More and more women are approaching me to find out more about building a business of their own. With that comes conversations about dealing with unusual hours (e.g. writing a blog at 520am!). Or the time pressures we set ourselves to achieve our goals. Not to mention the limited time for seeing actual people and the feast and famine approach to receiving income. Finally, we might talk about fear – fear of failure, fear of not being good enough and fear of success.
Prioritising your self-care as a businesswoman is integral to your success. Why? Because it helps you feel healthy, relaxed and able to tackle your work and responsibilities. But how many of you are actually balancing the stresses of running your own business with adequate and regular self-care?
How self-care helps you as a business owner
Whether you have just started out or you have been going a while, you have probably come across the phrase ‘hustle’ i.e. you have to work hard to get results. We celebrate being busy as something to be heralded and we reward those who go without sleep, breaks or time to refill our cups. This is a problem because it’s unachievable and it’s unrealistic. We simply cannot forego our basic human needs and expect it to all be ok. At some point, if you are subscribing to the hustle – you’re gonna break.
By practising self-care and incorporating it into your business strategy you do the following things:
Reduce your stress levels
Whilst stress is a normal physical and emotional response to a threatening or overwhelming task/situation, it can have major consequences if not managed properly. Especially as an entrepreneur, stress is going to play a role in your life, so learning how to deal with it is very important. Self-care activates the body’s relaxation response, reducing cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body, which in turn reduces your stress levels.
Try: Noticing when you feel overwhelmed, moody or more tired than usual. There are many warning signs and symptoms of stress. Take a few simple deep breaths (in for 7 counts, out for 11 counts) and instantly create a moment of calm so you can decide what to do next.
Improve your clarity and creativity
When you are feeling calmer your mind is more clear. Thoughts may come and go (that’s OK AND normal) but you can allow that to happen. As your mind clears it allows inspiration and creativity in.
Try: Being present. Whether you choose a meditation or you focus on an object or you get outside you stop multitasking and create a calm space to get yourself organised and be successful in what you are trying to achieve. Focus on one task and when you have finished, move on to the next.
Boost your productivity
It might seem counter-intuitive that taking a break saves you time/increases your output, however, so much research supports the idea that taking breaks and practising self-care actually improves productivity. Even when (you think) you are too busy to take a break.
Try: The Pomodoro Technique: Setting a timer for 52 minutes (max) and then taking at least 17 minutes away from your computer to do something else. Get some food, practice some stretches, meditations, or go for a walk.
How to build self-care into your strategy
Plan it into your schedule
Let’s face it, not many of us suddenly have lots of time to indulge in looking after ourselves, so make self-care a regular part of your routine. I don’t mean add it to your to do list…I mean actually put it into your calendar. Preferably with some kind of reminder. When we schedule something it’s more likely to be completed. By planning in your self-care like you would any other business appointment you do two things: a) make your brain aware it needs to be completed and b) set your boundaries. It also helps if you are someone who finds it hard to just say no..you can genuinely say you have another appointment booked in.
Try: Schedule little breaks of self-care during the day. 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, a 15-minute tea break, 20 minutes of reading before bed etc. This allows for regular stress release throughout the day.
Make it easy
Instead of waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration when you need it (and can’t think for feeling overwhelmed) create a list of your favourite self-care activities. Choose a variety of short, medium, and long activities, which you can choose depending on how long you have on a given day. No inspiration now? Try these:
Set your boundaries
Are you proud of being busy? Relishing in achieving your to do list? I used to be (and sometimes still am) like that. Busyness is so addictive. Who needs sleep anyway right?! But rather than wishing for more time, overburdening yourself with tasks, and stressing yourself out, consider setting your boundaries and start saying no more often.
Try: Writing a list of things you will NOT be doing this week. This works really well if you do it at the same time as looking over your goals and write your to-do list. Perhaps you will practice not saying yes to every opportunity, and say no to things that drain you.
Prioritise your worth
I have talked a lot about the daily approach to self-care but it is also important to allow for one BIGGER self-care indulgence each week. This is about prioritizing yourself, your worth, and your needs.
Try: Getting a beauty treatment, going for a long walk, a lunch with your best friend, turning off your phone or perhaps even an afternoon off…you are the boss so you get to choose!