Is Entrepreneurship Hazardous to Your Health? How to Stay Healthy While Running a Business

stressed entrepreneur

By Dr. David Minkoff

In my medical practice, I treat a lot of patients who are in business for themselves. I can confirm, therefore, that entrepreneurs are busy people. In fact, at least one survey found they tend to work 63% longer than regular employees.

With all that time put into the job, there’s not a lot left over for taking care of themselves—especially if they have a family or other important priorities and obligations.

Entrepreneurship raises risk for health problems

This is not good, considering that simply being an entrepreneur also raises the risk of some serious health problems. Psychological problems are at the top of the list. In fact, one study found that compared to the general population, entrepreneurs were twice as likely to experience depression, nearly six times as likely to have ADHD, and three times as likely to suffer from addiction.

These are not small numbers, but it makes sense when you consider the massive amount of stress involved in running a business. Add to that the elevated potential for isolation and the blurring of lines between an entrepreneur’s personal, social, and business life, and you’ve got a recipe for mental health challenges.

It turns out other health problems are rampant among entrepreneurs, as well. Of these, heart disease may be the scariest. Remember how the average entrepreneur tends to work over 60% more than 9 to 5 employees? According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the more time entrepreneurs spend on the job, the greater the chance of being diagnosed with heart disease.

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This association was determined by tracking 1,926 members of the workforce over a 25-year span, during which 40% of participants were diagnosed with heart disease. Those who worked the longest hours had the highest relative risk.

It seems like the easy solution would be for entrepreneurs to cut back on their hours. But it’s not easy to convince an entrepreneur to do that—not by a long shot. The same goes for anyone, business owner or not, who has extensive time commitments to projects or relationships to which they’ve attached personal or professional meaning. That being the case, how can those people manage their health risks and prioritize well-being without sacrificing productivity?

Most important self-care tactic for entrepreneurs

When you’re busy, you may have to eat on the go. You may have to settle for light walking instead of strenuous exercise, if that’s all your schedule allows. You may not have time to research and experiment with supplements, get a therapeutic massage, or blend your own organic vegetable juice in the morning.

You can do one thing, though, that’s more powerful than all the above, and you can do it no matter how busy you are: plan your schedule around your circadian rhythm.

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “circadian rhythm”; we know it has to do with our pattern of sleeping, and might even associate it with the idea of a “biological clock.” But thinking our circadian rhythm is just a sleep timer seriously underestimates its importance.

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