As Mahatma Gandhi once said: It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
But when you’re in charge of a franchise business, staying on top of all your work and home life responsibilities can be a tall order. It’s a balancing act that can lead to some serious fatigue and well-being woes.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six workers is experiencing depression, stress or anxiety.
Furthermore, a study by Opus Energy found 76 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprise owners are losing sleep over the state of their business, while 79 per cent are making personal sacrifices to keep steering their ship in the right direction. This includes missing out on personal time, reducing holidays and going without pay.
So what can you do to ensure you’re feeling on top form, mentally, physically, socially and emotionally, ready to take on all that work and life, in general, has to throw at you?
Here are my eight tips on how to look after your well-being while taking care of business:
1. Keep the H2O flowing
When work is in full swing, we can easily go hours without having a drink, which can have a negative impact on our concentration levels, clarity of mind and general brain efficiency - all of which are essential for successfully operating a business.
The reason? Astonishingly, the brain is 75 per cent water, but it can’t store any of the water it uses. Therefore, it requires a constant flow of this magic liquid to function properly, affecting its short and long-term memory and ability to maintain concentration.
A recent study conducted by the University of Westminster and the University of East London found that just 300ml of water can boost attention by almost 25 per cent. So to ensure you’re firing on all cylinders, top up on H2O as much as you can throughout the day while minimising your caffeine intake to help balance out your hydration levels.
2. Take time away from your desk
There will always be another email to send or phone call to make. But remaining in your chair all day is not good for your physical or mental health. Just like dehydration, it can drain your brainpower and adversely affect your well-being. In fact, a study by the University of Illinois concluded that prolonged attention to a single task hinders performance, highlighting the importance of brief mental breaks.
As hard as it can be to prise yourself away from your desk, make sure you take regular five to 10-minute timeouts to stretch your muscles, free up some headspace and perhaps engage in some light-hearted corridor or WhatsApp chat with colleagues to boost your social health.
Going for a lunchtime walk and adding in some exercise before or after work are more excellent ways to improve your physical and mental well-being.
3. Get on top of your nutrition
Another saying that’s been around for a long time is: Never make a decision on an empty stomach. And the evidence backs this up.
Research shows that hunger significantly alters people’s decision making, leading to impatience and the increased likelihood of settling for smaller rewards that come sooner rather than larger rewards that are longer in the making.
With that in mind, eating better and in a timely manner can significantly benefit your physical and mental health, keeping you charged up throughout the day.
This is supported by the NHS, which says: Eating at regular times during the day helps burn calories at a faster rate. It also reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar.
As with the formation of any healthy habit, routine is key, so try to avoid skipping meals and be aware of not only what you eat, but when you eat it.
4. Be mindful A mindfulness or meditation
A mindfulness or meditation app, like Headspace or Calm, can provide you with an effective tool for de-stressing after a long, hard day at the office. The trouble is, mindfulness and meditation are often misunderstood, which is why some people claim they don’t work.
Instead of eradicating feelings of stress and challenging emotions, the purpose of these practices is to help you find positive ways to process and react to them, recognising that they are part of your journey.
Bear this in mind when using these types of apps, as sticking with them can have a significant impact on your ability to think clearly and handle life’s challenges, enhancing your mental health in and out of work.
5. Don’t neglect your social life
When running a business, it’s easy to become all work and no play. But it’s important to balance your work-life with positive home-life experiences to support your all-around well-being.
Spending some time with friends and family can be a great way to blow off steam, wind down and share your thoughts and feelings - including the things you feel excited or worried about - with those closest to you.
What’s more, a study shows that people with strong social relationships have a 50 per cent better chance of living longer, so it really does pay to be sociable.
6. What’s in your control?
As a business owner, the thought of not being in control is probably one of the things that scare you the most. But in reality, it’s pretty much impossible to control everything all at once.
What you can control is the way you engage with and manage the internal and external aspects of your business. Learning to be flexible when things don’t quite go to plan will help combat your stress levels and enhance your mental well-being in the long term.
7. Use tech to your advantage
Using a digital well-being platform/app, like hero Navigator, can help you achieve all the above points.
Navigator allows individuals and businesses to manage and progress goals (including sleep, steps, exercise, nutrition, breathing, activity, habits and recovery) and track these in a handy calendar.
It also works with all the leading wearable technologies, including Apple Health, Google Fit, Fitbit and Garmin.
You can even download easy to prepare, healthy recipes (including nutritional data and instructional videos) and barcode scan all your food to track your nutrition.
Better still, a built-in Wellness Library provides articles on all aspects of health, including mental, physical and social well-being, creating a one-stop-shop for all your needs.
By using a platform capable of supporting your holistic well-being, you’ll be much more aware of the actions you need to take each day to become the healthiest version of yourself.
8. It all starts with you
One final point to make is that company culture starts and ends with you.
By demonstrating to your employees that you value your personal well-being, as well as theirs, will rub off on them, helping you build a stronger, healthier, happier and more productive workforce, whether you own one franchise unit or many.
It’s never too late to start improving your well-being. So what’s going to be your first move?
Joe Gaunt is the founder of hero, the award-winning health tech and leading wellbeing provider.