Why Self-Care?

This is a topic that I’ve touched on a few times in other blog posts: Sustainability Starts With Self and How To Balance Your Personal And Professional Life. And when I mention self-care, I am not referring to ‘treating yourself’, busting out the credit card for some lavish expense: a fancy meal or a massage or a getaway. Nothing wrong with any of those by the way. But what I mean here is nuts and bolts maintenance.

What I notice with many of my one-to-one clients – a lot of them movers and shakers, which is great! – is how often they chase after their to-do lists, going from one urgent project to another. And when I teach them how to plan ahead, to better their relationship with their scheduling system, an interesting truth comes out. Every appointment is booked back to back with no space whatsoever in between. “Ok, great job on the calendar,” I’ll say. “Although I have to ask, do you not plan on using the restroom at all today? Or eating? Sleeping? Cleaning your house?” Sometimes, there isn’t even any commute time calculated into the day, as if each expected to teleport from one location to the next. This is all perfectly normal. It is also – and I say this with love – insane.

Burn Bright But Don’t Burn Out

When self-made men and women are interviewed on television or in magazines, you’ll hear a lot of talk about boot straps and overtime, and rarely, if ever, about their prioritization of sleeping well or drinking lots of water. In this world of go, go, go, few people recognize their physical and psychological health as major contributors to their success. Sadly, this is especially true in many nonprofits where burn-out has become a normalized aspect of the employment cycle. The mission statement says something about service to the community but for some reason those values and support aren’t extended to the folks that all make it happen! The people in-house.

Of course, this needn’t be a fixed reality. We’re all in charge of our own destinies. Here are some easy self-care tips we all need to be practicing and gently reminding each other to practice more often – including me.

  • Drink water. Lots of it. If the flavor bores you, make herbal teas (black teas may actually dehydrate you). Or try a squeeze of lemon and just a little sweetener in a glass. If you’re not properly hydrated, you may experience fatigue, muscle stiffness, dizziness or more serious symptoms. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and helps deliver nutrients for energy and overall health.
  • Eat often. I know, all you dieters out there are like, What?! But trust, when you have a small healthy snack every two or three hours, you’re less likely to gorge on a big plate come meal time. Plus, it helps keep your energy consistent, rather than having huge dips and spikes in blood sugar. Try fruit, a low sugar cereal bar, a cup of soup, or even a bowl of shredded wheat.
  • Stretch. Stretch in the morning, at night, and as many times in between. It’s good for circulation and helps you reset your mind and body as needed. Sometimes, that means getting out of the building multiple times during the day just to get fresh air, walking around the block, and then returning to work.
  • Set an alarm. Many of us have phones that can be programmed to beep at a specific minute. Go ahead and set times for any of the preceding tips. Those of us that work on computers tend to lose track of time most easily. Having a sound that can regularly ping us out of the hypnosis serves as a great and easy reminder to take care of self.
  • Sleep. Speaking of alarms… According to Nurtureshock author Po Bronson’s findings, just 30 minutes of less sleep has been shown to deplete the IQ levels of children by a whole two grade levels! Strangely, sleep also regulates weight control. For every hour less of sleep, kids’ risk of obesity goes up a whopping 80%! Sleep and siestas are often wrongly associated with luxury or laziness but ample rest is absolutely necessary to peak productivity during waking hours and over the course of a lifetime.

Discipline isn’t only about meeting project deadlines, it’s also about honoring one’s personal time – not to be confused with your boss’s definition of PT, those few allotted days out of the year that your company ‘allows’ you to take off from work. This is about checking in with yourself many times throughout the course of every day. Wealth may be measured by one’s public and glitzy accolades. It may also be recognized in one’s unassuming but especially important sense of general well-being. Self-care your way to success today.

Know anyone on the edge of burn-out? Share this with them today. Have any other tips to include? Please tell us about them in the comments section below! Thank you!