Self-Care – It’s Not Just About You
We hear a lot about self-care in ads, emails from HR and in the news. We’re constantly told to go on a tropical vacation, enjoy an expensive latte or take up meditation. I don’t know about you, but for years I thought – who has time for self-care? I’m working, raising kids and trying to keep up with household demands. I don’t have time for me.
But here’s the thing – self-care is not just about you.
Okay, we all know the airplane reference – you need to put your own mask on before you help those around you. This is used a lot because it’s true.
As a consultant, advocate and mom of an autistic child, I’m juggling a lot of balls. During those years where I rolled by eyes at the notion of self-care, I also dropped a lot of balls because my tank was empty.
After working with a business coach, I saw the need for self-care through a new perspective and completely changed my approach to how I ran my business and life.
So, what changed? I finally realized that my head down, full steam ahead approach was not only unsustainable, but also impacted the quality of my work and ultimately my life.
A few minor tweaks made a huge difference.
1. Schedule you time
The first shift was blocking time in my calendar for me. Since it doesn’t take long for my calendar to get booked with meetings, kids’ appointments and house demands, I didn’t have a moment left in the day to go for that walk or meet a friend for coffee.
I now book the time I need for me in my calendar a month in advance. This way, I don’t get pushed off the calendar, but rather hold space for myself in the busyness of the month. And if there is a true need for that time for a work or child appointment, I make sure I reschedule my personal time.
2. Valued client
One piece of advice from my coach that’s stuck – treat yourself as you would a million-dollar client. Would you skip a meeting with them to take a phone call? Would you ignore their needs, saying you’d get around to them eventually? Absolutely not.
You are the million-dollar client because without you, everything else falls apart.
Your self-care of going for a walk, or, heaven forbid, eating a hot lunch at a table, not your desk, means you’ll have the head space and energy for the next task on your plate. You’ll be able to keep your million-dollar client (you) happy and energized.
3. Blocks of work
While I know many people rave about multitasking, it’s often to their detriment. Answering that call while doing your bookkeeping or getting your kids out the door is actually harming your ability to focus and the quality of your work.
Did you know it takes around 25 minutes for your brain to regain focus after a disruption (according to Gloria Mark at the University of California)? Now think of all the disruptions you get in a day. It’s amazing we get anything done!
Instead of jumping from task to task, work in blocks.
If I have a meeting with a client, I don’t just book the meeting time. I also book time before the meeting to prepare and after to work on anything that arises from the meeting.
By setting aside time in blocks, I stay present and focused. And guess what? I’ve also found I’m able to accomplish significantly more output than when I jump from project to project. Less time on a project = more time for me.
4. Ripple effect
After a few weeks of scheduling walks, taking breaks, and working in blocks of time, I began to see changes in the quality of my work as well as my relationships with clients and, most importantly, my family.
I found that my daily lunch hour walks not only helped me focus on the afternoon’s tasks, but also provided space for new ideas to percolate. By walking away from my desk and getting my heart rate up, I’m able to recharge my batteries in a way that no third cup of coffee can.
I have also found I have more time (and patience) for my kids. By blocking time to work on projects, I’m not half thinking about work and half listening to my kids. I know there’s space in the calendar for that project, but right now is my kids’ time.
I’ll admit, there are moments when the old me wants to re-emerge and start juggling balls in the air. When I’m tempted to cancel my walk or volunteer for yet another committee, I look at my calendar to determine if it’s worth the pain. Rarely is it worth sacrificing my precious minutes of self-care.
I encourage you to look at your calendar and see where, or if, you are scheduling self-care. If you are – excellent. If not, what’s stopping you?
Although the word self is in self-care, remember it’s not just about you. By carving space for yoga, walks, reading a book or just staring out the window, you are recharging your battery to be fully present for those around you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go read the new Brene Brown book and have a cup of coffee.