My New Year’s Resolution: Take More.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I figured, “Why not?” Focusing on making ourselves better and doing Write it on your heart quote showing woman looking out to seaour work more effectively doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. I certainly have room for improvement, so I think laying out some strategies to become the person and solopreneur I strive to be makes sense.

 

In thinking through what I’d like to achieve in 2017, I discovered a theme.

 

I realize I need to “take” more.

Take stock.

Why is it we tend to dwell on what’s not right or what’s lacking in our personal and professional lives? I intend to start and end each day on a note of gratitude, taking stock of all I have to be thankful for.

Take 5 more often.

I’ve learned that overextending myself and cramming too much into too little time doesn’t benefit anyone. Not me. Not my family. Not my clients. Not my friends. When I need breaks, I’m going to take them. None of us can sustain a schedule that doesn’t leave room for rest and recovery.

Take a deep breath.

It seems as though we’re always jumping. Jumping to conclusions, jumping to judgment, and jumping at chances. But leaping before looking can lead to poor decisions and destroyed relationships. I vow to allow myself the time to take a breath and listen and think before offering opinions and making choices. I don’t know anyone who has ever regretted or suffered as a result of carefully thinking before speaking or acting on something, do you?

Take care.

Rushing never yields quality results. By consciously and methodically taking care, I can better avoid making those stupid little mistakes that gnaw at the core of my being for hours on end. Doing it right the first time saves time and sustains self-confidence.

Take a chill pill.

I’m a worrier. Not so much about myself but about others who I care about and who are going through difficult times. That’s not productive. Worry helps no one. What does help is keeping a cool head, giving a shoulder to lean on, providing guidance, and offering a helping hand.

Take it with a grain of salt.

Constructive criticism from trusted advisors and other people who care about you can serve as valuable feedback to move you down a more successful path. But naysayers offering unsolicited advice or making disparaging remarks about you or how you do something typically don’t have your best interests at heart. I intend to take their words with a grain of salt and consider their motivation. If someone offers harsh words that aren’t in the spirit of helping you improve, then it’s likely they’re driven by jealousy, rivalry, or by an inherently mean disposition.

The Overarching Plan For The New Year

So, my plan to take control of 2017 is to take more. What have you placed on your list of resolutions? Could you benefit from taking more, too, in the New Year?

 

What You—And Only You—Can Take Responsibility For

I just wrote a guest post about accountability for the TDS Business blog that broached the subject from the standpoint of how to be accountable for getting Finger pointing at youthings done in your business. As a self-employed small business owner, you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, formal performance reviews, or a structured monetary award incentive to motivate you. It’s all you.

 

But besides the down and dirty business stuff, there’s another thing you need to hold yourself accountable for. YOU are the only person with ultimate responsibility for it.

 

Taking care of yourself. Physically. Mentally.

 

And your success in doing so hinges a great deal on managing stress.

 

Stress Sucks.

According to statistics provided by the American Psychological Association and American Institute of Stress (which I found on the American Institute of Stress website), 77 percent of people in the U.S. regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. And 73 percent experience psychological symptoms because of stress.

 

That’s nearly all of us. Rather astounding and unnerving, don’t you think? But it’s a little reassuring, too. If you’ve felt the effects of stress like I have, it’s sort of nice to know we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones who have dealt with the ramifications of letting stuff get to us:

 

  • Tightened neck muscles
  • Nervousness and inability to relax
  • Never a good night’s sleep
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness
  • Upset stomach and wacked out digestion
  • No energy

 

The list goes on.

 

Unfortunately, there’s not always a way to eliminate the work and home pressures that add stress to our lives. But the one thing we can do is take responsibility for prepping our bodies and minds to deal with stress more effectively.

 

The Stress-Busting Trio

I’m not a doctor, psychologist, nutritionist, or any other variety of health and wellness expert, so I’m not going to tell you what you should do. But I know what it’s like to have competing priorities and to feel the overwhelming pressure of trying to get everything done (and done “right”). So I thought I’d share some thoughts on what helps me keep stress levels under control in hopes it will help you explore ways to manage stress better.

 

I’ve found my success at dealing with stress depends largely on how attentive I am to three things.

 

  • Exercising
    I’ve been working out for over thirty years and can’t imagine how much of a frazzled mess I’d be if I didn’t get that boost of endorphins that comes from some physical exertion and sweat. Exercise helps reduce anxiety and improve mood and sleep. And then there’s the side benefit of getting fit and feeling better about yourself.
    Now that I work from home, I find it more manageable and mentally beneficial to break my workouts into smaller chunks and do them throughout the day rather than doing a single longer workout.

    According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, I seem to be on the right track with that approach, “Studies have found that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars have a greater chance of dying early than people who spend less time on their duffs. Researchers speculate that sitting for hours on end may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.”

    As solopreneurs and small business owners, we typically do a lot of work at our desks or sitting in a sedentary state somewhere. In addition to refreshing our minds, fitting in breaks to get our bodies moving could help us keep some potential health issues at bay.

    Not sure you have the discipline to do it? Consider getting one of those fitness bands like the Vivofit (that’s the one I have), that tracks your steps throughout the day and raises the equivalent of a red flag whenever you’ve been planted on your behind for an extended period of time.

 

  • Eating Smart
    “You are what you eat.” I’ve found that to be true. Certain foods can trigger and aggravate stress, particularly processed foods like soft drinks, fast food, microwave and out-of-the-box meals that are pretty much void of nutrients and full of sugar, sodium, and additives.

    I notice a big difference in my ability to concentrate and to deal with challenges when I stray from eating whole foods and indulge in quick convenience foods instead. There’s plenty of evidence to support that food plays an important role in regulating cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. That gives us very good reason to eat wisely.

 

  • Sleeping Enough
    It’s a vicious, frustrating cycle; stress can interfere with your sleep and not getting enough sleep can make you feel more stressed. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations, adults from 26 – 64 years old should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day.

    Hands down, sleep (or lack of it) is the one thing above all else that can make or break my day.

 

It’s a Package Deal

All of the above don’t work as well alone as they do together—at least not in my experience. Eating better makes me feel more energetic when exercising, and exercise facilitates better sleep at night, and better sleep at night makes me more inclined to exercise.

 

My outlook, energy level, and productivity are all more optimal when I make the trio of exercise, eating well, and sleep a priority. And only I can hold myself responsible for doing those things.

 

How accountable have you been for managing stress and taking better care of yourself? It’s not always easy when you’re schedule is jam-packed and you’re pulled in multiple directions. But remember, if you don’t do it. No one else will do it for you.

 

As I finished this post, by friend, client, mastermind group colleague, and all-around savvy small business owner Rachel Strella posted an article reminding us how important it is to take time for ourselves. Check it out!

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net