For leaders who are serious about having the impact they want to on the world, self care is a priority that’s not to be ignored. I don’t just mean leaders in the ‘traditional’ sense – CEOs, politicians, founders. If you want to set a great example to your kids; be a force for change in your team, organization or small business or simply feel proud to set your own course in life, this needs to be at the top of the list.
Self care and soft power
Soft Power is the term we use at One of many to encompass a whole range of principles and behaviours, which together form a new paradigm of female leadership.
Top of the list?
Soft Power principle #1: First, replenish yourself.
It’s the mantra our team repeat to ourselves when things get hectic; it’s what our coaches teach their clients; it’s what the leaders in our programs support each other to do, time and again.
And yet, something funny happens when we start to understand the importance of taking good care of ourselves. If you’re not careful, you can begin to notice some unhelpful behaviours creeping in…
3 reasons self care can slip down the list
1. Perfectionism creeps in
You don’t have the full hour you wanted to go to that yoga class… so instead you stay slumped on the sofa, scrolling through your phone.
The heavens open right before your grand hike in the countryside – may as well catch up on some work emails instead, right?
Or you commit to sessions at the local pool, since swimming’s the one place you can clear your head, only you need a new costume. And nothing fits. So that time to yourself slips quietly off the calendar, never to return…
Part of our challenges around self care can often come when we imagine a “perfect” scenario for what that self care will look like. Uninterrupted quiet, a partner who’s thrilled to give us time to ourselves, a world that runs smoothly and on time. It doesn’t exist, right?
- Are you letting perfectionism get in the way of doing any kind of self care at all?
- How could you consciously choose to lower the bar and make “good enough” self care better than none at all?
2. Superwoman takes over
Superwoman is the archetype of our times. She’s the high achieving, always-on, success-at-all-costs woman who to put it bluntly, is on a fast track to burnout.
Sometimes, she shows up in our self care with a focus on competition and “success”.
Never mind going for a walk – she wants to sign up for a marathon, and set a ridiculous sponsorship goal while she’s at it. If you’re thinking of eating a bit more healthily, she’ll be the voice in your head telling you nothing but a 3-month juice fast will do. And so on…
Take a moment to think about how you’re taking care of yourself. Is it in ways that feel delicious, restorative and precious to you? Or has Superwoman snuck in and slipped on your cape?
- Try brainstorming a quick list of 5 minute ways to practice self care. Deep breathing, a mindful cup of tea, a stretch, a silly text to a friend… what would fill you up?
- Set three alarms throughout the day, and pick one from the list. Setting micro-goals like this can help disrupt Superwoman, and start building the habit you need.
3. Life takes over
Probably the most common reason we find ourselves in bad habits when it comes to self care is a very prosaic one. Life just… happens. We make good resolutions, create time, feel great. Then there’s a work crisis, a family drama, or you get super excited about a new project – and before you know it, the calendar fills up.
We all move through cycles and seasons of busyness and activity in our lives.
Don’t beat yourself up, if you’re noticing that things have slipped slightly.
Do take the opportunity to check in with yourself, and take action if you need to.
Hold yourself accountable, and schedule in self care like the priority it is.
Use those around you to support you: Tell a colleague you’re going out at lunch; join a class or book in for a massage.
The overlooked side of self care
One thing it’s important to remember is that self care doesn’t always look like those stereotypical images of long baths or massages.
- Sometimes, self care might mean getting training in an area of life that’s making you anxious, whether it’s your relationship or your finances.
- It’s asking for help from your boss when you’re sinking under your schedule; not checking email when you’ve finished work.
- Saying no, even when it’s met with resistance.
Self care is fundamentally taking care of you – and other people won’t always be happy with that. Managing their reactions, and holding fast to your own priorities, is an art that leaders must cultivate.
You might have heard me talk about self care from the perspective of the Lover PowerType – this beautiful, magnetic, sensual aspect of female leadership.
And it’s true; self care can mean gorgeous robes, spa days and walks in nature; it arises spontaneously when we’re deeply connected to our love for ourselves and our own needs.
But self care is just as applicable when we’re accessing our “Queen” PowerType – decisive, strategic and making the best decisions for her “realm”.
After all, for a Queen to be Queen and leading her realm, she has to prioritize self care.
You can’t have a burnt out, overwhelmed, knackered Queen.
So what does she require her realm to do? Get her the best doctors, chiropractors, nurses and dentists – the best possible care in the realm – to look after her.
She has to accept that as part of her duty, if she’s going to be able to be the figurehead she needs to be.
Every leader needs to take self care seriously
Need a hand setting boundaries?
If you could do with some support to create effective boundaries without feeling like you’re letting people down, take a look at Enough is Enough.
It’s our free guide to creating unshakeable boundaries with grace, and you can download it right now by clicking here.
How are you doing… really?
Let’s have a quick check in, ladies – how are things with you right now? Flat out and flailing, achieving what you need to with grace, or somewhere in between?
Share in the comments, and leave a message of support for anyone who could do with a hand. We’re all in this together!
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