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Stop Your Business From Ruining Your Health
 

Short temper, weight gain, and high stress: Your business is doing this to you. Make these simple fixes to boost your mental and physical well-being.

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As Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail recently reported, many entrepreneurs put their businesses before their health. Citing a new survey from Manta, the paper claims that the touch business climate this year has led to less healthy living among owners. One in three told pollsters they are working out less. Twenty-two percent have gained weight and 14 percent admitted to being more short-tempered due to the strain.

These statistics might shock a personal trainer or a dietician, but they won't come as a surprise to many coffee-swilling, desk-bound young entrepreneurs, many of whom are all too well aware they don't have the time to hit the gym or eat healthily. You probably can't do much about how hard you work in the short-term, but that doesn't mean there's nothing entrepreneurs with expanding waistlines and shrinking tempers can do to improve their health despite their long hours.

Katie Morell, for example, recently gave tips on the American Express OPEN Forum blog. Some, like "have a plan" and stick to it, are probably familiar to you and not terribly helpful, but a few of the tips she relays from personal trainer Don Miguel, bear repeating. Morell writes:

  • Keep water on hand. According to Miguel, most people have trouble differentiating thirst from hunger. So keep a full water bottle within reach and take a swig every time you get the urge—it can help curb snacking cravings.
  • Eat with intention. It's easy to reach for the sweets or savories, but try keeping more healthy treats around such as nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  • Breathe. Stress can lead to overeating and an increase in blood pressure. Miguel says it's vital to take 30 seconds and focus on your breathing. "A mere 30 seconds may seem like infinity to stop what you are doing at your desk, but it can relax your shoulders and decrease your stress level," he says. Breathe deeply through your nose and out your mouth, Miguel advises. And do it as often as possible.

Miguel and Morell aren't the only ones with tips to help entrepreneurs. Freelance Switch also had tips and reminders recently, including:

  • Ergonomics. Making sure you are comfortable and supported while you spend hours in front of the computer can make a difference—especially when your other option is to fork over money for a weekly massage or worse, wait until the pain is unbearable and end up in bed. 
  • Health Insurance. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have health insurance coverage. It would be a good idea to look into a policy for a self-employed person. You don't want to not go see a doctor when you really need to, which would only exacerbate the problem. Whether it's stress or carpal tunnel syndrome, access to a doctor is important and could make a huge impact on your life. Staying healthy might not be your top priority…but it shouldn't be something you overlook.

What tips and tricks do you have to keep (relatively) in shape while starting up a business?

Last updated: Dec 22, 2011

JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.
@EntryLevelRebel




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