In our fast-paced and demanding world, it's easy to lose sight of the importance of self-care. Most people are fighting similar battles against work overloads, family obligations, and financial pressures.
In this modern-day world, you're constantly bombarded with information, notifications, and demands on your time. You may also feel like you're constantly moving fast, yet you can never catch up. Much of what needs to be done might be unnecessary, yet you feel compelled to do it all. The result is that the quality of the work suffers or you burn out trying to do everything at once.
Self-care is more about practicing self-respect and prioritizing your well-being above everything else. That's why so many people are turning to self-care to regain control of their lives. Self-care helps you re-energize to become better versions of yourself professionally and personally. The most important thing about self-care is that it's completely customizable based on your needs, goals, values, and preferences. And as leaders, it's essential to care for yourself so you can be the best leader you can be. This starts with making some changes in your life today:
1. Redefine What Self-Care Means To You
It's easy to get swept up in other people's definitions of being well. But that might be out of alignment with your specific needs. Take a moment to introspect on the following questions: What does "self-care" mean to me? How would I define it? How does it differ from self-indulgence or self-love? How can I use this definition as a starting point for my own self-care experience? By understanding what self-care means to you, you can create a routine that supports you before burnout.
2. Understand What Mental Health Means To You
The phrase mental health is broad within itself. Do you have a clear understanding of how your mental health plays out in your life? Take a moment to introspect on the following questions: Do you think mental health is different from physical health? What role do emotions play in your overall well-being? How do you differentiate between feelings such as sadness or anger versus depression or anxiety? How has your mental health shifted recently? When you become more self-aware about your mental health, you can create more preventative measures that support you in difficult times.
3. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking leads to burnout and stress. Stop trying to do everything at once because it's a myth, an impossible task to achieve. Set realistic goals and focus on one thing at a time instead of juggling multiple tasks at once. Focus on your priorities first – what matters most to you? Is it your health? Your relationships? Your career? Once you know what matters most, spend more time on these things so that they become part of who you are. The more you multitask, the more it creates distractions and moves you away from being mindful and present at the moment.
4. Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Day
There are many studies on the positive effects of mindfulness. More mindfulness practices create more self-control, improved concentration, mental clarity, emotional intelligence, kindness, acceptance, and compassion for self and others. If meditation is difficult for you, try increments such as 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes, and so forth, and increase it over time. Other ways to practice mindfulness are to eat slower, move slower, and move with intentionality and that will also bring more mindfulness into your life.
5. Conduct An Energy Audit
What is depleting your energy? It's hard to give all of yourself when you lack energy. Take inventory when you have the most energy throughout the day, then ask yourself which tasks energize and deplete you. By understanding your energy levels and respecting them, you can flow easier throughout your day.
6. Consider A Social Media Fast
Social media is a great tool to connect, learn, and build your business. However, on the flip side, it can cause depression and anxiety due to the comparison trap that you might fall into. You may find yourself asking, "Why isn't my business further ahead?" or, on a personal level, you might find yourself latching onto your insecurities.
Excessive media consumption can have a counter effect, so be aware of how social media impacts your mental health. Social media can cause anxiety, loneliness, and fear of missing out. First, ensure your feed is a positive reflection, as this is something you can curate. Make sure what you're exposing yourself to is pouring into you and not subtracting. Lastly, take time off from social media and do intentional social media fast. Schedule intentional conversations with friends/colleagues and step away from the screen.
7. Move More Often
Energy needs to flow, and if you're not moving enough, energy becomes blocked. Regular or even daily walks for 10-30 minutes can improve your mood and help ward off anxiety and depression while improving your self-esteem. Not only is your body receiving oxygen, but walking also helps with mental clarity, and if you take a walk in nature, you'll reap the benefits of green spaces. Spending time in nature reduces stress levels, again helping to improve your mood.
8. Practice Gratitude Writing
Practice gratitude daily by writing down three things you are thankful for or what you're grateful for the day. Giving thanks creates more positive emotions, help you manage adversity, and enables you to build stronger relationships. Having a daily gratitude practice helps you feel more optimistic about life, reduces the stress levels in your body, and brings about more appreciation for what you have. A gratitude practice is low-hanging fruit with powerful long-term benefits.
9. Leverage Your Support Systems
Being well also includes supportive networks. Don't be intimidated in seeking out mentors/advisors, therapists, and coaches who can support you. Mentors and advisors are perfect because they most likely have been where you are and have a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial journey. At the same time, coaches and therapists can assist you in sharpening your emotional intelligence and give you tools to manage your relationship with yourself and others better.
10. Be Mindful Of What You Eat
The foods that you eat will significantly impact your mood. Popping red bulls might give you a short boost, but over time, most ingredients in energy drinks are toxic and can cause rapid heart rate and even anxiety. Processed and sugary foods can increase depression and irritability. Eating heavy foods like pizza, fried chicken, etc., can make you feel sluggish. So do an audit of the foods you're eating and source brain and heart-healthy foods to help improve your mood.
Self-care is not just about wellness or self-love. It is about being present with yourself to be present with others. Self-care is an active process: it requires intentionality and effort. As a creative entrepreneur, you have a unique opportunity to pursue your passion and leave a mark on the world. But along the way, you're going to face unexpected challenges and setbacks, which can make you feel drained and leave you uninspired. Focusing on self-care will help counteract this by reminding yourself of the things that matter most — including your own growth and development. There are many ways to make self-care easier on yourself by customizing what works best for you.