5 Self-Care Tips for Leaders

The notion of self-care is one that many leaders resist because of feeling pressured to meet company goals every day.

The problem is, driving yourself too hard on an ongoing basis is unsustainable, which often leads to burnout.

Of course, the need for self-care is more important while everyone is under extra stress, which we all are, so it makes even more sense to establish a realistic self-care routine (if you have not done so already!). Not only will you feel better and be more productive, but you’ll also help model self-care to your team.

The idea of self-care for leaders comes inside a tricky paradox: Leaders have the least amount of time available to devote to self-care and yet, they are the people who require self-care the most.

These tips will help you get started!

#1 – Rest and Relaxation

Sleep and feeling rested can be fleeting when we’re under stress. If we’re working long hours and juggling home and work, it can seem like there is no time to rest. But if we work to consciously fit in downtime around our responsibilities, we can actually make inroads to what seems an insurmountable task.

For instance, did you know that meditating can have the same effect as getting a few hours sleep or power napping? Using mediation as a stop gap to help you calm during the day and get prepared for sleep is a great tool to help you decompress.

Much has been written about ensuring you have a sleep routine. And I think it’s wise to do so because the body and mind will begin to look forward to relaxing as you get ready to wind down. It goes without saying that staying off devices of all kinds is also important to allow your mind to stop being overwhelmed. You also need to relax your muscles in order to de-stress your body.

#2 – Moving Your Body

Like sleep, exercise is another pillar of self-care for leaders and what I often see is that time tends to get in the way with this one, too.

Again, I think it’s critically important to create routines around exercise. Turning it into a habit makes it more likely that you will stick with it and more likely to supply the benefits you are looking for.

To give yourself the best chance of success, start small and take slow, deliberate steps to achieve your ultimate fitness goals. It’s not about having the perfect body, being able to lift a certain amount of weight or run a mile at a certain pace. Rather, it’s about making your physical health a priority. When you do, you’ll have more sustained energy and focus throughout the day.

#3 – Eat Well with Better Fuel

You already know the types of food that may harm you body and mind. We often reach for the easiest fuel in the form of fast-foods, processed foods and drinks because we’re busy and just want a “kick” to help us stay alert.

Unfortunately, over time, we will pay the price for making those choices, which typically will take the form of some kind of chronic health issue. Are all the long hours really worth it? 

I like to think of food as fuel for the machine known as the human body. When you give the machine unhealthy fuel, you suffer and your body sputters. But when you fill your tank with healthy whole foods and items that have been subject to a minimum of processing, you give the machine of your body an edge. And to be a high-performing leader, you need to be your best, and only you can make that happen.

#4 – Be Grateful Every Day

Practicing gratitude brings more positivity into your life. When you start your day being grateful and setting the intention that you will handle the day with ease, it really can change what happens.

It can be as easy as noticing the people in your life who lift you up, or the way your coffee smells as you your toast pops up. I love keeping a gratitude journal and I encourage you to do the same. Writing your thoughts, feelings and observations down helps center you and allows you to de-stress at the same time.

#5 – Learn to Say No

Here’s a little secret I wish more leaders were aware of: You don’t have to say “yes” to everything just because you are the leader and are in a position of influence.

One of the quickest ways to compromise your health is to bite off more than you can chew. It’s okay to say “no” to things and it’s healthy to have boundaries. Your leadership will be more consistent, energized and inspiring when you practice discernment. It’s hard to not say “yes” to everything, but I urge you to try it out and see what happens!

Self-care is part of the mindfulness and self-awareness pillars of Grounded Leadership.

Additionally, I encourage you to focus on what you really enjoy in life. Then spend some time doing those things. Don’t let your “busy work” take away from living your life to the fullest!

Do You Practice Self-Care?

Do you have any go-to self-care practices that work for you? Have you tried any of the tips I have listed here? I would love to know what you think, so please send an email to joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or call me at 1.855.871.3374 to share your thoughts.

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