If you’re too sick to get out of bed, it’s pretty hard to run a business. I found that out last year, when I became very ill in August. No matter how much caffeine I drank and how much sleep I got, I was still exhausted. I had to cut my work hours to a ridiculous degree to accommodate my need for sleep. And because entrepreneurs don’t get paid sick days, my income reflected the cuts to my hours.
That annoying bout of unproductiveness helped me realize how much my health impacts the quality of my work. Some days I’m not deathly ill—but I’m anxious, irritable, tired, or unfocused. In those cases, my work certainly doesn’t suffer to the degree that it does when I’m too sick to get out of bed, but it does suffer.
Awhile back, I heard the saying, “Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I don’t want what I’ve always gotten, but I also have a really hard time changing my routine—or even recognizing that it needs to change.
I thought it through and considered what I’ve always gotten when it comes to my health. I’ve always dealt with some type of anxiety; though it’s changed in presentation over the years, it’s always been there. I’ve been generally healthy but occasionally suffered from a bad cold or a cough, sometimes one that lingers for months like the one last fall. My overall energy level is decent, but it tends to wane in late afternoon, which is annoying.
Then I thought through what I’ve always done when it comes to my health. I had a bad habit of expecting myself to subsist on 4-6 hours of sleep per night. I drank a ridiculous amount of caffeine. I didn’t eat enough vegetables. My haphazard workouts were exclusively cardio and didn’t happen often enough. I never took real vacations (if I traveled, I always brought work with me).
So how are those things related? Perhaps not sleeping (and making up for it with caffeine) was exacerbating my anxiety. Maybe my energy level waned in the afternoon because I was eating sugary cereal for breakfast and not eating enough vegetables and protein. Maybe I felt unfocused and irritable because I never took any time off. Hmm?
I’m one of those “all or nothing” people. So naturally, I decided to tackle my bad health habits by doing literally all of the following:
- Eating eggs for breakfast every single morning
- Not drinking soda anymore
- Drinking one cup of coffee per day (usually)
- Lifting weights every day
- Ordering a box of essential oils
- Taking a vacation to the Caribbean
- Eating vegetables and fruit every day
- Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
- Reading books every day (instead of Netflix)
- Getting my first professional massage
Spoiler alert: Overall, I feel a lot better. I haven’t been sick in six months. My energy level doesn’t drop randomly at 4 p.m. anymore. I feel stronger. And when I’m awake, I’m actually awake, not staring at my computer wondering when I’ll have time for a nap.
When I was in high school, my gym teacher had a sign on the door to the locker room that said the following: “You only get one body to wear. Make it fit!” A lot of things about your health are out of your control. But what you can control can make a pretty big difference, at least in my experience.
What’s one change you have made in your health habits that has made a difference in your life?