by sonja thorsvik

The 3 Ways I Prioritize Rest As An Entrepreneur

Most entrepreneurs assume that constant hustle and a “go, go, go” mentality is just part of building a successful business. We have been trained to think that sleep is for the weak, hustle is essential, and that rest isn’t a priority when it comes to ‘making it’.

I wrote this article for the ‘year one in business Sonja’ – Some things I wish she would have known about, and actually made a priority. Why? Because no matter how hard you hustle, if you can’t spend time living the life you are creating or are too tired to actually enjoy it, what’s the point?

Just like sleep is important for body recovery, rest is absolutely essential for creating a sustainable life, a powerful business, and a mindset that keeps you going. Without rest comes burnout, exhaustion, and mistakes—none of which are bright spots in a successful business. 

There’s a quote I enjoy from Arianna Huffington, the powerhouse behind The Huffington Post and Thrive Global. She said, “I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion.”

Say it again for the people in the back, Arianna! 

Business owners can often be worse at rest, and a study from the Harvard Business Review shows just how bad we can be at it.

When interviewing 326 entrepreneurs, the study found that:

  • Almost every respondent reported some level of burnout, but 28% of the respondents reported at least moderate burnout, if not strong burnout.
  • The entrepreneurs who felt the most passionate about their jobs were the ones feeling constantly guilty about their so-called neglected responsibilities (like family and health).
  • Some respondents felt like their jobs—regardless of their passion levels—made them feel constantly anxious or stressed.

On a whole other level, there’s also a big link to mental health and rest, which is why naps are so important in kindergarten classes and why I’m such a huge proponent of taking a break. Another study that I found wildly important is one done by Dr. Michael Freeman on mental health in entrepreneurs showing that:

  • Entrepreneurs are two times more likely to suffer from depression and are 50% more likely to report having a mental health condition.
  • Entrepreneurs are also three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse, and almost 75% of self-surveyed respondents reported some sort of mental health concern.

Now, are you seeing why rest is so important? Without it, mental health can suffer, burnout can rise, and overall productivity goes down the drain (aka, the opposite of our business and life goals). Here are 3 of my favorite ways to prioritize rest when it comes to my business:

1. The Power Of A Power Nap

How many of us still let ourselves take naps? 

*raises hand

I do! There is no shame in my nap game and I consider it vital to my success as an entrepreneur. Let’s talk about how to take your power naps the right way. The best way for a midday nap that can help you feel well-rested and productive is to keep it short, optimize it, and take it at the right time of day.

The ideal nap time is right around 30 minutes. Sleep for any longer than that, you tend to wake up a lot groggy and more sluggish than before your catnap (true fact, it’s science). If I tailor my nap the right way, I feel a spring in my step for the rest of the day and my mind is a lot sharper. One thing I don’t think people realize is that your brain uses 20% of your body’s energy! 20%!  It literally needs a break sometimes. I also like the tip of taking a good ole’ caffeine nap. On days that I’m particularly sleepy, I love having a cup of coffee (no caffeine after 3 pm though!) or a glass of matcha, napping for about 20 minutes, and then waking up as the caffeine kicks in. Productivity hack? Oh yeah.

Related: Nutrition Hacks For Freelancers To Boost Your Productivity

An important realization you must make as an entrepreneur: If you’re not prioritizing sleep at night, all of the midday naps in the world won’t help you. Focus on creating a bedtime routine that you love, practicing rituals that get you to sleep, and then resting like the powerhouse you are. You could try a sleep app, CBD Oil, Sleep Matt or take a dreamy bath with Epsom salts. Even superheroes sleep, I promise.

2. Get Away From The Screens

Every time I’ve started to feel any inkling of burnout in my own business, it’s typically always been brought on by over-connectedness. Being a business owner in these times goes hand-in-hand with constant emails, push notifications, Zoom meetings, phone calls, LinkedIn pings, and so much more.

We are not meant to spend that much time in front of screens. We just aren’t.

While I get that staying connected is important, staying over-connected isn’t. Focus on taking time each day to completely and totally step away from every single one of your screens, whether it’s taking an unplugged lunch or a midday meditation. And, while blue light fatigue is a thing on its own, so is the constant mental stimulation that comes with constant screen time. 

Also, give yourself some dang boundaries. Decide a time that you’re off screens for the day—especially screens related to work—and stick to it. Once your self-imposed screen time limit is up, put the screens up. Work can pretty much always wait, but a lack of rest will quickly catch up with you.

3. Have Passions Outside Of Your Work

A huge piece of my own problem as an entrepreneur—and, I’d venture to guess, yours, too—is finding it really, really difficult to embrace and pursue my passions outside of my chosen career path. But, there’s nothing quite like that really wonderful hobby that has NOTHING to do with work, and it’s key in promoting rest.

I enjoy being active. I walk almost every day, do pilates, read, travel, cook, re-arrange furniture, talk to my plants, try all the latest face masks and I have been learning how to sail. Those things bring me joy. Passions make your world go round.

If you find it tricky to put aside work and focus on something that fills you up from the inside out, I challenge you to force yourself to do it anyway. Whether it’s getting re-obsessed with reading, planning a trip, taking up rollerblading or baking your way through the NYT food column, focus on resting by rejuvenating yourself in other ways. While IRA’s and profit margins are all good and dandy, there really isn’t anything like carving out the time to focus on—or, well,  find—a big passion.

I’m all about that hustle mentality. But, I’m always about the importance of rest and balancing the slow with the fast. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when I don’t prioritize rest; I think most of us have. By turning your focus inward and prioritizing taking a breath, you’ll be surprised at the increase in productivity, the uptick in happiness, and the downswing in exhaustion. What are your favorite ways to find rest as an entrepreneur? 




I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

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