One of the struggles that many business leaders face involves incorporating self-care into their lives. Individuals often believe that being a good leader means constantly working. As a result, they throw off their work-life balance and end up feeling burnt out rather quickly. When leaders burn out, they disengage from their work, which can prove detrimental to the organization as a whole and set a bad example for other employees. However, because these individuals also feel a responsibility to their company, they continue to try to maintain the same pace, as their productivity and the quality of their work falls.
The secret to success that many organizations have already found is creating a culture that supports and encourages self-care. When leaders take care of themselves, they remain engaged when they are in the office and are excited about work, which ultimately results in a better product. Since employees look to their leaders as an example, executive have an important role to play in modeling self-care and creating the type of culture that encourages people to take time for themselves. In general, organizations that promote self-care enjoy a higher level of morale among employees and witness stronger performance.
What Effective Self-Care Looks Like in the Corporate Setting
Sometimes, the prospect of self-care can feel daunting in itself. However, the purpose of incorporating self-care into a daily schedule is not to pile more onto a plate that is already full. At its heart, self-care should flow from business leaders’ sense of personal mission and an intention to stay connected to themselves. When self-care is reactionary, it starts to feel like a chore. Judgment or criticism regarding the need for self-care, whether it comes from within or from a third party, will not lead to relaxation. For self-care to prove beneficial, leaders need to understand its value and purpose. Part of this understanding stems from a recognition of the fact that health involves a number of different components.
When leaders become stuck in the belief that self-care relates only to physical health, they set themselves up for burnout down the line. While obtaining adequate sleep and exercise is important, these things alone do not add up to optimal health. Leaders also need to consider their health in terms of intellectual curiosity, social connection, and emotional well-being. Individuals can only excel when they take on different perspectives and explore their personal interests outside of work. Furthermore, leaders need to have fulfilling and meaningful relationships with people both inside and outside of the office. Leaders can also allow stress to color their moods, so it is important that they check in with their emotions and find sources of optimism.
In addition, there is such as a thing as vocational health. Individuals need to find some sense of meaning in their work. This facet of health relates closely to spiritual well-being, or the alignment of personal purpose and values with everyday life.
Recognizing and Embracing the Need for Additional Self-Care
Certain clues can provide leaders with a sense of when they have let self-care slip. Learning about these signs can give individuals an indication that one of the facets of health is lacking before the issue results in burnout. One of the biggest signs that someone is in need of self-care is excessive self-management. Leaders understand that they must maintain a professional and competent image, so they sometimes will manage their emotions. While this is a natural impulse, it can become a problematic one when they begin repressing their emotions because they have to work so hard to keep up a game face. In this situation, employees may begin to see their leader as inauthentic, while this individual ends each day completely exhausted and on the edge of burnout.
Leaders may also be in need of self-care when they start to self-sabotage. Since self-sabotage looks different for each person, it is important for leaders to be aware of their personal patterns. Some people may start to procrastinate on important tasks while others may seek out distractions or ruminate on the same questions for an unproductive amount of time.
Supporting Employee Well-Being
Moreover, self-preservation can indicate a lack of self-care. Competitiveness within a company rarely yields productive results for an organization. In these situations, leaders need to think about why they are expending energy in unproductive ways and how they can refocus their attention.
In each of these situations, anxiety and fear take over and prevent leaders from connecting to themselves. When they find themselves in these situations, it is important for them to avoid judgment and instead seek out self-care. Everyone is vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed. Leaders need to set a good example by being gentle with themselves and making space for what they need to return to baseline. When they acknowledge this process, they can help to create a culture that emphasizes the importance of self-care and supports the well-being of employees.