As an entrepreneur, especially if you’re just starting out, relaxation may be one of the last things on your mind but the fact is everyone needs some downtime, especially if you have a hectic working life. Relaxation can be the perfect way to destress, get creative, “take stock” and get a fresh perspective. It also means that you can avoid burnout.
Taking a break from a constantly busy, stressful, and full-speed-ahead lifestyle will do wonders for your body as well as your business. If you are under constant pressure to come up with ideas, meet deadlines, make it to meetings on time, and more, your body is likely worn down and tired. By taking a break for a few days, your body will have time to relax and re-charge. After a break from the office, you will undoubtedly return to work feeling calm and energized, which is a great combination for any entrepreneur.
Here are some of our top tips for making time to relax even when you’re working hard:
- Set yourself some limits – work/life balance is important, as is productivity. After a certain number of working hours you stop being productive. Know when to call it a day and take some down time. Working without taking a break can actually hinder your productivity, come back with a fresh pair of eyes after chilling out.
- Do something you enjoy during your relaxation time – and no, we don’t mean work! It could be spending time with your kids, taking a walk, reading a book, gardening, a massage or…anything that needs your full focus.
- Digital detox – it can be harder than ever to truly switch off and get away from the office as everyone is always connected via smartphone. Switch off the iPad, turn your phone to voicemail and just take some time where you don’t check your work emails or take any calls during the day to destress and unwind.
- Apps to help you organize and re-energize – some people relax with a digital detox, others embrace technology to do the relaxation part for them. There’s a myriad of apps aimed at downtime, meditation, organization and white noise. If you’re a movie buff or a sports fan, take time to catch up on the go.
- Exercise – do something you enjoy to release those endorphins and take your mind off other things. Even better, do some exercise outside and get some fresh air and distraction from your working day. There are very few entrepreneurs who don’t manage to fit in a gym session or sport around their busy lifestyle.
- Spend time with the people you love – friends, family, kids. Make the most of uninterrupted and focused time with them, sit down and eat meals together, have a day together. Just make sure that you show your appreciation for those who support you the most.
- Take vacations – The chances are, your business is your baby and you might feel uneasy leaving it in someone else’s hands. Or maybe you struggle to let go and realize that other people can do what you need them do without direct supervision. That’s why it’s important to build a team that you trust who can handle your business even if you’re not there. With proper planning, scheduling a short vacation away from the office needn’t be a strain – you could return back to the office feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges!
- Pet an animal – there’s a reason so many startups have dogs in the office! It’s proven that time petting an animal can lower stress levels and help with relaxation and anxiety.
One of the most important things is to protect the time you spend relaxing and resist that urge to “just reply to one email” or “take one call.” Startup life generally means that you already spend a lot of time working, so balancing this is extra important.
Another good tip is to plan in advance how you build in this relaxation time – it’s not always infallible to do it this way, but it’ll get you more into the habit. Prepare, work out schedules, make lists, ensure that deadlines are met well ahead of time; do whatever you need to do to achieve that down time. If you’re struggling to make time for yourself, you may even consider bringing in a professional life coach or therapist to support you. You’d put everything else in an expert’s hand so why not this?
Brian Halligan, CEO of marketing and sales platform HubSpot, is a huge proponent of naps as a way to recharge during the day. He believes in them so much, he made sure there’s a nap room in the company’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, office.
“We ask a lot of our HubSpot employees,” Halligan says. “We’re a fast-growing software company, so everyone from our engineers to our sales reps and support team work really hard to grow the business. Providing a nap room onsite means they can recharge in the middle of a long day, recover from a tough week of travel or just have a quiet place to think in the midst of a big project. Naps make our employees happier and more productive, which is a win for them and for the company long term.”
Russell Benaroya, who co-founded health care and fitness startup EveryMove, is an avid trail runner and often escapes to Mt. Si in the Washington Cascades to clear his mind. “I’m a trail guy,” Benaroya says. “It’s where I find my peace, where I feel accomplished, and where I calm myself down amidst the intensity of building EveryMove. I always come off the mountain more resolved and committed to making a difference and confident that we’ll make it happen.”
Jared Lerner, president of Just Live, which produces performance and lifestyle apparel, believes it’s essential to wind down after work and clear your mind. His trick? Leaving his smartphone indoors and taking his kids out to feed the ducks in the lake behind his home in Florida.
“Getting back to nature and taking the time do something as simple as tossing bread for ducks,” Lerner says, “is a terrific way to disconnect from work, stress and the constant buzz of technology.”