Entrepreneurs take pride in their heavy workloads and all-nighters. But new research suggests that this lifestyle negatively impacts their health, work quality, and businesses. “If you’re always working and always ‘on,’ that can impair recovery and eventually harm a host of well-being outcomes,” says coauthor Jeff Gish, assistant professor of management at the University of Central Florida.
The researchers widely reviewed the literature on well-being and stress in entrepreneurship, finding that entrepreneurs face the unique stresses of uncertainty mixed with resource and staff constraints, and that “the number and intensity of stressors can pose a real threat to well-being and health.”
The word that appears 190 times in the study is recovery, which is something of a panacea to entrepreneurs, because it reduces dozens of mood, health, and productivity risks by simply lessening the constant wear-and-tear on entrepreneurs’ minds and bodies. Entrepreneurs are not known for napping. “Entrepreneurs have a complex relationship with recovery,” the researchers write, but need to embrace it as “an investment in their future well-being, health, and productivity.”
Rather than repeat this predictable finding for 40 pages, these researchers helpfully lay out a road map that real-life entrepreneurs can take to incorporating recovery in their daily lives, called the 3Rs:
- Respite. These are breaks and pauses on work, from a walk to a weeklong vacation. The key characteristic is that work stops, and you do something else, like socialize or nature walk or play music. A 5-to-10-minute microbreak can boost productivity and lower stress. Longer breaks, including full nights of sleep, are critical.
- Reappraisal. This means reframing how you perceive the job and work. Pro tip: Don’t think of your company as a cauldron of stress, yourself as failing, and 80-hour weeks as necessary. Journaling, such as gratitude diarying, or therapy can help shift your perspective.
- Regimen. This is the ensuing routine of breaks, sleep, exercise.
Yes, the 3Rs overlap. Just go with it.
We rarely suggest reading full academic texts because, well, that’s not living. But this one, called “Let’s Focus on Solutions to Entrepreneurial Ill-Being!,” is a worthwhile read for entrepreneurs and busy workers alike, as both an utterly practical lifestyle guide and an efficient crash course in mounds of research on how to thrive while slaying it at work.