Most people who run their own business have days where their confidence plummets; where the thought of calling that difficult or important client feels overwhelming and gets put off until later. Then when you finally build up the nerve to do it, you wonder what the heck you were stressing about.
If you let the nerves and self-doubt take over though it’s not just your business that will suffer. The effects can erode your physical and mental well-being as well. It can become a vicious cycle that leads to depression and withdrawal from the business and social world.
It helps to know that you are not alone. Running your own show means that moving forward is down to you; there is nowhere to hide. Momentarily that can be a terrifying and paralysing thought for almost every startup at some stage.
If depression has deeper roots, such as trauma or mental health issues, then you should get professional help. Talk to your GP as a first step.
But more often, lack of confidence and self-doubt is entirely rational for someone putting themselves out there and taking a risk. If that’s you, then start by making sure that all of your plans and risks are fully informed. Contrary to popular opinion; successful entrepreneurs are not risk-takers, they are calculated risk-takers.
Balance that considered and rational approach to business with lifestyle adjustments that optimise your health and well-being. That way you will be in better shape to deal with the mental and physical challenges ahead and to reverse the vicious cycle into one that keeps doing you good.
Here are some healthy and sustainable ways to help boost your self-confidence and regain control of your life.
1. Stay Active
Leading an active life is an easy way to help boost your confidence. Not only will working out make you look better and get into shape, it will also make you feel better. That’s right, working out increases the blood flow in your body and after a workout, your body releases endorphins, which are the “feel-good” chemicals in your body. It’s true, ask anyone that has been working out for some time and they will tell you how good they feel after a workout. Science proves that as well as making you feel better, regular exercise can literally make your body younger. A 40-year-old can turn back to 30 with the right routine.
One of the best ways to start working out is by taking the stairs instead of the lift, whenever you have the choice. These may not seem like much, but if you have never been the active type this is a good way to start. Your next step may be to purchase a gym membership or to start jogging in your neighbourhood. If going to the gym is not your style, there are also many ways to workout at home. You can use do a lot of weight and resistance training using your own body and there are legions of great yoga and workout videos online.
2. Eat Healthy
Another way to help boost your confidence is to eat healthily. The age-old saying “ you are what you eat” really rings true. Many people that suffer from self-confidence issues use food or alcohol for comfort. This is because, like working out, consuming food also releases the feel-good chemicals from your body called endorphins. Unfortunately in this case the junk food we can get addicted to does not do us any good, instead slowing us down and fogging our minds. Our body does not know when enough is enough when it comes to eating foods filled with sugars and carbohydrates.
Conversely, a well-balanced diet, based on whole foods, will sharpen your mind and give you much more energy.
3. Drink More Water
Almost everyone needs to drink more water. It’s one of the easiest things to do to improve your overall health and well-being, And effective hydration will also make you look healthier, with clearer skin and eyes.
Make sure you have 4-6 glasses of water or non-sugary liquids as a minimum each day. An easy way to check if you are dehydrated is the colour of your urine; if it’s dark then you need to drink more. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime if you want to get a good night’s sleep, which of course you need.
4. Get Enough Rest
Sleep is the fundamental building block of well-being. Stress can literally keep you awake at night. If your sleep gets out of kilter, you can soon find yourself feeling too tired and grumpy to bother with exercise and healthy eating – and so the vicious cycle spins.
Smartphones are one of the biggest current enemies of a good night’s sleep. Banish yours from the bedroom. Set an alarm and get up at the same time every morning and that will start to regulate a sensible bedtime. You should be aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
5. Say Yes
Another way to start feeling confident is by getting out into the world more by saying ‘yes’ to things. This can be as simple as saying yes to your friends to go out to the movies on a Saturday night or by saying yes to meeting for coffee with a colleague or acquaintance. Confidence is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets so that when bigger challenges come along, you are ripped and ready!
6. Stay social
Isolation can be a particular issue for home-based startups. If you work from home online you could go for days without seeing another person. This is rarely good for confidence. Make sure that you get out every day. Go and work in a cafe, go along to a meetup event or get a desk in a co-working space.
And if you must be at home on your own during the day, make sure that you balance that with regular social or sporting activities. Real-life social connections are as important for health as exercise and good nutrition.
It can be hard to get out of a slump when you are in one. It takes effort and organisation. Fortunately, anyone who runs their own business or plans to, will have or will be developing the very planning skills necessary. See yourself as a project and put in place a plan to underpin your own confidence, health, and well-being, using the principles outlined above. Don’t forget, you are the most valuable resource for your business, so to take care of business you need to take care of yourself first.