Allowing For Self-Care Is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that sometimes we talk about workplace change, business practice and growth strategy. At other times, we consider foundational practices for well being. It is my belief that allowing for self care is key when you want to show up increasingly authentic and visible, clear and calm.

Last summer, we looked at You Can Optimize Business Productivity with Lessons Learned From Vacation.

I want to explore summer and vacation themes with you again. This time, it’s about the one thing you will want to take with you.

And it won’t cost you a thing. Or take up room in your suitcase.

Here’s my invitation to you:

Choose something from your vacation or summer days that give you the sense of feeling alive or centered. Try to replicate or approximate it in some way this week. With kind intention. With generosity.

Will you imagine, even for a moment, what that would be like?

I give you this challenge because most people I see massively shortchange themselves when it comes to engaging in self-care. In fact, many are surprised when I frame compassion in two ways: how it extends to others and how it extends to self.

Not taking care of self, it turns out, harms their sense of well-being and the bottom line. Costs them in sleep and clarity, effectiveness and income.

We, and I include myself here, take care of children, partners, parents, neighbors, community and strangers.

Yet many of us wait for permission (it never comes) or feel guilty (it can be interpreted as selfish) with even a speck of time set aside for our selves. Take it from me, it’s like a desert of scarcity when it comes to taking care our precious selves.

How do you know if you are experiencing a self-care deficit?

  • You are always “doing,” can’t or won’t slow down
  • You perpetually put off setting time for reflection, restoration, quiet
  • You are often on-edge or in a state of overwhelm
  • You think you “don’t deserve time for yourself”
  • Your own thoughts are muddy, inaccessible or unsatisfying
  • You are frequently short-tempered or critical with yourself and others

Do any of these clues describe how you approach taking care of yourself?

If so, you’re not alone. I’ve had people tell me their entire day, every day, is booked solid with activity. Others say they’ve come to understand being productive is not being alone, idle or even…quiet.

What are your assumptions about self-care?

Self-care can co-exist with being a hard worker, a good parent, an empowering leader.

That said, those of us who are in business for ourselves or others have had days, weeks or months when expectations or sheer volume of work spins out of our control. Fortunately, the long days of summer have something to teach us about balancing our attention and pace. You see, leaving no space for downtime is not sustainable in any healthy way. Other things start to break down, get lost or buried.

Important things. Like what and who matters to us. Heart-felt gratitude. And what it’s like to feel calm.

Often, in our striving and in our dutiful roles, we shut down self-care.

Rarely do we do the thing that I believe is most important.

Post a photo reminder to feel alive and at peace at your place of business.

Demonstrate devotion to self-care.

Slowing down may appear to be a distraction. It is, in fact, a pathway for our illumination.

Getting quiet may feel exposed or vulnerable, like a piece of skin being ripped open. Yet, with practice, it is also true that it feels safe, familiar, connected. Like being “home.”

Consider what it is about a summer moment or vacation that feels “like home.”

How was it when you taking care of you in this way?

How could you replicate or approximate it in your day-to-day?

Some ways might include (and are not limited to): Sit with a cup of tea. Dedicate times that are device-free. Read a book. Drift off in a hammock. Sing or dance. Cook a favorite meal or a create a piece of art. Pick up an instrument you’ve wanted to learn or plant you’d like to grow. Get a massage. Get out from behind your desk to walk or explore.

This is what helps root us.  What helps us connect better with others. It models for them that we are worth it.  Self care is so not a waste of anyone’s time.

So I ask you to get curious. And to be kind to you by allowing space for self-care.

Doing so will result in your becoming more effective, centered and fulfilled.

So this week, cultivate inner kindness by dipping your toe into self-care.

Cue in to what it’s like be on vacation or out on a summer’s day. Get intentional about re-purposing a highlight or two. I’ll do it too, tapping in to the immense patience and repetitive physical movement that fly fishing invited on our recent trip out west. It allowed me to be a beginner, to take my time, to make mistakes. I’ll be looking for ways to apply the lessons to my business and life.

What role does self-care play in your life now? What lesson in self-care will you begin to apply in your life? How can dipping in to self-care help your business to thrive?

Tell us in the comments below, Facebook or Twitter so we can all learn from each other.