If you’re in a leadership position, you know all too well how full your schedule gets, leaving little time for the “fun activities”. But, for health’s sake, it should never be too full to where there’s no time for self-care.
Why is self-care important? It’s what will keep you balanced and overall healthier. It keeps you grounded.
When you take care of your body and mind, you’re bound to be more productive, healthier, and happier. Every leader knows their best work comes when they feel their best. That’s really what self-care is all about.
If you’re still giving pushback to the idea, maybe this post will change your mind. Below you’ll uncover why it’s essential for leaders to increase their own self care practices now rather than later.
What is Self-Care?
Ever feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends? Working way harder than you should?
You’re probably in need of some increased self-care time. And, you probably know it.
By definition, self-care sounds much simpler than it is when it’s laid out as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.” If it were as easy as one action done once in a while, everyone would do it.
But self-care isn’t a once-in-a-while activity. Self-care includes the essential activities that one must do in order to maintain good physical health and emotional well-being. This includes making nutrition, hygiene, physical activity, and medical appointments a priority. It’s what you can do to best manage your health in a way that works for you.
It’s what brings you sustained joy and good health long-term, really.
That looks different for each person, of course, but the biggest benefit is always the same — better health overall.
The Biggest Benefits of Self-Care
Self-care activities are ways to better deal with life’s daily stressors. Research shows how helpful it is for individuals to take time for themselves to do what they enjoy to decompress. If stress is left unchecked for too long and with too little self-care, you’re looking at issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
But a consistent stream of self-care can change that.
- Help you relax
- Foster resilience
- Boost self-esteem
- Minimizes burnout risk
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve your mental health
- Promote healthier relationships
Self-care not only keeps you in a healthier mindset about your lifestyle choices, but it triggers a relaxation response, too. Creating space on your calendar for time to unwind can help you feel more balanced, less stressed, more energized and present.
Slowing down can also lead to increased productivity. It helps clear the mind and prioritize what needs to be done. During challenging times, it can be helpful to retreat and enjoy self-care activities to regroup before moving forward.
Self-Care Tips for Leaders
How many of us say we don’t have time to slow down and take care of ourselves? Leaders of successful companies are quite guilty of this when they have to balance personal life, business obligations, ongoing meetings, and more.
But, the best leader is one who is healthy and makes it a priority to stay strong mentally and physically. Consider these tips as a way to start working more self-care into your daily life:
Tip #1: Think About the Struggle
If another leader were coming to you asking how to handle stress, think about how you’d respond. First you might inquire about what’s stressing them and then you might offer ideas on fitting in ways to mitigate the stress. You might suggest time off or recommend a favorite activity of theirs. Consider the advice you would give to another respected colleague and then follow the advice yourself!
Tip #2: Remember Resistance is Normal
If you’ve pushed off the idea of self-care for a long time, there’s no time like the present to give it a try. It’s normal to resist change to what’s comfortable. Acknowledge your resistance and then work through misconceptions by trying different self-care activities. The ways you can do self-care your way might surprise you.
Tip #3: Create Mini Self-Care Sessions
Self-care doesn’t need to include drawn-out meditation sessions or difficult yoga routines. You can create mini moments throughout the day that help you tackle your needs best. For example, you might journal before a stressful meeting, stretch before and after lunch, and take an afternoon walk in a local park. Break up your self-care into time slots that work best for you.
Tip #4: Be Grateful
Gratitude practices can be a simple way to add self-care into your life. Research shows those who practice gratitude are happier and more content than those who don’t. Your practice can be as easy as shouting out thanks to staff members in an email or meeting or writing down what you’re thankful for each morning.
Tip #5: Make it Official
Lack of planning and, therefore, time are two reasons people often skip out on self-care. Just as you would schedule an important meeting, make the time in your calendar to enjoy self-care experiences. Whether you need to set phone reminders, schedule outings several weeks in advance, or set alarms, doing so will help you make your self-care activities official.
Tip #6: Be Kind to Yourself
Over time, you may find what you like doing for self-care changes. Embrace the change and try new activities that are more fulfilling and helpful for you. Perhaps you loved running, but a knee injury makes it too painful to do. Instead, try power walking or another heart-pumping activity to keep up that area of physical self-care. Adjusting and realigning your self-care routines as you see fit will also help build resilience, too. Be kind and patient with yourself.
Tip #7: Get Creative
If being overworked and stressed is your norm, it’s time to get creative in your self-care habits. That starts by slowing down and thinking of ways you can incorporate much-needed down time. Maybe you have a high-stress travel trip coming up. Look at ways you can enjoy even stressful moments. Perhaps you arrive early and enjoy a cup of coffee and a magazine. Maybe you wake up earlier and go have breakfast with the friend who is taking you to the airport. Those little moments add up; get creative with how you can add them in.
Tip #8: Schedule Those Annual Exams
It’s so easy to get to the fourth quarter of the year and realize you haven’t scheduled any of your necessary medical appointments. Don’t let a health condition take you by surprise because you’re “too busy” to schedule your necessary exams. In addition to seeing your regular doc and specialists, be sure to schedule follow-up exams and annual appointments now so you don’t push it off again next year!
Tip #9: Share What Works
If you’re enjoying your new or updated self-care routine, spread the news! Employees always appreciate honesty and proof that leadership actually means it when they say a company’s culture includes personal well-being. If you have a local hot yoga studio you love, share the name of it. Seeing major benefits from getting a weekly massage? Talk about it. Doing so makes leadership feel more relatable.
Tip #10: Take a Walk
Need a quick lift? Walking is one of the best ways to burn off steam, stretch the body, and get into a creative thinking mode. If a work project is puzzling you or your team is driving you nuts, head outdoors for some fresh air. Walking will also boost your mood because of increased blood flow to the brain.
Tip #11: Try an End-of-Day Reflection
At the end of each day, think about how your day went. Look at your wins and anything that caused some bumps. Consider how you might do things differently if you were presented with the same exact day filled with the same celebrations and problems. Then, close out the thought process with anything you’re grateful for when it comes to your company. It will help you end your work day on a positive note.
Lead By Example for Your Team
Taking time to take care of yourself is one of the best ways you can lead your team. In doing so, you’re showing them why self-care is important. Making self-care discussions a part of your company’s dialogue and culture may also inspire and encourage your employees to make time for self-care as well.
Here are some resources to share and enjoy:
- Little Ways to Practice Self-Care
- 15 Self-Care Books to Inspire Employees’ Well-Being
- 7 Self-Care Strategies for Your Employees
- 8 of the Best Mental Health and Self-Care Apps You Need to Download
Here’s to rediscovering why self-care is important for everyone, including you.