As a leader, there are times when you’re out there on the front line, burning the midnight oil, and taking the lead in every sense of the word. Those are the times, more than ever, when you need to make sure that someone is taking care of you, or that you’re taking care of your own personal well-being.
I often coach leaders during stressful times, whether there’s something happening just in their company, or around the world like a global pandemic. Recently a client surprised me by asking if she could pray for me.
As she expressed how grateful she was to have someone to talk to and care for her, it helped me remember that I need to take care of myself as well! Until then I’d had my own nose to the grindstone and I wasn’t thinking about my own self-care.
There are always going to be times when we need to step up our self-care. If we’re in the habit of practicing good self-care on a regular basis, we’re going to be more resilient in these special times.
There are different ways to take care of ourselves, and some will work better than others, depending on the day. Listen to your body, and your intuition. What’s it asking for?
Sometimes other people might notice these needs before you do. For example, the other day my wife observed that I was drinking more coffee than usual. That’s when I noticed I was more tired than I’d realized. So while exercise has served me very well as part of my self-care, I decided to use that day’s scheduled exercise time to take a nap.
Ideally, try to create a roster of different self-care practices that you can rotate day after day, and tap into when they meet your needs. These may include exercise, rest, or introspective activities like reading, meditation, or a quiet walk outdoors.
Other times you may draw energy and comfort from connecting with others. Reach out by phone or video chat, or check into an online forum of like-minded people.
Choosing how to best care for yourself today means not being tied to what you did yesterday or what you will do tomorrow. What’s most important is that you keep making it a top priority.
As a leader, you can model this message to the people you serve, and inspire them to improve their well-being as you strengthen your own.