Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First

You’ve heard of the “freshman 15” referring to the 15 pounds college freshmen tend to gain during their first year away from home?  Well, it seems there’s a related phenomenon called the “Startup 15”.  This is where entrepreneurs tend to gain weight as they begin their businesses because, with their unrelenting focus on their businesses and the stress that goes with it, their exercise and eating habits become less consistent and generally less healthy.  In short, they don’t take time for themselves.

If you’re an entrepreneur or new to a leadership position, in all likelihood, your focus on work leads you to neglect aspect the Startup 15 and other stress-related health issues:

1.            Set an alarm on your phone for meals and snacks.

How many times have you “forgotten” to eat?  It happens, but it’s not good for your blood sugar.  Setting an alarm 5 times a day will help you eat small amounts more frequently throughout the day, keeping your blood sugar more even.

 2.            Aim for 50% fruits and vegetables at each meal or snack. 

I hear kale or seaweed chips are tasty.  It might be worth a try to get more greens into your diet.

 3.            Breathe!

Intentionally breathing deeply has many benefits, including releasing tension, detoxifying the body, and elevating your mood.  To breathe in a beneficial way:

  • Inhale through your nose, bringing your breath into your belly and up to the chest, taking 5 counts on the inhale;
    Hold your breath for 5 counts;
    Then, exhale for 5 counts, pushing all the air out.
    Do this 5-5-5 breathing 5 times in a row, and do this 5 times throughout the day.

It’s amazing how it can calm you down or refocus you, especially if you do it when you find yourself feeling tense.  This type of breathing also helps balance your heartbeat.

 4.            Touch your lips with one or two fingers to calm down.

Sounds silly but it works. Nerve fibers connected to your parasympathetic nervous system are located in your lips.  When you touch your lips, you calm yourself and de-stress.

 5.            Schedule an exercise appointment with yourself.

You probably schedule time to meet with others, so schedule time with yourself.  Whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood or time at the gym, schedule it.  You’ll be more likely to follow through with it when you commit it to your calendar.


WANT TO USE THIS IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with executives and senior leaders to create team environments that optimize ownership, accountability, learning, and results. Learn more at:

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