Self Care for Women Leaders
When was the last time that you felt fully rested or did not feel any anxiety over the things that you should be doing? Now imagine that could be your life everyday. Imagine what life would be like if you had time for your career, family and yourself all at the same. I have seen too many leaders sacrifice their health and relationships and get burned out all because they couldn't lead others while still prioritizing their self care.
Now a common myth is thatI know that we are told that as leaders we have to hustle and need to put in 80-100 work weeks to stay ahead in our companies and businesses in order to stay competitive. And that is ok for some time but that cannot be the norm as a long term strategy as we are not robots. We are human beings that need to take time out to rest, take care of our health and leave room and space for creativity and mind rest. This is what I call the hustle fallacy. This fallacy that we are all sold on from society causes psychical and relational pain. This is self neglect. Listen I get it, at my corporate career there were many times when from working close to 80 hour weeks I neglected and felt guilty over my marriage or spending time with my kids. At so many points in time, I started asking what was the point of me working so hard where I wasn’t enjoying my family or making any time for me. I was very irritable and impatient with my team, husband and kids. And that is no way to live.
On the outside it looked like I had it all figured out but on the inside I was hurting, tired and always feeling guilty that I should have spent more time with my family and kids. I was always in conflict with the fact that I was doing a lot but achieving little because I was not happy or fulfilled.
Your work gives you joy and financial provision, creativity but your family gives you happiness and health gives you a rested body and clear mind. We need all three and we shouldn't have to choose.
There was a study done and it measured that workers' risk for heart attack grows to 11-20% on Mondays. High achievers are in high demand and are always given more on their plate so they struggle with saying no so they dip in their personal priorities for the sake of their work and getting ahead.
When we buy into the hustle fallacy, the first thing that goes on the wayside is self care because it is considered a luxury. It is not a luxury that is a basic human need. There is a reason that we are human beings and not human doings.
How many of you have skipped a workout, lacked sleep or carved in family time in the last month? I am sure that there are so many of you including me sometimes.
I want to define Self care which describes the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work while contributing to greater performance at work. It plays out in our daily habits like eating well, exercising, making time for reflection, hobbies and spending meaningful connected time with our loved ones.
Also as leaders It seems that the higher the vision, the more you sacrifice self care. It should be the opposite where the higher your vision the more you have to prioritize self care.
I will recap with the three benefits to self-care.
Benefit # 1. Self care gives you more energy. I don’t know about you but I will take all the energy I can get personally and professionally. The biggest obstacle that I always hear leaders say is I don't have time. Time is a fixed entity and we all get 24 hours a day and can't flex. Energy can flex. You can bring a sharper, more energetic you to bear all the time you get. Productivity is less about managing time and more about managing energy. Research shows we can only be productive at 50 hours a week. After that you are spinning your wheels in un productivity. You are a person that needs rest to be at your best.
Benefit # 2 Self Care gives you the competitive edge. It's very competitive out there. Self-care fuels creativity. People that sleep 6 hours or less have less innovation and creativity. If you and your team needs a breakthrough consider that you might just need a break. Regular exercise increases self confidence, efficacy and on average 11-15% more earnings. The endorphins that you get from exercising give workers the belief that they can do almost anything and it increases their productivity at work.
Benefit # 3 Self care Increases your endurance as well. Who do you want to be? Do you want temporary or long term success? We usually think we are the exception and nothing will happen to us since we might consider ourselves strong as a horse. But that’s not true.
Arianna Huffington after a series of 80 hours work weeks broke her cheekbone on her desk and fell on the floor in her office. That is what exhaustion does for you.
1. Make a commitment to self care. If not now, when?
2. Set hard boundaries around nights and weekends.
3. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Lastly Lead by example: Leaders go first. Be the example that you want your team to see!
You owe it to yourself!
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