Self-care as a leader

In my recent appreciation post for Sam, I mentioned self care. I thought I would share some of the self care approaches I’ve leveraged throughout the years.

  • Exercise: You don’t have to become a marathon runner or enter a Spartan race. However, regular exercise completely helps with my stress levels. Additional bonus, I also find I come up with really interesting ideas while I exercise – oxygen to the brain does amazing things.
  • Read a non-work related book: Whatever your pleasure is, get lost in another story. I know you don’t think you have time but those emails will still be there tomorrow; read right before you go to bed. I found my sleep improved because I wasn’t still turning the current issue over and over in my mind.
  • Let people know you need check-ins: Seems so straight forward, but a person simply asking “how are you” a little more frequently, sending a virtual “thinking of you” a little more often or best giving you an extra smile (maybe hug if that’s your thing) as you walk by…does wonders in remembering people are there to support you. You don’t need to explain why you need support; just that you do.
  • Sounding board: Sure as a leader you can’t talk to anyone in the company about the challenges you are facing for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk at all. Is there a partner you respect in HR, your manager, a spouse (leave names out), etc?
  • Increase appreciations: This one might seem a little different but when I appreciate others, I get happier. I enjoy helping and witnessing people grow and achieve things. Since it can be easy to get lost in my own problems, taking the time to appreciate (see) what others are doing…well, helps me get out of my own little world of pity at the moment.
  • Token or symbol: Someone gave me this little piece of paper with a special codeword written on it. When she gave it to me, she explained what the code word meant (let’s just say it had some swear words associated to being around people that were causing you pain/frustration). Then as I found myself in a moment, I would simply touch that piece of paper and smile. Which is not the reaction the other person was anticipating but led to us being able to keep talking. You can feel something but you don’t have to act on it. Simply recognizing it and moving on was enough.
  • Self-talk: This one is new for me and one that I’m not super comfortable with…yet. A friend told me to repeat “I’m sensational” until I started to believe it. What I found was that when I said it – I had to think of some moment where that was true to feel genuine, which in turn reminded me of successes and let me to actually feeling better.
  • Take a break: Sometimes, to get the best perspective you need distance. I know it can feel impossible to take days off but you very well may need exactly that.
  • Massage: And if all else fails, I personally enjoy a relaxing massage.

What self-care techniques do you use as a leader?

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