Today’s workplace comes with a newer set of challenges than even three years ago. Just two years ago, the idea of global remote and hybrid work as the norm were just that—ideas. On top of a new digital workplace, add in increased calls-to-action for better and more transparent diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, and you’re having to abide by the highest ethical standards.
As leaders, you’re forging a new path for the future of work all while dealing with some of the same personal and societal issues your teams may face. The truth is, you are a human. And like most humans, you need downtime to become a better leader and a happier, healthier person. This is why self-care, especially for leaders who are creating new workplace frameworks, is imperative.
What is self-care, exactly?
The World Health Organization defines self-care as, “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
According to this definition, self-care includes everything related to staying physically healthy including hygiene, nutrition, and seeking medical care when needed. It’s all the steps an individual can take to manage stressors in his or her life and take care of his or her own health and well-being.
How can leaders practice better self-care?
As the world continues to influence the workplace, here are a few ways that you can become the best version of yourself—and by investing in your own well-being, inspire those around you to do the same in the process.
Physically Unplug and Refocus
"I hate running, but exercise takes some pressure off. Also, I don't have a television in the house or spend too much time watching the news," — Randall Tucker the Chief Inclusion Officer at Mastercard.
When you’re stuck in front of a screen all day, winding down with more screens may not be the most relaxing way to unplug and refocus. Adding this on top of remote work, it can be hard to remember to leave your space to get some fresh air.
Did you know that 20% of the oxygen you breathe in is used by your brain? Increasing the amount of fresh air you breathe can provide greater clarity to the brain, promoting optimal function while helping you to think, focus, and concentrate better. Before you delve into that next email, opt for a walk around the block or neighborhood instead.
By the time you come back, the email will still be there, but you’ll be more focused and ready to answer.
Build Breaks Into Your Schedule
"It's easy to type away for 24 hours, but I take time to step away from the computer and make time for myself," — Jessica Rice, the Global Head of DEI at Under Armour
When you’re a leader, particularly in an important field, it’s easy to always be “on.” But as much as your body needs movement and good foods to stay healthy, your mind needs a break sometimes too.
Put it in your calendar to make your mental breaks official. Start by identifying two 15-minute blocks every day, blocking off the time, and then choosing a new self-care activity to try out during each time block.
For particularly mind-bending tasks, allow yourself the flexibility to stand up, walk away, and give yourself some time to breathe and regroup regardless of whether this time is scheduled on your calendar. Remember, getting your mind in a place to do the work is part of the work and shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Recenter yourself before you head back into your spreadsheet to tackle the problem again.
Be Pragmatic and Practical
"It's all about managing inputs, and what you're taking in. What I do is remind myself that it's a marathon, not a sprint. We have this saying in DEI: 'Be patiently impatient.' Know that you have to do the work, but it's going to be something that happens over time. Even in a marathon, you have to stop to drink water, take vitamins, and take care of yourself along the way," — Ekpedeme “Pamay” M. Bassey the Chief Learning & Diversity Officer at Kraft Heinz.
When you reach the top, there’s a good chance you’re not only good at your job, but personally invested in it. However, one of the best things you can do is try to force yourself to be pragmatic and practical about tackling problems, and about how serious any problems really are.
Connect in Meaningful Ways
“Making time to connect with my team and mentors is an essential part of my role as an effective leader. The personal relationships that form while working together are such a significant and important part of life, but also an essential way for me to recharge my batteries and connect with the work I’m doing. It’s a win-win.” — Janice Omadeke, CEO at The Mentor Method
Try to remember that the work you do is important and meaningful. It’s more than just administration and planning, it’s about real people, and making real change in the workplace.
Balance is an essential skill for every effective leader. The Mentor Method platform is a chance for leaders to connect with their teams in new and purposeful ways without the pressure of adding another program to your to-do list. Schedule a demo today to learn more about how to offer meaningful reflection and relationships to your teams while alleviating your workload.