For sidepreneurs, health is of critical importance. We need physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy to concentrate and focus. Our driven nature causes us to forget we have limited resources. We think we can work 20 hours a day, spend family time, and create our side business without impacting our health. But that is not possible.
Below, I share some basic, simple “baby steps” to include in your daily routine to protect your health so you can accomplish your dreams.
Drinking a healthy amount of water is foundational for energy, boosting metabolism, clear thinking and even processing emotions. Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, mood swings and poor concentration. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
My simple recipe for hydration is to drink one-half your body weight in ounces of water daily and include ¼ tsp. of natural, unprocessed salt like Celtic sea salt, Himalayan crystal salt or pink salt for every 32 oz. of water. I recommend using the natural unprocessed salt so your cells absorb the water, truly hydrating you as well as providing minerals to alkalize you and nourish your adrenal glands.
Buy a pitcher or carafe that will hold your water for the day and periodically refill your glass until it’s all gone! People think they won’t like putting the salt in the water, but most end up really enjoying it. If you don’t, just include the right amount of salt with your food daily. For those who find plain water hard to get down, you can also find fruit infuser water pitchers and bottles and make your own healthy flavored water! Add herbs like mint or basil and fruits or veggies like lemon, berries or cucumbers. The water will have some flavor, but still be zero calorie and you reap the health benefits of the fruit, veggie or herb you include as an added benefit!
Action Step: Gradually increase water intake to one-half your body weight in ounces and include ¼ tsp. of unprocessed salt for every 32 oz.
2. Eat Simple, Natural Foods
I find for myself that eating a low carb, moderate protein and healthy fat diet works best. We are all biochemically unique so you must structure your diet in the way that works best for you. That being said, the foundation is to create your meals from the best quality fresh, whole, real, one-ingredient foods. That means chicken, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, eggs, apples—these are what I call “one-ingredient foods.” They are ingredients, they don’t have ingredients. Choose real food, not fake foods or food-like products found in packages or through a drive thru window!
Using one day a week to prep some simple meals and snacks that reduce your choices will simplify meal time and eliminate the temptation to snack on things that don’t provide you with nutrition and energy.
Hard boil some cage free eggs for a quick, nutritious energy snack or fill some small sandwich bags with some nuts and seeds. Keep fresh veggies clean and ready to grab for a quick snack.
Action Step: Choose real, one-ingredient foods from which to create your meals and snacks.
3. Balance Activity and Rest
There is a fine line here. You need rest and you need activity. Sitting for long periods of time, even if you regularly exercise, is as dangerous to your health as smoking! You don’t want to be “actively sedentary.” Scientist Katy Bowman says, “Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day… You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
I suggest setting a timer on your phone or FitBit so you can remember to get up every 30-40 minutes and move! Stretch, walk around, do a few squats, wall pushups, lunges or a 60 second wall sit! It gets blood circulating. Make every bathroom break a movement break as well! God designed our bodies to be active.
Standing desks are popular today but if you can’t invest in something like that right now, besides these activity breaks, consider sitting on an exercise ball for a few hours a day! You will be engaging core muscles while you sit.
Action Step: Set a timer to remind you to get up and move and breathe deeply every 30-40 minutes.
Scheduling regular times for intentional exercise will not only keep you fit but will help you manage stress. The key is to choose something you enjoy doing so you will do it consistently! If you love walking in nature and can schedule time for that regularly, that’s great. You may enjoy playing tennis, swimming, hiking or biking—that’s great. Find what you like to do and then just do it! Going to a gym isn’t your only option.
Action Step: Find some type of activity you enjoy and that you will do consistently and just do it!
Adequate, restful sleep is non-negotiable and critical to consolidate memories and learning and to allow your organs replenish and rejuvenate themselves. We may not all need exactly the same number of hours to function optimally but according to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 6 and 9 hours.
Be sure your bedroom is a peaceful haven for restful sleep. Do not allow computers, work related papers or clutter. If you have trouble falling asleep, a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase can help relax you and a sound machine that plays different types of “white noise” can also be very soothing.
It’s important to go to sleep early enough, when you’re tired, otherwise your body releases the stress hormone cortisol to keep you awake which not only causes a stress response but makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This becomes a vicious cycle of being sleep deprived, overtired and stressed. You end up tired but wired and unable to sleep.
Action Step: Make 6-9 hours of restful sleep a non-negotiable. And go to sleep when you are tired, don’t force yourself to stay awake longer.
Rest and Rebooting
If you try to work without taking breaks, eventually you will break! Would you start your car in the driveway and put a brick on the gas pedal and just let it run all day? Of course not! Well, you can’t do that to yourself either.
For me as a Christian, prayer and meditation on scripture is not only the preferred way to align myself and my day but also to reboot, especially during particularly stressful times.
One of the absolute best ways to reboot is to take a nature break. A brisk walk outside, especially in the middle of your day, will get you recharged and ready to focus. If you work in a city or someplace where you can’t get in nature, studies show even just looking at pictures of nature will boost creativity and activate the areas of the brain associated with productivity!
When your timer rings to remind you to get up and move—get in the habit of taking 5 slow, deep breaths. That will oxygenate your brain, give you a burst of energy and relieve stress.
A great way to give yourself a break and relieve stress is to color. Yes, I mean use colored pencils or crayons like your 5 year old does! There are a huge number of wonderful adult coloring books to choose from. Researchers suggest they are an effective alternative to meditating and can reduce anxiety, create focus and bring about more mindfulness. There are some beautiful coloring books that have scripture verses—that combines two effective methods of rebooting!
Don’t think it’s a waste of time to just sit quietly and daydream now and then! Disconnecting from the routine of the day with no other agenda can really refresh your outlook and boost productivity.
Action Step: Choose one of these suggestions for taking regular breaks throughout the day. Find things that replenish you and do them daily.
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