I know “self care” has gotten a lot of attention in 2020, and with good reason. But the truth is even though most of us know that it’s important, we aren’t actually following through in doing it. Studies are finding that people are once again reaching the point of burn out and fatigue.
We’re mentally and emotionally exhausted from all that this year has thrown at us. Even those of you who have done a great job at pivoting with each new curveball are likely to be having a few “down days” from time to time. This has been a year full of uncertainty and as people, we can only take so much before it starts to get to you a little. It may just be a moment here or there or it may be something you’ve been struggling with for weeks.
And as a business owner, manager or leader, it’s not just about you, it’s about your team as well. Regardless of if your team is working remotely or still in person, you probably have people that are struggling this year. So, what’s a leader supposed to do?
Focus on your self care
You’ve probably heard the example before of the oxygen masks on an airplane. If not, here’s a quick recap. When you fly on an airplane, the stewardess gives you a rundown on what to do if the plane has problems and the oxygen masks drop down. You always put on your own mask before helping those around you. Even if you’re a parent flying with your children, you’re supposed to put your mask on first. Why?
If you try to put your children’s masks on without putting your own on, you could be endangering yourself. If you don’t have enough oxygen and pass out, your kids are in trouble too. But if you quickly put on your own mask, you have the oxygen you need so you can help others too.
The same is true with self care.
Good leaders want to make sure their team has everything they need to succeed. During times like 2020, where it seems to be one thing after another, it can be easy for things to get off balance. As you work on trying to care for your team and others around you, you may be neglecting your own needs. If this goes on for too long, it can take a negative toll on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Develop a self care routine
The best way to overcome this is to create a routine that helps you focus on self-care. If you’ve heard the term “self-care” thrown around but aren’t really sure what it is, it’s simply doing the things that help you take care of yourself. Here’s a few examples:
- Exercise. If you’ve been following along on the YouTube channel, you know that SPEARity’s CEO, Darren Fisher, is training to compete in an Ironman competition. Study after study has found the benefit that exercise has on mental health and emotional wellness. Besides all the benefits that we already know exercise does for our physical bodies, working out can help boost your mood and your immune system (both of which are things we can all use this year).
- Learn better time management and set boundaries. If you lack time management skills, you may struggle with feeling burnt out from time to time. It’s important to learn how to properly plan your time and this includes building time off of work into your planner. If you struggle with saying “no” to opportunities or struggle with adding more to your to-do list than can actually be accomplished in a day, this is an area you should focus on. (And you may want to check out the SPEARity app which is designed to help you move forward towards your goal without overcommitting your day.)
- Get enough sleep. You may feel like you can succeed on four hours of sleep a night, but that’s not likely to be true. Adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Plan an evening routine and morning routine to help you create a successful sleep schedule.
- Eat the right foods. When you’re busy, it’s easy to run through the drive-thru, hit a vending machine or make other poor food choices. It may feel like you can get away with these poor choices, but if you do this long enough it’s going to catch up with you. Your body needs the right nourishment to operate at its highest level.
- Participate in hobbies you enjoy. Work shouldn’t be the only thing on your schedule. If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, it can be difficult to turn it off for the day and switch to your personal life. This has become even more difficult in 2020 with many people working from home. Make sure you plan time to do the things that you enjoy. If you can’t remember what these things are anymore, start trying things until you find a new hobby that helps to rejuvenate you.
Encourage your team to develop a self care routine
Showing your team that you care about them as people and not just employees can go a long way in building trust. Remember that each of your employees is dealing with their own unique set of challenges this year. You may have employees with children that are doing school from home. This adds a new stressor to their lives as they adjust to helping their children with work while also working remotely. Or, it may be that your team isn’t working remotely so now your employee is stuck trying to figure out childcare during “school days” so they can keep their job.
You may have employees that live with people that are high-risk for becoming ill. They may worry every day about how to balance doing the things they need to do while still protecting their loved ones.
Mental health and wellness are at all-time lows this year as many people are struggling with anxiety and depression. As a leader, you can help set an example for your team and you can encourage them to take care of themselves—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Encourage them to take care of themselves. Encourage them to take their lunch breaks (even if working from home) and vacation time if they have it. And encourage them to communicate with you about any of the unique needs that they’re facing this year.
Provide your team with mental health and wellness resources
Here are a few ways that you can help your team:
- Provide them with details on what type of mental health services are available to them through your employer healthcare plan.
- Share a list of free self-care or mental health resources that they can access if they’re interested. If you send this through email it allows people to take advantage of it without anyone knowing. You can share access to this online list of free resources and tips.
- If you find YouTube videos or podcasts with good tips on taking care of yourself through this year, share them with your team.
Helping your team work more efficiently while building confidence is also a great way to help keep them happy and emotionally well. A breakdown in communication, poor time management, and lack of confidence will only add to the trials of this year. If you’re team could use leadership development training or coaching, explore your options with a SPEARity business coach today.