Changing your habits of health to balance a career with a personal life — which are now more often intertwined than not — doesn’t necessarily have to include drastic changes.

Tammy Lee Xena Therapies

Tammy Lee

Sometimes, it’s smaller and intentional decisions that make a difference.

Peppers, Tomatoes, Peace

Tammy Lee, CEO of Red Wing-based medical device company Xena Therapies, admitted she has not done a “great job” of balancing life and managing stress during this whirlwind of a year. Her company, founded in January, had to be temporarily shut down due to COVID-19, and she’s been working day in and day out to pivot the business model.

“It’s all you think, live, and breathe when it’s yours,” Lee said of running your own company versus working for one.

With an executive corporate background, Lee explained there’s an entirely different level of stress and pressure in this endeavor. Now that it’s summertime, however, one small way she’s managing stress and improving her habits of health is by starting a garden with peppers and tomatoes. The hobby gets her outside, produces healthy food options, and provides stress relief.

Jesse Haas

Jesse Haas

“[My] wellness and mental health and nutrition will improve with this salsa garden,” she said.

With a daughter and dog at home, Lee enjoys cooking and connecting over dinner each night.

“It’s therapeutic to cook a healthy meal for your family,” she said.

Jesse Haas, a certified functional nutritionist and co-founder of holistic healthcare community Wellness Minneapolis, highlighted the importance of the dinner ritual.

“It doesn’t need to be complicated but getting in the kitchen is a key component to building wellbeing in a lifestyle,” she said, mentioning that cooking was essential for having a real handle on a healthy diet.

The employees of Xena Therapies also find a way to connect by taking turns bringing in lunch for one another at the recently re-opened plant. Lee said sharing meals as a work family builds collegiality and also ensures lunch breaks are taken.

Get a Little Nutty

Akua Konadu

Akua Konadu

Akua Konadu, a social media strategist who helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses through Instagram (her business launched in January), has started setting timers for herself to make sure she’s taking breaks to eat.

“I’m the type of person who doesn’t eat if the work isn’t done,” Konadu said. “That’s not healthy, so I’ve had to physically schedule food in.”

Experiencing burnout to the point of health issues at her previous job, Konadu had to learn what worked best for her and incorporate that into her own business.

“My worth was attached to my work,” she said of why she overworked herself. “Now that I have my own business, I shape it to what I want to do and what brings me joy.”

Accepting this and stepping out of the nine-to-five routine has greatly improved Konadu’s mental health. Now, she works from about 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with breaks, tries to be intentional with what and when she eats — she suggests nuts as a healthy snack — and has a new slogan:

“If it costs me my peace, it’s too expensive.”

Interested in hearing more about health lifestyles from Minnesota entrepreneurs? Check out some other entries in our Work Well series!

Nutrition for Success

Getting Into Your Work From Home Rhythm

Finding Your Healthy Mindset

Incorporating Family Into Routine

Wearing One Hat at a Time