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Self-care for Professionals

How much help are we to our business if we are sick, tired and stressed because we haven’t made time for self-care?

Active ImageThe answer is obvious, but Sally Bruce suggests healthy lifestyle choices aren’t always apparent, and people often do the opposite and make things much worse.

If we are to run our businesses with skill, pizzazz and joy, we can’t let our energy be constantly depleted through a chronic lack of self-care. We owe it to ourselves, our work and families to prioritise our own healthy lifestyle.

When we’re on form, life is a joy, work is easy and opportunities seem to flow. How good it feels to be buzzing with energy and health. We achieve this state through consistently making healthy lifestyle choices and prioritising our own needs, and consciously making time to nurture all the aspects of who we are.

But do you ever feel you are ‘stealing’ time? When the pressure’s on, it’s easy to feel that there’s not enough time to meet deadlines for important things like work projects. So you make more time by stealing time from activities that support and nurture yourself.

Ever skimped on preparing and eating nutritious meals, missed your exercise class, slept less, neglected your favourite hobby or cut down on the time you spend alone with your own thoughts or with loved ones, in order to do something that was ‘more important’?

As business owners, we juggle many different projects and activities. With no boss looking over our shoulder, we manage our own workload and time. We usually have greater flexibility about when and how we work. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how we use it. We can let work become our entire focus or embrace the opportunity for the wonderful work–life balance we thought we’d embrace when we first decided to go it alone.

Instead of stealing time from self-nurture activities, we should actively be scheduling them into our plans, and giving them at least the same importance as allocated work time. We are all physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. What do you do to ensure that you are looking after all the parts that make you whole?

Self-care examples:

Physical: exercise (be specific, for example gym, walking, dance class, swimming), choosing fresh healthy food, drinking lots of water, getting a massage.

Mental: taking a course, doing a cryptic crossword or numbers puzzle, reading something not work-related, ‘positive thinking’, enjoying a hobby.

Emotional: keeping a journal, phoning an old friend, spending quality time with loved ones and family members, looking through an old photo album.

Spiritual: attending church, mosque, temple or other religious activity, or meditation and time alone.

Try making a list of activities you love to do, or would love to do if only you had the time. But don’t intellectualise this exercise, just scribble down anything that pops into your head. Listen to your instinct. You might be surprised by what you hear.

Make the commitment to include activities from each area into your schedule, then allocate time in your diary or planner to do them.

The times we’re overly busy and stressed are when self-care is most important, yet it’s these times when we are most likely to ignore our own needs. So the next time you find yourself stealing time from ‘less important’ self-nurture activities, ask yourself: do I really not have enough time or is it that I don’t value myself highly enough to make self-care a priority?

* Sally Bruce contributes to the online magazine for solo business owners, http://www.flyingsolo.com.au

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