When you’re busy and overwhelmed, it’s easy to berate yourself when things go awry. However, there’s no rule that says you must carry the weight of the world on your shoulders—in fact, in these moments, it’s important to take a step back, be kind to and take care of yourself.
To find out what approaches work best, we asked a group of Young Entrepreneur Council members—busy people by definition—for their best self-care tips. Here’s what they recommended:
1. Establish a morning self-care routine.
Rather than allowing myself to get overwhelmed and try to catch up on self-care in one day, I’ve started a regimen of meditation, exercise and reflection every morning. By making and taking time for myself each and every morning, I get ahead of the stress and keep myself grounded and ready to get to work each day.
2. Reward yourself.
Afford yourself a personal reward from time to time, especially after you’ve done a great job on a tough project or gotten your business through a rough patch. It’s not going to kill your budget, and a fresher, happier you will reap significant rewards.
3. Speak with a therapist.
In the fast-paced and often stressful nature of my work, I’ve learned to forgive myself for days where I don’t have the drive to do anything. Productivity comes and goes, and it’s all right. So for bad days, I take some time off to take care of myself. Therapy is something I always recommend to everyone because it helped me a lot when I was stuck in a rut.
4. Schedule days off.
Adding a day off to my calendar—where I don’t let myself schedule any work—has made a major difference for me. Hard as it is to disconnect and take time away from my work, regularly giving myself space to relax is worth it. Sure, I feel better overall, but I can also tell the difference between my work’s quality after working five days in a row versus right after a day off.
5. Automate what you can.
There are so many new tools popping up every day to help make our lives easier in business and home. There are now robots for cleaning your floor as well as AI that helps you book more meetings by acting as your assistant. Look for ways you can automate more tasks to make more time for the things that matter, like taking care of yourself.
6. Get plenty of sleep.
I like to sleep at least eight hours every night. I don’t set an alarm unless I absolutely have to. When I do have to set an alarm, I use a sleep app called Sleep Cycle. It wakes me up at an optimal time, rather than when I am in a deep sleep. On a regular basis, I take time to exercise, try to get sunlight daily, eat healthily and also get my body to 101 degrees a few times a week.
7. Reflect on the three best things that happened today.
I love my morning routine, but it’s my evening routine where I can reflect. In the evenings, typically right before I sleep, I write down the three best things that happened that day. This puts me in a state of appreciation and gratitude. Then I ask myself how I could have improved the day. I use these 15 minutes to map out my goals for the next day. My sleep quality has never been higher.
8. Use positive language and self-talk.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is how to speak to myself and others in the positive. The key words to pay attention to are “I am.” Pay close attention to what follows. Is it “stupid” or “an idiot”? Catch yourself and change it to “I am going to learn how to do this” or “I am going to ask for help on this.” Avoid any negative language. You may feel stupid, but you are not stupid.
9. Make time for family and friends.
If you’re overloaded with work, many times we’ll just head home and crash after the day is done. But it’s important to make time for family and friends. Go out to dinner and a movie or invite some guests over for game night. You’ll get that unconditional support from family and friends that you need for a good boost in your mood.
—Blair Williams, MemberPress
10. Do something creative.
When you’re starting to feel burned out at work, take the time to do something creative. Whether it’s painting, creative writing or designing something for fun, doing something creative will allow you to relax a little and it has the ability to inspire fresh ideas so that you can go back to work with a new attitude and energy.
11. Crush simple tasks first.
One of the biggest problems for busy, high-stress individuals is simply getting started. The task list that many of us carry is so long and complicated that maintaining it, let alone executing it, becomes a challenge. Make sure to complete a few simple tasks at the beginning of each day to jumpstart productivity and confidence. It can be as simple as making your bed.
12. Pace yourself and set realistic goals.
Remember, you can’t always do everything at once. Pace yourself and set realistic goals. Otherwise, you not only end up burning out, but you may find it difficult to achieve high-quality results. Taking a moment to see the big picture instead of the granular details can give you the refresh that you need to push through.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.