Let's face it. People are stressed out. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S, affecting 40 million adults. That's almost 20 percent of the population.
Entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Columbia University Professor Jessica Bruder documented the brutal mental challenges that entrepreneurs face in her award-winning report, "The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship."
Speaking as a 20+ year serial entrepreneur, I confess we are gluttons for punishment.
However, experience has taught me that we also have the power and flexibility to integrate joy into our daily hectic schedules. In fact, when we take care of ourselves more, we are able to be more present for others. Self-sacrifice is not an admirable quality.
Here are 7 simple ways to find more time for joy in your day, every day.
- Wake up earlier for joy, not for work. Morning solitude presents the perfect opportunity to begin your day in a place of joy, which will then cascade through the rest of your day. Often the first thing we do as soon as we wake up is reach for our phones to check our email or the news. What usually awaits us? Bad news!
Your Call to Action: Wake up 30 minutes earlier and commit to not touching your phone. Spend the time taking a walk, making yourself a healthy breakfast, writing in a gratitude journal, sending thank you notes, or reading a book for pleasure.
A close friend starts every day with an hour of gratitude, writing hand-written thank you notes. He includes articles that his recipients will find relevant. I've received many from him, and they always make me smile.
- Grab coffee or a quick meal with someone that always makes you smile. We all have people in our life that radiate joy. A 30-minute break with someone that can lift our spirits can make a big impact in the rest of our day.
Your Call to Action: Schedule coffee with someone that always leaves you feeling good, but that you may not ordinarily get together with. No heavy discussion agenda; just quality time with a positive person.
- Attend a networking event with awesome attendees. Networking is a necessary part of business life. Event attendees greatly impact your personal event experience. Choose events that attract generous, positive people. No two professional communities are alike, but all communities take on the personalities of those in charge.
Your Call to Action. Shake it up! Attend something completely different than your usual event. If you are in the DC region, three extraordinary communities that attract the very best & brightest are CADRE (game-changing speakers and extraordinary members), ConnectPreneur (the very best quarterly event for early-stage entrepreneurs and investors), and the SOAR Community Network (a heart-centered community of leaders focused on legacy-driven leadership).
- Watch an uplifting and funny TED Talk. If you search "Humor," "Laugh," or "Funny" on the TED site, there are dozens of hysterical talks.
- Tim Urban brilliantly takes us inside the mind of a procrastinator.
- James Veitch shows us what really happens when you reply to a spam email, by sharing his long exchange with a spammer.
Your Call to Action: Schedule a 20-minute humor break, and watch a funny TED Talk.
- Watch a clip from Jimmy Fallon, or comedian John Mulaney. In 15 minutes, they will have you completely laughing and de-stressing. I highly recommend it before taking a stressful call, or wrapping up a stressful day.
Your Call to Action: Bookmark these sites and schedule 15-minute comedy breaks, especially on days in which your schedule is very full or stressful.
- Hang out with a dog or cat. Dogs are the supreme anti-stressors. Whether you are gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours, they are always happy to see you, and they think you are the greatest human being on the planet.
Your Call to Action: Schedule play time with your favorite canine or feline. Don't own one? Borrow a friend's. Don't have any friends with cool pets? Call Uber. They have launched UberPuppy in parts of the country. For $30, they will deliver you a puppy to play with. Or you can call UberKittens.
- Plan an end-of-day outing with a friend. Few things bring more joy than a planned outing with a bestie. Whether it's grabbing dinner, doing a yoga class, going on a bike ride, or just hanging on the patio with some wine & music, quality time with our friends often feels like a mini vacation.
Your Call to Action: Schedule at least two end-of-day outings per month with friends. Guard the time in your calendar as you would any other important meeting. These relationships, and your time with your friends, are essential to your well-being.
Daily joy is not an option. It's a necessity to live a satisfying life in which we can bring our best selves to those we lead and those we love. Everyone has stress. How we allow the stress to show up in our lives is up to us. Whether we laugh or not, the stress will still be there. Choose laughter!
Wishing you a joyful day!