Wellbeing tips for the solopreneur

person using laptop on white wooden table

Running a business is stressful and owning a business with a single employee, can be isolating. The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has brought additional difficulties, with many business owners having to shut up (quite literally) and in some cases, close down for good with bankruptcy looming.

The lockdown protocol and self-isolation can be pretty devastating on an individual’s mental health too. According to the “polyvagal theory”- social interaction is a crucial part of stress management and overall physical and mental wellbeing. If you work alone anyway, chances are you relied on weekend & evening activities, hobbies and events to provide that much-needed interaction.

With this in mind, here are some tips for managing stress and enhancing wellbeing.

Have a Morning Routine

Sticking to a routine can help you stay organised and help you to get up and get started in the mornings.

Genetics might influence whether you are a night owl or a morning bird. If you perform better in the evenings, can focus better and get more work done, then you could look to work your routine around this – with a morning routine that starts a couple of hours later. A regular bedtime routine is crucial for quality sleep.

If possible start your morning routine the night before. Set out your clothes and get your lunch ready.

Breakfasts could include eggs or blueberries as both have been shown to improve cognitive functioning in the long term. Almonds are also a good snack choice in terms of cognitive performance.

Studies (you can find one here) also suggest that the morning might be the best time to tackle creative tasks. If you are working from home, you could consider waking, then tackling a creative task, then having a shower, breakfast etc.

Consider Outsourcing Some Tasks

Outsourcing can be a relatively easy way to reduce your workload and general stress levels. For example, if you were to use a call answering service, you will be essentially outsourcing receptionist duties to another company. Moneypenny for example, provides industry-specific receptionists e.g. a real estate receptionist – that knows your business to the same detail that a full-time hire would. You can reduce interruptions, capture all sales leads, and relax uninterrupted at evenings and weekends with a 24/7 service.

You can also look to outsource some repetitive tasks to a virtual assistant. Also known as a remote executive assistant, a virtual personal assistant is common at small companies or startups that cannot employ full-time employees or have no centralized office. These can typically be hired for around $5-$10 per hour in some countries such as the Philippines.  

Mindfulness Breaks

Doing some kind of mindfulness can dramatically improve our mood and wellbeing.

A great way to fit in 30 seconds of mindful, deep breathing is to use a Pomodoro timer. This splits the day up into 25 minutes sprints. Focus on your work during the sprint – trying to bring your mind back to the work each time your mind starts to wander.

In addition, after the 25-minute sprint is over, take 5 deep breaths – focusing on the breath going in and out of your nose and/or mouth.

You can also add 5 seconds of mindful breathing, after each visit you take to the bathroom. Finally, if you have the time, consider adding 10 minutes of meditation at the end of your working day to help you relax and get back into ‘home & family mode’. If you struggle to focus, consider listening to a binaural beats meditation track on Youtube – these can help immensely.

Have Plants Around

Adopt a plant! Adding a few plants to your office can improve your mood. A study from the University of Queensland concluded that offices with plants made people both happier and 15% more productive over 2 months.

The research team monitored ‘lean’ vs ‘green’ office environments, studying two large offices in the UK and the Netherlands.

Air quality can also be improved with plants such as aloe vera. Cacti are also easy to maintain and come in many curious varieties and shapes!

Get Away in the Car

If you need to get out – then – assuming it’s not against the lockdown-laws in your area – consider kitting out your car with a desk.

Car desks range in price from $10 for a cheap and cheerful plastic one that attaches to the steering wheel, up to serious options costing over $200 including the Gripmaster with space to store files.

You may also wish to invest in a sun-shield for the windscreen and if you get serious – some tinting for the windows.

Use Tabata Interval Workouts that Last 4 Minutes

Tabata intervals last for 4 minutes. The interval is split into 8 x 20 second periods of high-intensity exercise and 8 x 10 second periods of rest. Research suggests that a single, 4 minute Tabata interval, done at high intensity, can be enough to generate numerous mental & physical health-related benefits.

The original research into Tabata’s effectiveness was done on a bike. Subjects in the high-intensity group, pedalled as hard as they could for 20 seconds, then rested for 10 seconds and repeated this process until they had done 8 intervals of exercise. Subjects in the second group pedalled at moderate intensity for 60 minutes. Both groups showed improvement in aerobic capacity but only the Tabata group displayed increased anaerobic or power-related performance – for example, a sprint.

With this in mind, to enjoy a quick and effective workout, simply get a Tabata app or find a timer on Youtube, then do 4 minutes of bodyweight squats, sprints on a bike – or whatever exercise you like really! The main thing is to work hard. Be cautious with ‘explosive’ exercises like burpees and plyometrics, as you are more likely to get injured.