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Startup founders: What do you do to unwind?

Last night I asked twitter what startup founders do to unwind:

Startup founders: What do you do to unwind? I started gaming about a year ago and just got an acoustic guitar. What works for you?— Colin Nederkoorn (@alphacolin) January 22, 2014

Here are some of the responses, and a summary of what people said and things I’ve been doing.

Watch TV

@alphacolin @joelgascoigne Watching Big Bang Theory (previously Friends) - instant unwind, brain switches off.— Daniel Tenner (@swombat) January 22, 2014

I really need something like that.                           Sometimes if I work until 10 or 11, I struggle to rest my brain before getting in bed and can’t fall asleep. Recently I’ve been watching “Vikings” to switch off my brain.

I have a feeling TV is a popular one because it’s so easy to just plop yourself on the couch and watch a show.

If you haven’t got anything, here are a few series I’ve loved recently:

  • Sherlock (BBC series)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Under the Dome (bad, but watchable)
  • Game of Thrones (a little obvious)

Play a video game

@alphacolin Gaming typically. I play about 15-30 min of Quake most nights just before bed (Q2 DM). Keeps me sharp!— Chad Keck (@ckeck) January 22, 2014

I started gaming about a year ago and found that on the weekend, spending a day enveloped in a game was a great way to unwind. I’m not a “good” gamer, so serious FPS or MMORPG games don’t really appeal. I want something more casual that doesn’t need a lot of built up skill to play.

I built a little steam box and have ended up buying more games than I play.

Recently, I’ve been playing:

  • Team Fortress 2
  • Left 4 Dead 2

Other games I really enjoyed

  • Borderlands 2
  • The Walking Dead
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Portal 2
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • FTL

Do some exercise

@alphacolin I run. Running just clears my mind and it always works like a reboot for me.— Nikolaj Astrup (@nikolajam) January 22, 2014

  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Going to the gym
  • Biking

A lot of people mentioned exercise as a key part of what they do. Doing it feels amazing, but it’s easy to fall in to a slump (especially in the winter in NY).

I’ve found that spending the extra cash to get locker and laundry service at a gym walking distance from work gives me no excuse to just walk over there and get in a workout at lunch. So far I’m up to twice this week and hoping to get to three times a week.

A great option for people who don’t like to work out is a “Multi-vitamin hobby” (I love that term).

@alphacolin Find a "multi-vitamin" hobby. Mine is salsa dancing. It's got music, exercise, learning new things, socializing and creativity.— Logan Volkers (@logvol) January 22, 2014

Do something creative

A lot of startup founders (especially product focused founders) seem to have some kind of art outlet.

For me it’s playing guitar. I stopped playing guitar regularly about 6 years ago, but recently picked it up again. After reading extensively on reddit and elsewhere I bought a Seagull S6 acoustic guitar. Last night I started learning “Snow” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Guitar sites have come a long way since I last checked out tabs online.

Cook a meal

@alphacolin Not work more than 30 hours a week; hanging out with people, reading, watching old TV series, gaming, cooking. :)— Thomas Fuchs (@thomasfuchs) January 22, 2014

I usually cook at home. I put on a few pounds over the holidays and decided to try a “Ketogenic diet” for a while (basically removing starchy carbs). After a few weeks I’ve noticed I don’t get “hangry” anymore and my mood is generally more stable.

In general, I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and we had Blue Apron for about a year and got 3 meals a week we didn’t have to think about.

Read a books

Books are a great way to relax. I usually get in to a book when going off the grid for a weekend.

I usually read fiction over business books otherwise it feels like work.

Here are a few I’ve loved recently:

  • 11/22/63 - Stephen King
  • The ender series - Orson Scott Card
  • The Walking Dead (graphic novel) - Robert Kirkman
  • The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins
  • The Game of Throne series - George R.R. Martin

Go off the grid to relax or meditate

Out of the topic areas above you could probably pick and choose which thing is for you.

The one thing I’ve heard from so many founders and experienced myself is that sometimes you just need to turn everything off and tune out for a weekend.

@alphacolin A walk is always good.. and taking weekends off to relax and rejuvenate. @HotelTonight is awesome for impromtpu mini-vacays— Alex Shye (@alexshye) January 22, 2014

For my birthday I got a trip to a B&B in Hudson NY. It was fantastic and I felt like the time away did me a world of good.

Building in some meditation in to daily life seems to do wonders for the people who do it:

@alphacolin Yeah, have done meditation on and off in the past. Headspace has been helpful: http://t.co/OA2OASTe9S— Ruben Gamez (@earthlingworks) January 22, 2014

I’m giving meditation a try. I’m one day in to my 10 day trial so I can’t speak to it yet.

I hope you enjoyed this compilation of the feedback that people gave. I posted the full list of comments on Storify.

If you have anything I missed, let everyone know in the comments.

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