Entrepreneurs suffer fewer chronic health problems than the general U.S. population, a 2012 Gallup poll shows. The tendency of the self-employed to be self-disciplined apparently leads them to maintain healthier personal habits than the average American.
Here are six healthy habits that can boost your performance on the job:
1. Smiling at others — One of the best ways to reduce work-related stress is to cultivate the simple habit of smiling at the people around you. Smiling relieves stress, and mindfully making happy facial expressions lifts one’s mood. Yes, your surroundings affect your mood, too, but consciously turning your frown upside down can make your outlook more positive. That’s a compelling reason to put a smile on your face!
2. Carrying a water bottle — Chronic dehydration has some nasty side effects, including headaches and an inability to focus. It can also bring on a bad mood. The cure for this type of crankiness is simple: Drink a lot of water. Take your weight in pounds and divide by 16. That is the number of 8 ounce servings of water you should aim for each day. Make a habit of carrying a water bottle everywhere.
3. Welcoming the sandman — You likely already know chronic sleep deprivation can hinder your performance, but sleep-deprived executives also suffer from flatter emotions, according to a university study. Because empathy and emotional insight provide fuel for innovation and creativity, flattened emotions often lead to poor executive decision-making. Make getting some shut-eye a priority.
4. Take notes — The humble notepad is a powerful tool in the hands of an entrepreneur. Taking notes via pen and paper (or an electronic device) tends to relieve stress, because it allows you time to compose your thoughts before responding to issues you’re facing. It also demonstrates to others that you’re paying close attention to their words. Carry a notepad to capture those flashing moments of insight that hit you, too.
5. Knowing when to say no — Healthy entrepreneurs regularly use one critically important two-letter word: no. Setting limits is healthy, but surprisingly hard for many entrepreneurs to do. Yet, saying no helps to preserve your personal and professional resources for new opportunities that can yield profitable returns.
6. Managing stress naturally — As it turns out, being grateful provides some natural stress relief. So does acknowledging your situation and finding constructive ways to mitigate any problems. It’s all too easy to gulp down a beer at the end of the workday as a means to unwind, but self-medicating with alcohol can pack on the pounds and may disturb sleep patterns, too (see #3). Face the issues head-on and defuse their underlying causes.