Recharge Yourself

Over the past few days I was trying to have a few days of rest whilst bridging the public and easter holidays. Yet I kept getting calls, emails and messages from various clients, even on public and easter feast days, which made me reflect. I know Business Leaders have been trying to navigate a very turbulent time but that does not mean that their business would be any better if they drive themselves into exhaustion. It seems that many business leaders are finding it even more hard to define working time and resting time as time boundaries are becoming more blurred.

So let me start by asking you some basic questions:

– Do you feel so busy that you don’t have the bandwidth to think about your own needs, let alone do anything about them?

– Are you constantly thinking about work, or worry that you’re not proving yourself or your value if you aren’t available 24/7 (especially if you’re working remotely)?

– How do you carve out time for yourself, your health, and your needs if you’re always on?

The first step is to stop, take a deep breath, and realise that the world doesn’t rest completely on your shoulders. Many times people around you could help more if you simply asked and spread out the responsibilities. In some cases, you just need to let go and trust that everything will be OK, even if some tasks on your list are done imperfectly.

The next step is to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. If you put off self-care until work is less busy or some other circumstances are exactly right, you may never get to it. But if you take a brief pause and go through the below outlined steps, you can begin to take care of yourself, even when it feels like the responsibilities at work never end.

Below are some steps to help you achieve some level of self care.

1. Define What You Need: Take a moment to define what you need and what you want. Ask yourself:

– How many hours of sleep are sufficient for me to be alert throughout the day?
– What kind of physical movement keeps me feeling in shape?
– What nourishment keeps up my energy and makes me feel satisfied?
– Which people do I enjoy spending time with?
– How can I connect with myself?
– Any activities that give me joy (a hobby, reading, volunteering, etc.)?

2. Determine What You Can Do: There are phases, when for example work is particularly busy,that you may not be able to do all the self-care you would prefer. But you can still do something. Think through what’s reasonable given your current situation. For example, maybe it’s not possible to train for a half marathon right now, but you could take half an hour to run a few times a week. Maybe you can’t guarantee that you’ll sleep through the night given the ages of your kids, but you can go to bed an hour early to give yourself some margin. Perhaps you can’t see your friends as much in person, but you can give them a phone call while you’re cooking dinner or running errands. Take a look at your schedule and where there may be small pockets of time. What would work to fulfill your needs now, within the time you have?

3. Set the Time: You’ll need to consciously set aside time for self-care. In doing so, you will clearly give yourself permission that this is the most important and appropriate thing to do now. Scheduling helps you to see where self-care fits into your schedule and how other essential activities have their places around it. Think through when you want to make taking care of yourself a priority. Not only does self-care recharge you, but it can also motivate you to stop wasting time on unsatisfying activities. It’s less tempting to scroll through social media in the afternoon if you know you need get your work done by 5 p.m. to then go for a walk before dinner. To make this happen, you’ll need to have resolved that your self-care time is sacred and that you’re going to follow through on it.

4. Prepare yourself and Others: That means eliminating hurdles and putting in items that re-enforce positive behaviours. For example, if you want to eat healthier, have a standard weekly grocery list of nutritious food, remove unhealthy food from your kitchen, and have some quick premade or takeout options for those days when you’re in a pinch. To reinforce positive behaviours, think about the details in advance. Eliminate the friction between yourself and your goal. Lay out your workout clothes by the foot of your bed — or even wear them to bed as pajamas — to save time before going out for a run. Or, install an app on your phone and computer that locks you out at a certain time as a reminder to get sufficient sleep. Remember what you’re doing and why it’s important to you, so when you’re tired or feeling unmotivated, you will still follow through. Also prepare others. Set boundaries. If someone suggests an early morning or late night meeting and it’s negotiable, ask for a time that will work better for your sleep schedule or other self-care routines. If you find yourself perpetually having last-minute requests given to you by your boss or clients, have a conversation with them about the possibilities. Could you be informed of upcoming needs sooner? Could you receive work earlier? Could deadlines be negotiated? To have time for self-care, you’ll need to advocate for yourself and your needs to make it happen.

You can take steps to make sure that you put focus and attention on taking care of yourself each day. “Always on” doesn’t have to mean you must sacrifice your needs. It just means sometimes finding the time to make sure that your focus is on yourself. YOU CANNOT PERFORM IF YOU NEGLECT YOURSELF.

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