Earthquakes, Russians and climate change… oh no! On top of our everyday stresses, it seems we’re now bombarded with scary news on a regular basis. And as an added bonus, it now looks as though Americans are the most stressed folks in the world, according to a recent Gallup poll.
It’s hard sometimes to stay grounded and positive in the face of that, but as entrepreneurs, our livelihood literally depends on our ability to create healthy coping practices.
One of the remedies suggested for dealing with our heightened case of global angst is actually one I’ve been passionate about for years, so much so that I’d say it’s become the foundation of my coaching practice. It’s what I call the notion of “Radical Self-Care”, cousin of “extreme self care”, a term I first heard in my coach training 20+ years ago.
Since then, the idea of self-care has definitely hit the mainstream business community. Forbes magazine extols its virtues, Inc. magazine offers tips, and the Harvard Business Review suggests ways to weave self-care into your work day.
But my favorite is the model that Steven Covey created in his 1989 business classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“. He describes his last principle – sharpening the saw – as “exercising all four dimensions of our nature [physical, mental, emotional & spiritual] regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways”. In Covey’s model, it is this habit that surrounds all the others because it is the one that makes all the other ones possible.
Anything but selfish, “self-care” is all about tending to your own very real and often-neglected needs on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What makes this radical is the fact that so few of us do it and in fact, we’re often taught to take care of everyone else first – family and clients alike. Unchecked, this tendency results in total burn out. And if that happens, business dries up, relationships crash and burn, and we’re no good for anyone.
Simple first steps
So, what can we do to restore a healthy mind/body/heart/spirit balance? Whether you’re preparing for an important business trip, scheduling a meeting with a prospective client, or getting ready for a big family gathering, you’ll want to be sure you’re operating on all cylinders.
So, right now, sit yourself down … in a cozy chair, sipping a cup of tea/hot chocolate/decaf, listening to your favorite music. Are you starting to get the idea?! Pull out the beautiful journal you’ve bought for the specific purpose of ruminating about and recording all the nurturing things you can do for yourself. (One of my clients calls it her “luscious notebook” but really a pad of paper or your iPad will do.)
Now, either in separate categories or free-form, begin a list of all the ways you love to nurture your body, stimulate your mind, sooth your heart and nourish your soul. Think simply – a daily walk, read poetry, floss. Think big – a trip to the spa, clean your closets, take a course. The idea is to create a vision of radical self care in all areas so that when you REALLY need a break and your brain is too fogged to function, you can pull out your list of ideas and grab on to one as a lifeline.
Care-full work habits
Perhaps the toughest place to remember to engage in self-care is in our work. If you love what you do, which is the case with many entrepreneurs, that doesn’t mean you have to be doing it 24/7. Why not be the model of radical self care in your own business, and create a positive example for everyone you come in contact with?
Here are a few simple ideas to play with…
- Get outside in the middle of the day – fresh air and vitamin D-laden sunshine does wonders for your concentration and productivity.
- Make sure you move around on a regular basis, even if it’s just a walk around the office or a few stretches.
- Keep a glass of water on your desk – too much caffeinated coffee, tea and sodas cause the body to lose water, which makes your brain less active and saps your energy
- Carve out periods of closed-door, no phone quiet time to meditate or just to breathe quietly… you’ll be surprise at what creative solutions can bubble up.
- Likewise, be sure to schedule meetings and lunches with people every day, especially if you operate out of a home office.
- Read/listen to a favorite book if you commute instead of something work-related.
- Craft a consciously care-full physical environment with innovative design concepts, non-toxic materials, and full-spectrum lighting, or even bring in a Feng Shui expert.
You may not be able to change the seeming craziness of the world right now, but maybe with a renewed commitment to your own self care, you can bring some peace to your own little corner of the universe.