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Attention Women Entrepreneurs: You Can't Achieve Big Goals Without Taking Care Of Yourself First Your energy is a valuable resource, especially in your 40s. Use these tips to stay strong and focused.

By Caroline Stokes

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

jhorrocks | Getty Images

As entrepreneurs, we lead busy work lives; thus, we have a tendency to forget about our bodies. We tend to our body -- but mostly our brains -- to a level that will allow us to thrive in the office. Then, office stress makes us sick. It's a vicious cycle.

That's why I created a Facebook group, for a community of high-performing people between the ages of 30 and 60 committed to living healthier lives. And to hold us all accountable, the participants commit to movement of any type for 100 days.

Within this community, I couldn't help but notice the conversations women were having among themselves within the 35-60 age group. They were tired. They were stressed. I know these women, and the tremendous results they create and experience every day. There was a disconnect: why couldn't they also feel great? Why should all their success be about chasing the next goal?

I could relate. Many of their complaints were also issues that I faced. I knew I had to do something about it, so I went to my doctor. I wanted to know: what can I do to have more energy? Clearly, the default behaviors I'd established in my 20's and 30's were no longer adequate in my 40's. I needed guidance.

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Here's what I found: I didn't need to run a marathon, or start a new fitness program, or go on a 30-day detox. All I needed to experience massive gains in my energy levels were small tweaks to what I was already doing. I could incorporate quick, pleasurable practices into my day and have increased focus, higher energy, and better sleep.

Here are my top three, physician-approved recommendations for how overachieving women can increase their energy levels.

Eat mindfully. Our body is designed to digest food when we are relaxed and our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. But so often, we go around with our sympathetic nervous systems activated. Digestion doesn't happen there. Just think about our ancestors -- they couldn't be bothered to digest nuts and berries if they were running from a pack of predators!

That's why we need to activate our parasympathetic nervous systems before taking a bite of food. To do this, try a breathing exercise before your next meal: take in a breath for a count of three, then exhale for a count of six. Be sure you've removed yourselves from all screens and distractions: focus solely on your food.

Appreciate it as you take each bite: what colors do you see? How does it smell? How does the food taste and feel in your mouth? By activating our parasympathetic nervous systems, we tell our bodies that we are safe. It is safe to eat the food before us, safe to let the digestive system do its work.

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Have better sex. I told you these practices were pleasurable. In addition to being fun, orgasmic sex has a wide range of health benefits. Orgasms relieve stress, are good for your heart, boost your immune system, and help you sleep better. "Better sex, better health," is not just a fun saying -- it's actually true.

Get enough iron. This one is simple but profound. Did you know that pre-menopausal women need 18 mg of iron a day (as opposed to a man's 8 mg), and that 10 percent of women are iron deficient? If you've felt perpetually exhausted and unsure why, it may not be the dire scenario you're envisioning. Of course, consult a physician if you have a concern, but you could just need more iron.

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That was the case for me; when I added an iron supplement to my daily intake along with a vitamin C tablet to aid absorption, my energy levels slowly but surely improved. I was no longer in the anemic danger zone in which my mental and physical capabilities weren't as sharp. This simple tweak yielded enormous benefits.

But above all, be kind to yourself.

Immerse yourself in nature. Go for a quick walk around your neighborhood. Send a thank you letter to someone who helped you this week. Recognize that having great health and increased energy is not about "getting back" to any imaginary level of health and fitness we experienced in our 30's, twenties, or even teens. It's about honoring where we are in life right now and making small adjustments to make our "right now' the best it can be.

Caroline Stokes

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Author, Executive Leadership Development Coach, Facilitator

Caroline Stokes is CEO of FORWARD and author of Elephants Before Unicorns: Emotionally Intelligent HR Strategies To Save Your Company

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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