I once worked with a small group of business executives who were burning themselves out. They wanted me to give them tools to get more out of others, but they were too edgy and tense to effectively deal with other people. I wanted to talk about some self-care and creating a peaceful, positive foundation for their lives and leadership. They felt like that was a waste of time.
Self-care is absolutely not a waste of time. If we are overwrought and overwhelmed, we cannot make good decisions, see the big picture of what is going on, or create positive relationships with others. As leaders, it’s imperative that we influence the world from a strong base of calm confidence and health. It’s almost impossible to interact with the world in a positive and intentional way without good health and a positive frame of mind.
So how do we take care of ourselves? What does good self-care look like? It’s helpful to look at our lives by category: relationships, financial health, personal well-being, and our physical environment. Here are a few questions to get you started for each category.
- Do you have a support network that gives you emotional and physical support (e.g., listen, tell you hard truths, bring you chicken soup, ferry you to the doctor)?
- Do you have any unresolved conflicts?
- If you have a romantic relationship, is it satisfying?
- Do you have any draining relationships?
- Do you generally get along well with others?
- Are you someone on whom others can depend?
- Do you pay your bills on time?
- Do you save regularly?
- Are you debt-free or have a plan to achieve that?
- Are your assets insured?
- Do you have six months of living expenses in a savings account?
- Are you able to live within your means?
- Do you have a plan for your financial future?
- Do you feel healthy and vibrant?
- Do you regularly see a doctor, dentist, and optometrist/ophthalmologist?
- Do you fuel your body with healthy food?
- Do you exercise regularly?
- Do you get enough sleep?
- Do you have a regular religious or spiritual practice?
- Is there any nagging physical ailment that needs to be addressed?
- Are weekends and evenings times of rejuvenation?
- Do you spend your free time intentionally or mindlessly?
- Do you have activities that you enjoy?
- Do you foster an attitude of gratitude?
- Do you feel peaceful when you walk into your home?
- Is your car well-maintained?
- Are your clothes clean and in good repair?
- Is your bedroom conducive to sleep?
- Is your home clean, organized, and well-maintained?
- Are your personal papers organized?
- Do you have beauty in your home?
Don’t worry if you aren’t squared away in every category! Few of us are. These are just questions to get you thinking about how you could eliminate some stress and create some joy in your life. We want to figure out what self-care items would give us the biggest bang for our buck. Start with one thing, master that one, and then move on to the next most useful action.
For example, if a cluttered house is a constant emotional drain, that may be the first thing to tackle. Years ago I took on clutter and organization. I used FlyLady’s method back then, but there are other cleaning gurus to follow now. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel or figure everything out on our own. There is always help out there.
If financial health is your challenge, someone like Dave Ramsey could be a big help. Having a plan and direction from an expert saves a lot of time and energy. A financial advisor who works with you individually is another option.
My emphasis right now is health. I’ve lost the health routines that make me feel better. I know that daily stretching and some sort of movement make me feel much more vibrant and energetic.
In addition, I am getting some outside support. I am setting up a regular schedule for Rolfing, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage. It’s also time to have my eyes checked! My own health has not been my priority over the past couple of years, and I am ready to change that.
Self-care helps us create peace in our lives. When we have a peaceful foundation, it’s easier to act intentionally. We don’t get triggered as easily, and daily challenges seem less overwhelming.
Go get a massage! Watch a movie with a friend! Go on a retreat! Meditate! Have a spa day! Here is a good one: Hire a life coach! 😉 Activities that we often feel are self-indulgent are really just good self-care that makes us better leaders in all aspects of our lives.
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