It can be difficult for busy professionals, leaders and business owners to make time for themselves. This topic can be dismissed as something that is only for women. While men may not get manicures and pedicures as often as women, they should make sure that they have enough energy to function. This is about taking care of yourself.
If we neglect to take care of ourselves, it puts us in an increased risk of stress. This can lead to decreased emotional management and burnout. Although self-care may not be on our list of top 10 priorities today, it’s time to add them to yours! Before making a list of “ideals”, you need to know what self-care is for you.
My family and friends have criticised me for being too busy and not taking care of myself. Sometimes it was difficult to grasp what they meant. While I knew I was busy, I was still doing the things I loved and valued. I also found energy and space to do those things. Friends and family said space was at the expense of my downtime. But sometimes, I felt lost as to what I should be doing. It was impossible for me to sit at home and read for three hours, or even one hour, while continuing to pursue the hobbies that I loved. It felt like an absurdity: “Relax, take care of yourself, but do not schedule anything.” How can you book a massage and how do I fit it into my busy schedule? I usually answer “I’m fine” I had self-care items planned into my day. I felt energized despite my business. But I knew that I wasn’t really taking care myself or making time for down-time. It just seemed more stressful planning those in to my day.
My body wasn’t keeping up with me as it used to. This was what finally caught my attention. My second child was born and I was diagnosed as having Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. You may experience tiredness, brain fog and body aches. I thought, “What’s the new?” It’s not hard to do. I just had to keep going. To enjoy productivity and get things done, I had a full-time job, family, and volunteer work.
Then, I hit my 40s. I enjoyed everything I did, but I noticed a lot of stress due to the small margins I allowed for myself. This is why I began to experience anxiety and panic attacks. This caught my attention. This new challenge was presented to me with mediation, which I found had side effects. I tried to return to the years of choices and efforts that I had made to exercise, journal, journal, or just have quiet time. I noticed the differences between people who looked older but were active and those who looked the same age as me. When I realized how my low margins allowed me to get a lot done, but also significantly increased my stress load, this was when I began to think about the negative effects of my low margins. My anxiety and compromised help contributed to my stress load, which had its own ripple effect.
You might be in denial about your self-care, and people are telling you to slow down. Or maybe you’ve had your own moment of clarity and realized the importance and value of self-care. Everyone should take care of themselves, their mind and body. But, for the busy professional, it is especially important to look after yourself. Connecting with many people is a way to make an impact. Your ability to continue doing what you do and the amount of positivity that you share will be affected by your self-care. How do you make it happen?
#1) The Fundamentals. Fundamentals are the things that will ensure your ongoing sustainability. If we are young and healthy, we can take advantage of our health and not have to do the basics. As we age, we begin to see the effects of not taking care of ourselves or the incredible shape of those who did. Similar suggestions are made in articles and research on health.
– Sleep. Don’t cheat yourself. 8 hours is enough.
MOVE. A daily walk is better than none. A pedometer is a great tool. Do 10K steps. Get outside. (I lived in Minnesota, so I know how difficult it can be.
WATER. It is ideal to drink your entire body in water, but for some people, drinking just more water is better. Lemon wedges, or anything else that will help you drink as much water as possible each day.
– GREENS. Increase your intake of vegetables and greens, such as spinach, kale, and other leafy greens. The good greens can be hard for me, but I find it easier to eat them more often.
– ANTIOXIDANTS. Use with healthy foods like turmeric, blueberries, cinnamon, oregano and nuts. Or as a great supplement.
BREATHE. You can relax and de-stress by taking 10 deep breaths per day or classic meditation.
#2) Restoring your body, mind, and spirit. There is a distinction between the self-care checklist, and learning to listen and trust my intuition. The checklist can be useful to give you ideas, help you get started, or allow you to explore different options for what you might need. Deeper self-care does not mean being dependent on a checklist. It is about responding to your inner voice. The body requires water if it is thirsty. The list of beverages could be as varied as soda, tea, coffee or juice. But if you really want to know what your body needs, you can listen to it and know that even if you drink other options, you’ll still feel thirsty. Water is essential for our bodies to stay hydrated. In self-care it is equally important to learn to listen to your body and what your mind and spirit are asking for.
Checklist examples of self-care activities that can be included in your daily or weekly routine.
– Body (helps you feel physically better): Massage, walking outside, eating a meal, stretching, taking a break for a 10 minute, eating fruit, breakfast, drinking more water, cutting sugar, sun exposure, laughing
Mind: Meditation, reading a book or playing an instrument, journaling, journaling, making a list, setting a boundary, reading positive quotes and inspirations and de-cluttering.
– Spirit: Encourages the heart, brings joy and inner sense of peace.
– Intuitive direction. Listening to your intuition and inner voice will help you know what you need. This might sound like something you have on your self-care list, or it might seem completely random. It might be hard to do, but it’s important that you understand your body and believe it is leading you in the right direction. You might find it this way:
– You’ve been working all day on your computer. You feel tired and sluggish. You wonder, “What can I do to recharge my batteries?” Go for a walk.
You feel uninspired or unmotivated. You wonder, “What can I do to refuel?”
– Even though there are people around you, you feel alone. You wonder, “What can I do to make it better?” DON’T FORGET YOUR BFF.
– You feel overwhelmed and left behind. You wonder “What can I do to reduce stress?” MAKE A LIST.
– All your projects make you feel anxious and frustrated. You wonder, “What can I do to relax?” Listen to music and go for a walk.
It doesn’t matter what it is, there is no right or wrong. It’s not magic. Listening to your body and allowing it to tell you what it needs is not magic. It can sound a little woo-woo, and I hope it is clear that I am not referring to anything illegal or inappropriate. However, once you become more comfortable listening to your body (through stilling your mind and listening with your heart), you will find helpful information that doesn’t come from your head and the endless list of possible actions. Instead, you will receive true self-care that is right for you at this moment and time to help you be your best.