Health can be defined in many ways,
and maybe most importantly, how you feel on a day-to-day
basis. When you look at the life of an entrepreneur, you
realize that optimal health and well-being is potentially more
important to doing your job well than anything else. If you
are always tired or can’t think clearly, are you making things
harder for yourself than they should be? It helps if you stay
healthy and don’t stack any more odds against you than you already
There are several aspects of living a healthy lifestyle that one should look at as components of feeling better:
This could be the number one reason people don’t feel well. Sleep is potentially the most critical activity to normal functioning of the human body. Studies have shown that lack of sleep contributes to impaired analytical thinking, reduced physical performance, negative mood and even weight gain since sleep can affect your hunger hormones.
Here are some items you can do to create a better environment for sleeping:
1. Make sure the room is completely blacked out from any light (a digital alarm clock is OK, but the numbers should be red, I’ll explain below)
2. The room should be between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 21 degrees Celsuis). Do you remember the last time you slept well in a hot room?
3. Reduce late evening use of your laptop, computer, TV, or any white electronic screens. These screens have actually been shown to reduce the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep at night. One fantastic free application for both Windows and Mac is called Flux. It will remove the “blue light” from your screen, which is what affects your melatonin production. You can grab the app here: http://stereopsis.com/flux/
The next most important aspect is what you put into your body. I’m not going into the details here since this is a huge topic and one I’ll write more about in subsequent articles. Here are what I consider two tenants of a good diet:
- Eat real food: This means it can’t be processed. Some examples of real foods are meat, fruit, vegetables, and tubers (potatoes). Many people will eat grains, such as rice, corn, wheat, quinoa, couscous, and so on. The benefits of these are debatable and will take a closer look at later. One might wonder, how could a staple of Middle Eastern culture not be good for us?
- Avoid Sugar: Excess sugar is one of these small things that adds up quickly. If you generally stick to real food, your only sugar will come from some very sweet fruits, carrots, beets, and corn. Potatoes don’t count as sugar because they are specifically a starch (as are other grains except corn). Your body generally knows how to handle starch much better than sugar. Overall, avoiding candy, snacks, and convenience foods will help you avoid this surprisingly addictive substance.
There are many more items here to avoid for good health which I’ll go into more thoroughly in a future article.
Exercise and Movement:
Most people know that exercise is good for them. What people don’t realize is how even a little movement is good for you. Most of us sit all day long, but sitting in a chair for many hours has been shown to impair our ability to manage our blood sugar after eating, and is one of the reasons we may get tired after lunch. Here are three things you can do to improve your sitting time:
1. Get up every 30-45 minutes for 3-5 minutes at a time. This will get your blood flowing and give you a mental break as well. In addition, this is a necessary break for your eyes so that you aren’t looking at a fixed focal length for so long.
2. Go for a walk after lunch. This has been shown to help you process your meal better and even relax you. You get even more benefit if you go for a walk in an actual natural setting, such as a park or the woods (this is easier said than done for most)
3. Try standing at your desk for periods of time while you do your work. If you’re just typing emails or researching something, try putting your laptop on a ledge somewhere and working that way for a while (you could also try raising your monitor if you have a desktop). This is a great way to get out of the habit of always sitting.
Overall, I view sleep, diet and exercise as the three biggest factors to human health. If you strip out all the things modern society has developed for us, these are the essential aspects of living that humans have been cycling through for millions of years. It’s not surprising that these form the foundation for well-being, even in today’s technologically and medically advanced world. As an entrepreneur, the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself so that you can sustain performing at your best while running your company.