Management & Finance > Merchant Voice

How I maintain mental and physical health (to grow my business)

Managing a fast-growing ecommerce business is not for the faint of heart.

I’ve picked up a few practices over the last decade to keep my mental and physical health while scaling FringeSport.

Family and friends

The first and most important is my support structure. My wife, my kids, and my family are critical for my mental health. There’s the old saying, “If momma ain’t happy, no one is happy.” I found that to be true: If my wife and children aren’t happy, I’m not very happy at work. Then everyone suffers. Employees don’t get the leadership they need. I don’t perform as I should. It’s all bad.

So, while focusing on my family is the right thing to do, it also helps me become a better entrepreneur.

My friends also provide invaluable support. I need to commiserate with trusted buddies and blow off steam. They understand, to some extent, what I’m going through.

I’m a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a non-profit with a mission to “Engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow.” EO has been amazing in creating a support structure of friends and peers.

If my wife and children aren’t happy, I’m not very happy at work.

Negativity

My next weapon is avoiding negativity. I used to think that people who couldn’t accept criticism or bad news were weak. Now I realize that it’s an emotional energy drain.

To be sure, I try to know what people are saying about my company or me. But I don’t take it too seriously. Otherwise, I’ll fixate on the negativity, which impacts my headspace — my productivity, leadership, and even happiness.

I’m now almost pathological about avoiding negativity and negative people.

Physical fitness

My next weapon in maintaining mental health is near and dear to my heart: exercise!

I work out almost every day. Almost every morning. I ride my bike, use my rowing machine, or walk with my wife. It helps me start the day on the right foot (so to speak). I jump out of bed and look forward to the activity.

I also try to log everything that I eat. I’m using an app called Noom. I’ve also used MyFitnessPal.

I tend to eat more mindfully when I record it. Plus, with healthier food and less junk, I tend to have a better headspace and better physical condition.

I also protect my sleep. I do this is with an Oura ring, a sleep and activity tracker on my finger, like a wedding ring. I monitor my sleep with the ring, and I look at the app almost every day.

I try to improve my sleep and make sure that I’m getting enough of it. I used to feel guilty about this. But now I realize that an adequate amount of sleep makes me more productive and more effective at work. Sleep is critical for my mental well-being.

Routine

Another helpful practice is a consistent daily routine. I try to get in a groove and keep it going. When I look at unproductive periods in my life, something had knocked me out of routine.

My routine sets me free.

I’ve recently picked up journaling. Almost every morning I write in my journal. I have just three prompts:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What would make today great?
  • I am and I can.

Addressing my gratitude and a few tasks to complete keeps me focused.

Another helpful practice is a consistent, daily routine.

Guilt

My final tactic in maintaining mental health has taken me 40 years to learn: releasing guilt. I used to feel guilty about not doing this or that or failing in some manner.

Now I just let it go.

I even journal about my guilt. Sometimes I cup my hands, place the guilt on my hands, and blow on it until the universe takes it.

The long haul

Scaling an ecommerce business is tough work. It’s harder if you don’t take care of your mental and physical well-being.

I’m a human. I hope to perform for the long haul. These days, I think I’m doing all right.

Peter Keller

Peter Keller

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