Healthy entrepreneurs make for healthy businesses

As a business owner it is all too easy to forget to take time out for yourself. The pressures of running a business are significant, and there is often no let up. But you cannot work to the best of your abilities unless you are healthy.

Winter brings a lot of pressure for business people and this is particularly true in the first months of the year, as firms battle the Christmas backlog and winter illnesses take their toll.

You cannot work to the best of your abilities unless you are healthy. And if you do take time off to recover at short notice, your business could suffer. While your personal health might not seem like a top priority during such a potentially stressful period for business, it is vital that you take some time to ensure you are in the best possible shape to take on the business challenges of the New Year.

With this in mind, here are some top tips for staying healthy this winter.

Get some sleep

The importance of sleep really cannot be overestimated. Your mental capacity will suffer if you don’t get enough sleep, and you are likely to find yourself becoming significantly less productive. Just as importantly, your immune system repairs itself while you are asleep. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to pick up a bug.

Many business owners complain that they are prevented from sleeping because they are thinking about work. There are a number of ways that you might try to combat this.

In particular, you should think about the time period between stopping work and sleeping. Many small business owners work right up until the moment they go to bed. This gives you no time to clear your mind or to relax mentally.

Try to make sure you take half an hour before bed to read a book (preferably non business related!), listen to some music, or whatever else helps you wind down. This can help ensure that you get to sleep more easily.

Don’t forget to exercise

Exercise is hugely important, both for your immune system and your mental wellbeing. But business owners often work all hours of the day, and it can be difficult to fit in regular exercise.

Cardio-vascular exercise is particularly important if you are to remain fit and alert. There are a number of ways in which you might fit cardio-vascular activity into your daily schedule. For example, if you have your own premises you might consider cycling or walking to work rather than driving or taking public transport. Alternatively, if you work from home, schedule a regular 20-minute walk. This has the dual benefit of forcing you away from the computer for a much-needed break.

Think about your diet

A good diet is perhaps the most fundamental necessity for those trying to stay healthy. But it can be difficult to eat well at work – particularly if you are grabbing a bite to eat at your desk, or between meetings.

Consider making something healthy in advance, and taking it to work with you. Make sure that you have a good balance of quick- and slow-release energy; proteins to give you a quick pick-up and carbohydrates to see you through the day.

You should also consider the importance of vitamins, particularly during the winter. With January’s short days it is quite possible to see little or no sunlight, so you should pay particular attention to your Vitamin D intake. Think about taking a reputable vitamin supplement to complement your diet.

Investigate the flu jab

Full-blown flu is enormously debilitating, and can easily see you laid up for some days. You should do all you can to avoid both conventional winter flu and the dreaded swine flu.

Unless you are judged to be ‘at risk’ (for example if you are severely asthmatic or work with children) you are unlikely to get a flu jab for free. However, there are many private practices from which you can receive the jab for around £30. This may well be a worthwhile investment, given the disruption your business could suffer if you were forced to stay in bed with flu.

It is worryingly easy to forget the importance of your personal health when engaged in the all-consuming task of running a business. But, aside from the fact that most people would consider their well-being more important than their work, your business will suffer if you are not healthy. As such, it is vital that you take some time to consider ways in which you can remain physically active, eat well, and stave off bugs.

If you are employer you may also wish to consider ways that you can encourage healthy practices amongst your staff. Placing health and well-being at the heart of your organisation will help to ensure a happy, productive workforce and a successful business.