Life has been a little crazy lately. Maybe it was that Super-Blue-Blood-Moon a couple weeks ago? More likely, it’s running 4 businesses and raising 2 wild boys with 1 wonderful husband. But things have seemed crazier than usual, which means it’s time to turn up the self care game and share my big self care list for professional women. That’s in italics to let you know this Is. Very. Serious.
I turn 40 this month, and it has taken me almost this long to understand how important it is to take care of myself so that I can keep it all running (and not at the expense of my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well being). I’m not perfect when it comes to self care, but I’ve improved a lot the past couple years. Maybe it’s
age wisdom finally kicking in, but I just can’t seem to get through the day being bad to myself like I used to.
For example (maybe you’ll see yourself in these?), I used to put off going pee until I got through ‘one more call’ or cut down on my inbox. How horrible is that?? I have skipped meals, mindlessly eaten while standing at my desk, mindlessly eaten while standing over someone else’s desk, and many times have eaten in my car between meetings. I have scheduled my day back-to-back-to-back for 8+ hours (take it from me, this is a great way to make yourself sick).
Before my older son had surgery for a brain tumor, I routinely worked through the afternoons and into the wee hours of the morning, taking breaks only to feed him, put on another Baby Einstein, or change his diaper. Mother of the Year… In 2009, my household collectively brought in under $10,000. Between the recession and a miscarriage, things were not good. It fills me with guilt now, but at the time, I thought that working long hours when we were broke was the best way to take care of my son and take some of the pressure off of my husband. It took being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis later that year to finally give in. This. Was. Not. Working.
Fast forward to today, and I can also confidently tell you that self care is also crucial if you want a sucessful personal brand and to be a business leader – you must live the way you lead – that means practicing what you preach. If you’re an author, a coach, or a consultant worth your salt, there is no way you’re encouraging your clients and audience to treat themselves this way or glaorizing that kind of lifestyle. You have to be kind to yourself, too.
Why? Prioritizing your self care means that you’re ensuring your own capacity to remain healthy, engaged, and creative. And let’s face it, people learn more from watching what you do than what you tell them to do. If you have a team of people or a social media audience following you, you’re going to teach them a lot more about staying healthy by actually doing it yourself. But, if you’ve read this far, I would bet money you’re not being so good to yourself at least part of the time behind the scenes (eh. being stretched too thin is kind of the human condition – but you can change it!).
It’s time to eat your own dog food, friend (and not mindlessly over someone else’s desk). You are responsible to stakeholders- the ones at the office, the ones who follow you on social media, and the ones you see around the dinner table. And to keep up the pace, you occassionally have to come first.
I used to think of self care as getting my nails done or taking the afternoon off. At the time, that was the best I could come up with. But I’ve come to realize it’s so much more. My definition has expanded to anything that makes me feel good and gets me back to center. It could be quick-payoff, like getting my nails done. It could be an in-the-future-payoff, like going for my annual check up, or working out tonight after a hella long day even when I don’t feel like it.
One of the big challenges to self care is knowing what to do for yourself, especially when things start to go wrong and you can’t think straight. You can’t always say f*ck it and walk out of the office and straight to the spa. Luckily, though, there are lots of ways you can take care of your self when the going gets tough – big ways, small ways, luxurious ways, simple ways, full-day ways, and meditate-for-2-minutes-in-the-car-between-meetings-so-you-don’t-kill-someone ways.
So, here’s my big self care list for professional women (see, it needs to be in italics, it IS important). I also asked for input from my friends on Facebook, check those out, too!
- Run a diffuser of oils – I’m a fan of Young Living Purification and Peace + Calming
- Meditate – I know it can be tough, especially if you run high strung like me. I started by listening to music since it gives me something to focus on while clearing my mind. I love the Gone Girl soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (sounds counterintuitive if you’ve seen the movie, or know Nine Inch Nails, but try Sugar Storm and Appearances)
- Mediate Part Deux – check out an app called Insight Timer, a library of instrumental and guided meditations
- Go to therapy
- Try yoga
- Get up and stretch
- Play with your kids
- Play with your dog
- Plant your feet in the grass
- Feel the sunshine on your face
- Breathe deeply
- Enjoy a spa day or just get your nails done
- Make a cup of tea [list continued below]
- Hannah shared that eating healthy and journaling are self care go-tos
- Kathryn (my wonderful mom-in-law) enjoys good ‘ol Mother Nature
- Carla says to know when to say “No.” – why is that so hard? As a people pleaser, this one resonated for me
- Perri shared a whole list, she’s got this self care thing under control:
- Laundry service
- Romance novels
- A walk in the park
- Alone time
- Karen also shared a list:
- Winter trip to the beach (yessss!)
- Taking care of her skin and getting her hair colored
And a few more from me:
- Watch Oprah (I’m telling you, her Goddess-like energy will bring you back to life)
- Organize my desk – seriously, when I’m procrastinating or feeling stressed out, decluttering my workspace is like hitting the reset button
- Fro Yo – I’ve gone to great lengths not to include food as a reward on this list, but dayum, half a cup of lowfat frozen yogurt and some fruit can change my outlook
- Take a drive and listen to good music
- Ask for help
Those are just a few ideas. If this seems silly or frivolous, you still don’t get it. When my life is getting crazy and I go into fight mode, I pursue self care with intensity. It’s Step One, and then everything else comes after that. It’s how I avoid getting sick a lot of the times, it’s how I keep my battle with anxiety and an autoimmune disorder in check, and overall it’s how I live a more fulfilling life. And, when you get really good at it, you’ll make time for self care proactively – before life gets crazy.
As you can see, there are so many things you can do to take care of yourself. Self care doesn’t have to be scheduled, expensive or time consuming. Be aware of when you need it and then give it to yourself wholeheartedly – you deserve it.
And, if you actually read to the end you win a prize, send me a message through our contact page 😉 While you’re at it, let me know what you would add to this list!