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3 personal care practices to reduce work-related stress

Editorial Team

5 min read
Woman on bench looking at horizon

Creating balance is the key to most things in life. Often though, work and responsibilities get in the way of maintaining that perfect harmony – especially if you’re a small business owner. Over half of Canadian entrepreneurs surveyed in 2019 reported working longer hours and struggling with taking time off when needed. Around the same number said they’ve experienced increased stress since becoming a business owner, many giving up hobbies they used to enjoy. And that was before the added stressors of the pandemic.

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What does clocking in and out even mean when you’re running your own business? Especially if you’re working any amount from home, separating work from the rest of your life can feel like a daily challenge. Being your own boss means the freedom to make your own schedule. But the demands of running a small business, particularly during trying times, can easily occupy most of your brain power, and eventually your entire day.

But carving out time for yourself to relax and recharge is essential to avoiding burnout. Maintaining good mental health doesn’t just improve quality of life, it can also lead to higher productivity and clearer decision making at work. Think of it as a win-win for yourself and your business.

It’s no secret that habits are the basis of human behavior. Studies show that introducing healthy habits into your routine can lead to sustained behavioral change. In other words, motivating yourself to take a walk in the middle of your workday may initially present a mental challenge, but with time it could become part of a routine that has you breathing more fresh air.

Here are three personal care practices to try incorporating into your day.

1.  Clear your mind with meditation

All it takes to meditate is a place to sit and however long you’ve got (anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes). It’s not an elaborate or opaque process, though it can definitely be a challenge to quiet your mind even for a moment. But regular meditation has major transformational benefits, including lower stress levels and better mood.

There are loads of apps out there to help you get started. Headspace and Calm are regularly rated among the top options by experts. Both apps feature strategies tailored toward better sleep, which is always a plus.

2.  Make time for a daily walk

The best things in life are free, and fresh air is one of them. Particularly after a year of spending so much time indoors, simply getting outside can feel like a joyous adventure. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, entails opening up your senses to natural surroundings and relishing a certain sense of harmony. All you need are trees, and grass if you can find it.

The health benefits of walking may seem obvious, but some of them may surprise you. Walking has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, boost immunity, and even keep a sweet tooth in check. No matter the pace or distance, taking even a brief walk to move your body and get some air will do wonders for your day.

3.  De-stress through stretching

Even 10 minutes and a few low-intensity moves can get the blood flowing and release pent-up tension. Whether you spend most of the day on your feet or hunched over a computer, chances are your body is accustomed to some pretty contorted positions. You don’t need to carve out time for a full workout to reap the benefits of exercise. Try these three moves, or some combination, and see what feels good to you. Of course, if you have any injuries or discomfort, consult a medical professional before attempting anything outside of your usual routine.

Posture-improving pushup

Staying mindful of your posture throughout the day can be helpful, but at some point most of us settle into what’s comfortable. Strengthening the serratus muscles in your upper back will help knit your shoulder blades together, naturally broadening your chest and improving your posture. Try this series of moves, which progresses from a seated serratus pushup to the real thing.

Upper-back stretch

Many of us hold tension in our upper backs and necks, where a good friend or partner might naturally go to rub our shoulders. This simple move, sometimes called “threading the needle,” gives the spine a little twist and the shoulders a gentle stretch that naturally releases upperback tension.

Bottom wake-up call

Those who spend much of their day seated are likely familiar with the feeling that experts call “dead butt syndrome.” It can range from temporary soreness that quickly dissipates when you stand up to stiffness that spreads elsewhere in the lower body. Essentially, your glutes grow complacent and forget to do their job of supporting your body when you get up and move around. This move, commonly known as the “monster walk,” is a simple glute exercise that can be done anywhere you have enough room to step side to side.

No matter how you do it, try to care for yourself a little better as you continue to battle the stress of being a small business owner. We know it’s challenging, but remember that keeping yourself healthy and present is just as important to the future of your establishment as completing inventory, payroll, or any of the other myriad responsibilities that sit on your shoulders. Be good to yourself so you can be good for your own business.

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