driven, curious, and high-energy. Though those traits can seem contradictory to the patience meditation requires, there are plenty of world-known entrepreneurs with “type A” personalities (including master motivator Tony Robbins and Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund) who credit meditation to their ability to manage stress, and approach their businesses with clarity.
You too can benefit from a consistent meditation practice—even if your schedule is packed, your stress level high, and your patience limited.
- Set a goal to meditate daily for three weeks, for just five to eight minutes.
- Find a comfortable space free of noise and distraction.
- Find a comfortable place to sit--even if that means sitting in your desk chair—that allows you to sit tall.
- Set a timer to signal a beginning and end of your practice.
- Focus on your breath. Inhale for a count of four. Exhale for a count of seven. Inhale for a count of four. Repeat.
- When your mind wanders (and it will), don’t give up. Just observe the thought—and let it pass.
- Bring your focus back to your breath by counting the sound of the inhale and exhale, and listening to your breath.
- As meditation becomes part of your day, increase your meditation time by just two minutes each week. Before you know it, you’ll be able to meditate comfortably for 20 to 30 minutes a day.
Creating a to do list for the day can help you prioritize and feel accomplished. But seeing a long list of tasks may not be beneficial to your stress level. Journaling is a to do list of sorts for your inner state. The goal is to spend a few minutes writing down the events of the day that were emotionally meaningful, and how they made you feel. What you write doesn’t need to be cohesive, or grammatically correct, nor does it have to result in a solution or an insight. The idea is simply to release lingering emotional reactions and anxiety the day may have produced so you can find a sense of closure to the day, and awake the next morning stress-free and renewed.