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8 ways to stay sane when you can’t take a break from your business

Let’s face it: owning a business often means you struggle to find time to step away from running your company so you can focus on yourself, on the things that refuel you and clear your mind.

But the very pressures and challenges that make you feel it’s risky to take some time for yourself are also the reasons why you must find a way to do just that. Instead of doubling down—working extra hours, sacrificing personal time and ignoring self-care—consider the price you’ll pay when you don’t find the downtime to rest, refresh and regroup.

Your business is a reflection of you—it’s only as healthy as you are. If you don’t attend to your physical or mental health, it’s inevitably going to show up in how you make decisions, lead your team and manage the day-to-day. You’ll burn out, if you haven’t already—and it will be that much harder to get the results you want. For the sake of your business, you need to take care of yourself.  

Yes, taking a real vacation is the best way to do this. A change of scenery and a different pace of life gives you the space to re-energize and reflect on what’s working in your business and life, what isn’t, and what you should do about it. But a full-on vacation isn’t the only way. 

Here are eight ways you can get some of the clarity a vacation offers without a long break from running your business.

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Develop a routine

Systems are good for your business, and they’re good for you too. A good personal system can build some pre-planned routines into your day.   It can be a small act, like getting up half an hour earlier so you can have breakfast and organize your thoughts before you start your work day.

Or how about putting a 30-minute block on your calendar so you can take a walk or get a bite to eat without multitasking? A personal system that gives you some simple routines will help you claim time in your day to do things that give you a break and support your mental clarity.


Even if exercise isn’t something you normally do, it’s one of the best ways to reset mind and body. And often, the moment when you think you can’t possibly fit in exercise is the moment when you most need it. If you have an exercise routine, protect it. If not, see above about blocking 30 minutes to take a walk or do some simple, restorative stretching. 

Unplug from media

Social media and the news keep us informed and connected, but too much of either can also feed anxiety and make us reactive. This is a bad recipe for business owners who are already hyper-alert to changes in the marketplace. Avoiding the trap of doom-scrolling will help you fend off impulsive reactions and keep a response posture aligned with your strategic view and long-term thinking. 

Keep your mind—and your business—in the present

Do you ever feel stuck in your head? If you’re caught up in cycling through future possibilities that may or may not ever occur, or find yourself over-analyzing and regretting the past, then you’re not present; and the present is where your focus and your attention are needed to keep your business moving.

There’s a balance to be found here: learn the lessons of the past, keep an eye on where you want your business to go, but hold most of your focus on the present and on the decisions you can make today to apply what you’ve learned and move one step closer to your destination.

For the sake of your business, you need to take care of yourself

Start a project

Some people think that exclusive attention to their business is a necessary component of success. They don’t pay attention to their personal relationships, cultivate hobbies, or try new things because everything they have is going into the business.

If you choose that route, you’ll likely miss out on the kinds of insight and creativity that show up in the moments you’re not consciously thinking about your business. When you focus on something new and different, your subconscious gets a chance to work in the background while your conscious mind isn’t chewing over what’s going on in your business. Try it, and let it surprise you. 

Get creative

Many people who start businesses are fundamentally creative. They're drawn to innovate, build, improve, design and produce. This type of work unlocks the right side of your brain, the same area responsible for developing solutions. But when you're tired and stressed, that side of your brain is harder to access. So whether or not you're already creative in your work, now is the time to develop a new creative skill–either personal or professional. It will give your brain space to wander and potentially get unstuck.

Focus on results, not activities

Pay attention to where your time is going every day. Notice whether you finish the day with a kind of exhausted pride at how much you got done. Do you wear being busy as a badge of honor? That’s a sure sign that you’re over-focused on activities and you might not be paying enough attention to results.  

When you focus first on the results you want, you’ll have a litmus test to evaluate whether the things that are keeping you busy are also the things that are getting results. For example, if you pride yourself on doing 10 sales calls a day, but it leaves you no time to start systematizing the way you do sales so someone else could do it,  you should feel a disconnect. The longer you act as the main salesperson in your business, the longer your business will depend on you. Is that the result you’re looking for? 

Take a mini-vacation

Take two days off just to disconnect. Don’t fill the time with outside responsibilities. Use it instead to focus on taking care of yourself.  And if you think you can’t manage a mini-vacation, ask yourself “Why not?” Do you worry you can’t trust your team to keep it together in your absence? Are you the only one who knows how to do what needs to be done? Then ask yourself if these are facts or just beliefs. Whatever comes up for you usually points to a system that you need to develop in your business. And there’s no better time to do that than the present.

Giving yourself space to rest, think and level-set may not seem easy, but it is worth doing. . As the leader of your business, self-care is critical work so that you’re consistently making your business a reflection of you at your best. If you’re finding it impossible to do on your own,  we recommend talking it over with an EMyth business coach. We’ve been helping small business owners for decades. 

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EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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