In the initial stages of a startup, you wear enough hats to satisfy a dinner reservation for a party of six. You're responsible for the product development, marketing, sales, and oh yeah, you need to get that LLC formed in the off chance you get an early customer that's willing to write a check.
These are some of the most exciting times. The early, 'what the hell's going to happen next' (although, I think there's always that feeling to some degree) can keep the endorphins flowing at higher rates than you're used to. When it's time to go to bed at the end of the 12+ hour day, it can be challenging to slow the mind down. It's easy to get to a point of feeling guilty for taking a break to read, cook dinner, or even go workout because there's still so much to do.
You have to take care of yourself along the way.
Headspace is an app I use that helps me tremendously. Each session is 10 minutes, some supported with a short animation, and is an ideal way to start my day with clarity and intention.
Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientist and Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Sara Lazar studied the benefits of meditation reducing stress. As part of her research, she took a group of people who had no previous experiences with meditating and placed them into an eight-week stress-reduction meditation class, and compared them to the other half of the group that did not meditate. From a Washington Post article dated May 2015, Lazar described the differences in brain volume in four distinct areas of those that participated in the meditation class to those that did not:
- Postier Cingulate (the biggest difference); responsible for mind wandering and self relevance
- The left hippocampus, aides in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation
- The temporo parietal junction (TPJ), which is associated with perspective talking, empathy, and compassion
- The amygdala, 'fight or flight' feeling resulting from stress, anxiety, and depression
Getting out of the office and moving around is one of my favorite ways to burn stress and simply get my mind off work. For me, it's anything endurance related; running, biking, and swimming tend to be my go-to's and also allows for a good sweat during the lunch hour.
Mayo Clinic, a medical research group based in Rochester, Minnesota, laid out seven benefits of regular exercise. Aside from combating type 2 diabetes and high-blood pressure, keeping one's workouts to a routine also positively impacts mental health. As reported, just a 30-minute workout can 'stimulate various brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.'
Step Away From the Screen
While it's easier said than done, setting the phone, laptop, and electronic devices down to take time for yourself is imperative. It's entirely consuming and overwhelming once the day starts; it can be an endless stream of emails, mobile notifications, and presentation decks that's demanding our attention.
One of things I've really enjoyed doing during my non-connected times is learning how to cook. With services like Blue Apron and GreenChef, it's step-by-step, perfectly proportioned meal-delivery companies that allows me to develop a skill I likely wouldn't otherwise take the time to craft. Another way to 'step away' has been reading; I prefer the feel of turning the pages as I go and in 2016 finished 10 books in my pursuit of getting from out behind the monitor. Here are some of my favorites from the past year:
It's impossible to do everything at once. Taking that approach sacrifices your health and the quality of work that can ultimately jeopardize future success. Health and productivity go hand-in-hand and you're only capable of being your best when you make your well-being a priority.
How do you break from the daily grind? Share in the comments below.
Photo Cred: Headway