Whether you are a self-employed lone worker, are part of a small team or work in a huge office space with hundreds of other employees, there’s one thing for certain – cold and flu season is on its way!

When you do run your own small business, it’s often harder to take time out to rest and recuperate than it might be for some employees (especially those with statutory sick pay and colleagues who can shoulder some of the workload!) due to the fact that time away from work generally means time away from earning money.  I’ve met a number of small business owners who are unable or unwilling to even consider ‘down time’ to recover from illness and injury, choosing instead to work from their beds (even hospital beds) rather than let their customers down.  Unfortunately, this desire to get back to work before we are fully fit and able often results in a.) a longer recovery time or b.) a temporary reduction in the quality of work due to the fact that you are in so much pain/on medication/need to sleep every 3.5 minutes.  As a result, here are my top tips to stay as healthy as possible this Autumn/Winter, and to recover from illness as quickly as possible – trust me, I’m not a Doctor but I am a seasoned self-employed professional!

Take regular breaks – I know it’s easy to forget lunch breaks and to regularly work late into the evening when you’ve got a to-do list as long as the Thames. But work will still be there when you get back, it’s not going anywhere! If you feel you can’t possibly take a break to relax and go for a short walk in the fresh air, it might be worth reviewing your working schedule, adjusting your deadlines (if possible) and booking in regular sessions in your diary to take time away from your desk and get your blood pumping and muscles working! Even a quick brisk walk round the block is good for the body and mind.

Eat regularly – and eat well! I’ve missed many a lunch break and often go for hours without a drink, but I’m making a conscious effort this Autumn/Winter to stay hydrated and to eat a decent lunch and healthy snacks in order to give my body some of the precious nutrients it needs to try and keep me as healthy as possible! I’m not declaring the office a caffeine or sugar-free zone though – everyone has days when a coffee and cake is the ultimate medicine for a challenging day.

Cherish your ‘downtime’ – grab a book, enjoy a bath, watch some trash television or dedicate time to a hobby (or two!).  Stress can manifest itself in a number of different ways in our health and wellbeing, so taking proper breaks from work (and turning off those email and app notifications!) can help you manage your stress levels more effectively.  There is more to life than simply work.

Find someone who can support you – even the strongest, healthiest individuals can find themselves struck down by flu (one of my associates had the flu vaccine last year and was still struck down by a different strain – these things happen sometimes!) or another illness.  As a result, try to set up systems and processes that can be put into place if you are ill – whether that’s a simple out of office that you can put on if you just need a couple of days in bed to recover, or a trusted associate that you can outsource your work to if you need cover for a longer period of time, or just want to spread the load a little when you’re really snowed under.

Listen to your body – if you are feeling exhausted, unwell, or stressed, put yourself on your to-do list.  Take time out and seek professional medical help if required; your clients understand that you are human and not some kind of super cyborg who can work non-stop for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year… Carrying on when your body or mind needs a break ALWAYS results in a longer recovery time than simply stopping for a day or two and giving yourself some TLC. Just remember, when it comes to business priorities, you are your number one asset! Give yourself the same care and attention you give your staff, your associates, and even your hardware! You’ll soon be fighting fit and ready to work effectively and productively again.

What will you be doing this Winter to try and stay as healthy and happy as possible? Do you have any top tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them on my Social Media channels – feel free to get in touch!

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