The Western world glamorizes “hustle culture,” where individuals are celebrated for working hard 24/7 and monetizing their hobbies to make extra cash outside of work. This narrative is perpetuated by social media influencers who promote a lifestyle of luxury based on the premise that they worked hard for it. While this may be true in some cases, it suggests to consumers that they’re not worthy of rest, relaxation and practicing self-care unless they’ve earned it. This is simply not the case and overlooks the importance of self-care for leaders.
People who are tasked with managing groups or other individuals, whether at school (teachers, student leaders), work (project managers, supervisors) or home (parents, older siblings), must take time to look after themselves in order to show up as their best selves for others. Find out how to practice self-care in your daily life to become a better role model, leader and version of yourself.
Myths About Self-Care for Leaders
Self-care once had a reputation for being an eccentric practice that was overindulgent. However, it’s becoming more widely understood that self-care is a priority, not a luxury. Self-care for leaders is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. These common myths about self-care deserve to be busted so more people can enjoy a healthy, balanced lifestyle and prioritize their wellness.
Myth 1: Self-Care Is Expensive
A common misconception about self-care is that it requires resources that are expensive or inaccessible to many people. Self-care is portrayed in the media as pampering oneself, using beauty products, getting massages or attending costly therapy sessions. While these acts could be part of a self-care routine if they make you feel relaxed and refreshed, they aren’t the primary focus of self-care. Self-care, by definition, is simply the act of caring for yourself by practicing healthy behaviors. This means self-care is accessible to everyone and looks a bit different for each person based on what you and your body need.
Self-care is as simple as limiting screen time after 9 p.m., starting your day with a nutritious smoothie rather than a sugar-filled breakfast bar or taking time to meditate daily regardless of how busy your work schedule becomes. Self-care, at a basic level, is inexpensive and doesn’t require an initial start-up investment to incorporate into your life.
Myth 2: Self-Care Is Selfish
Many people have a perception of self-care as being selfish, and this makes them feel guilty about practicing healthy habits. Self-care is the opposite of selfish because when you care for yourself, you’re in a better position to be there for the people around you. You might have heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is the act of filling up your own metaphorical cup so you feel happy, healthy and capable of showing up for other people as your best self.
Myth 3: You Have to Earn It
Hustle culture promotes the idea that slowing down and prioritizing your wellness is a sign of weakness or laziness. This is simply not the case and can be counterproductive in the long term, especially for leaders in the workplace. According to one 2021 report, 52% of all workers are experiencing burnout. Leaders who prioritize their wellness and encourage this same behavior for employees can live a healthier, more balanced lifestyle that reduces the likelihood of burnout and stress.
The Consequences of Ignoring Self-Care
It’s essential to prioritize self-care as a leader because ignoring the needs of your mind and body can have a negative effect on your overall performance. The potential consequences of not practicing self-care regularly include:
- Low energy
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Physical symptoms of stress (body aches, muscle tension, stomachaches)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression may develop or worsen
Practicing self-care helps you de-stress and check in with your mind and body to ensure you’re making decisions that benefit your long-term health. Experiencing stress for a prolonged period, such as job-related stress, can increase your chances of developing and dying from heart disease. This is one of the many reasons prioritizing your self-care as a leader is critical to your overall well-being and longevity.
Tips for Incorporating Self-Care in Daily Life
Self-care for leaders requires you to practice healthy habits daily so they become part of your routine. Incorporating these practices into your life helps ensure you feel your best mentally and physically and that you’re capable of guiding and supporting others around you.
Finding time in your busy schedule to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes per day every day can make a big difference in how you feel, mentally and physically. People who exercise regularly have better overall physical health and lower rates of mental illness.
Self-care habits can be as simple as getting enough sleep each night. This can be challenging when you have a demanding work schedule, but ensuring you’re getting enough sleep can improve your workplace performance and mental health. According to the CDC, adults aged 18+ require a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night to maintain their mental and physical health.
Learning to say no is an important part of practicing self-care. Saying yes to please others can lead to burnout and anxiety. Put yourself first by saying no to commitments that don’t serve you or aren’t feasible with your schedule.
Choose Nutritious Foods
Fueling your body with healthy foods is a simple way to care for yourself daily. It starts with your grocery list and the kinds of meals you plan weekly. Focus on getting enough fruits and vegetables, protein and other foods per federal recommendations.
Make Time for Mental Health
Understanding that good mental health takes time and effort is, on its own, an act of self-care. Check in with yourself regularly to monitor your stress levels, and consider whether you need to talk to someone about concerns, stresses or problems in your life. Regular sessions with a registered therapist or neuro therapy sessions can help you build healthy habits for dealing with anxiety or depression before it becomes overwhelming.
Encourage Others to Practice These Tips
When you take care of yourself, you have the capacity to support other people around you and inspire them to make good decisions. As a leader and a role model, your mental health must be a priority. For more information about how to practice self-care and achieve peak performance through neuro therapy, contact Sun Health Center today.