The importance of practising self-care as a business leader

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Adam Walker.



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The Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies and leaders alike to focus more on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. With people making more of an effort to keep themselves physically safe, mentally healthy, and emotionally sound, the way they view work has changed. This is something that many leaders and managers acknowledge but often, don’t know how to tackle. 

If you think you’ve been hearing more about self-care recently, you’re right. According to Google Trends, the number of searches for “self-care” has more than doubled over recent years. Self-care is taking steps to tend to your physical and emotional health needs to the best of your ability.

Though leaders in businesses may recognise it as important, it's not always treated with the priority it deserves, but often given lip service.  The idea of self-care for leaders comes inside a tricky paradox: Leaders often have the least amount of time available to devote to self-care and yet they are the people who often require self-care the most. 

Why leaders should be focusing on self-care

Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, increase happiness, and improve energy.

Leaders are people that others look up to and so they need to set an example for their team. Sometimes it also helps to show the team how they are handling their struggles and keeping their health in check, as this encourages others to seek help. It’s important to showcase a healthy, caring and positive attitude to self-care. By doing so, a leader shows their team that they are a ‘safe place’ to turn to in an hour of need. This has a positive impact on the business, as employees who feel psychologically safe in their work environment are generally more committed and productive at work. 

Besides being a great motivator, self-care also helps mitigate stress which is critical (though a little bit of short-term stress can add adrenalin and help pump up an individual for a critical meeting). Chronic stress can impact their cognition making it difficult to make clear-headed decisions.

As a leader, by practicing self-care, you're helping others see that they have permission to take care of themselves, too. Overall, self-care is a more difficult concept to practice for women, people of colour, and those who are LGBT+ because of pre-existing social constructs in the workplace.

The foundation of self-care is based on four key principles - nutrition; sleep hygiene; social support; and physical activity. So, here are a few ways leaders can add self-care into their everyday routines.

Practising self-care as a business leader

  • Starting the day slowly – Many leaders start their day by instantly getting started on work related tasks, especially on their phones or emails. However, this only adds to their mental load. Starting the day with some self-care instead, can set them up to have a more productive day. Having an established morning routine can help start each day with a positive attitude and feeling in control. This could include some exercise, writing in a journal, or even catching up on some light reading. Though it only takes a few minutes, starting the day slowly can help one feel ready to tackle whatever the day brings. 
  • Getting enough sleep - A lot of adults are sleep deprived without really realising the impact this can have. This issue can be increased tenfold with work stress adding to it as people climb the corporate ladder. For a business leader, it’s important to get enough sleep to ensure that they are at their best throughout the workday. When a leader is well rested, they are much more likely to be an asset to their team. A lack of sleep can also lower a person’s immunity to disease, reduce concentration and impact their quality of work. These are all things that should be avoided as a leader, which is why getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep is a key part of self-care.
  • Embracing wellness days - Being a leader doesn’t mean that one can’t have a wellness day or two, nor does it mean that one can’t use their allocated annual leave. With post-pandemic burnout at an all-time high, many companies are implementing wellness days and encouraging employees to make the most of having time off. Achieving a good work/life balance can make employees more productive and time away from work can help them to feel relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed. As a leader, one should be setting an example by showing others that it’s okay to take time away from work. Especially since it’s so easy for leaders to overwork themselves. Taking the time to relax, catching up with friends and family, or even, picking up a new hobby can assist leaders to take their minds off everyday work stress and allow them to return to the office rejuvenated.
  • Finding a healthy outlet – Leaders often allow their work to dominate their life. However, having interests and passions outside of work can be a source of positive energy, and can help leaders achieve a balance and recharge their batteries. Making time for hobbies and activities that are separate from work also allows them to live a well-rounded life, which is essential for mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Exercising, sports, or even having a creative hobby can become a healthy outlet for letting out all of the pent-up negative energy and stress. It can also show their team that having diverse interests and a life outside of work is encouraged.
  • Asking For Help - Sometimes, practising self-care by oneself can be difficult, especially if it’s not something that a person is overly familiar with. It can be hard to step away from work and focus on taking a break, rather than putting all your energy into running a successful business. Many leaders have a difficult time separating their work from their personal time and often allow the former to bleed into the latter. Therefore, a lot of leaders seek the help of a professional coach or wellness expert. It’s a fantastic way to get the expert advice that they need and to ensure that they are caring for themselves in every possible way.  An alternative could be talking to others in a similar position. 
  • Add the right fuel - Lastly, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and clarity of thought. You will have more energy and experience less fatigue and feelings of being tired and overwhelmed if you’re eating sensibly.

Practicing self-care is essential for leaders to stay at the top of their game and encourage their employees to do the same. If you would like to have a chat about integrating such practices into your team,  get in touch with us on 01582 450054 or info@RedlineExecutive.com.

Redline Executive’s mission is to enable high-technology companies to meet their strategic goals, in our search for leaders who will flourish in a time of exceptional change. 

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