In the roller-coaster world of business, the role of a leader can be a double-edged sword. Leadership offers opportunities for influence, growth, and achievement, but it can also come with immense pressure and responsibility.
Its demands can even take a toll on your personal well-being, resulting in poor work-life balance and burnout. To better maintain equilibrium, implement these strategies and practices for self-care.
Recognize the value of self-care
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of equating self-care with selfishness. But prioritizing your health is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others. Healthy leaders are better equipped to make smart decisions, listen to the concerns of their employees, adapt to change, and help their teams navigate challenging situations. And by investing in and taking care of yourself, you are modeling healthy behavior for your team and fostering a culture of well-being.
Prioritize physical health
When you have a million things unchecked on your to-do list, it can be tempting to just grab a coffee, start working on the day’s agenda, and push through until it’s done. But part of self-care is eating a nutritious breakfast and taking a true lunch break to nourish your brain and body. After all, without proper fuel, you can only keep going for so long.
If your job entails sitting at a desk for long periods of time, exercise is even more important. Moving your body will support both your physical and mental health and ensure that you have enough energy and clarity to get you through the day. And it doesn’t have to be intensive. Find ways to carve out time, even just ten or fifteen minutes, for a walk, a yoga session, or a simple workout in the gym
Finally, prioritize getting good sleep to prevent the mental fog and physical fatigue that come with exhaustion. Try to end screen time an hour or two before you go to bed to avoid the effects of doomscrolling and blue light, both of which can affect your ability to sleep.
Cultivate hobbies and interests
When you are struggling to come up with a solution to a work conundrum, sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from it and engage in a recreational pursuit. Besides allowing you to decompress, this will give you an opportunity to use your brain in a different way, which can either send you back to the problem with a refreshed perspective or directly inspire the answer you’ve been searching for. Having non-work-related interests also prevents you from forging an identity that’s entirely wrapped up in your profession, and sometimes the skills and insights accrued through these hobbies, such as teamwork on the basketball court, can be transferred back to your role in a way that enhances your leadership abilities.
Nurture emotional intelligence
This skill isn’t talked about enough in the business sphere, but it’s a critical one for leaders to have. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are able to understand and manage their own emotions, enabling them to empathize with their employees’ needs and perspectives and become more effective at collaborating, resolving conflict, creating unity, and fostering trust. They’re also more equipped to promote inclusivity and diversity within their teams, valuing their employees for the unique contributions they bring to the table rather than expecting everyone to fit into the same mold.
The best way to improve your emotional intelligence is to learn to identify your emotions and how they impact your actions. When you’re stressed, what emotions tend to bubble up? Consider asking others for feedback on how you react in challenging situations. Does their perspective align with your self-perception, or do you need to be more honest with yourself? The better you can recognize how you’re feeling, the easier it will be to pause before reacting, lead calmly and effectively, and promote a culture of empathy within your team.
Invest in personal development
Being a good leader requires acknowledging that you don’t know everything. Continuous learning through avenues such as workshops, conferences, and seminars can give you additional tools and insights for upgrading your own company strategies. As a bonus, it can also prevent you from getting stuck in a rut of doing things the same way; listening to other voices regularly will keep your mind open to new ideas and serve as a reminder that pivoting is always an option. Additionally, by seeking to improve yourself, you’ll be a role model for your team, inspiring them to pursue their own personal development.
There are only so many hours in a day, and if you put all your time and energy toward operational tasks, you won’t have the brainpower left to focus on your long-term vision. Part of self-care as a leader is learning to use your resources efficiently. This involves leveraging the strengths of the individuals on your team to ensure each person is contributing to the best of their abilities, which will both free you up to focus on the big company decisions and convey to your employees that you trust them to do their part. In turn, they can level up their skill sets, take on more responsibility, and feel a sense of ownership over specific projects.
Foster meaningful connections
If you never show the real you, it will be challenging to build the rapport that is necessary for a healthy team. Operate with openness and curiosity, and encourage the same from your employees. Learning how they think, what inspires them, and how they feel most fulfilled and respected will create a constructive feedback loop, catapulting your company to new heights and preventing the dreaded echo chamber that stagnates businesses.
Prioritizing self-care is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself and your business. By utilizing these strategies, you can boost your own effectiveness while also creating an environment of openness, respect, and reciprocity.
Evaluate what self-care strategies would help you refresh and develop as a leader.