The 10 Self-Care Practices Keeping Me Calm Right Now
When your workload gets busy, what’s the first thing to drop from your to-do list? If you’re anything like me, it’s yourself. We have a habit of making ourselves our last priority, shifting the focus to the obligations we made to others and neglecting the promises we made with ourselves. Yet, before we can give anything to our work or our clients, we need to fill up our own cup first. We deserve to feel good! When we feel good in ourselves, we have a better mindset and can perform at a higher level. The knock-on effects of good self-care are endless.
Social media has somewhat glamorised self-care in recent years, with extravagant routines and luxury products taking centre stage. If that works for you, great! I’ve learnt that it’s the simple self-care practices that mean the most to me. By making self-care a regular part of my routine I’ve found that I’m better prepared for when life gets busy (or when a pandemic suddenly takes over the world). These are the ten self-care practices keeping me calm right now.
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is undoubtedly the cheapest and most effective form of self-care but it’s also the most neglected. How many times have late-night work sessions hijacked your sleep schedule?
Lack of sleep can lead to brain fog, slowing down thought processes and affecting your memory. As business owners, we have a habit of staying up to work on our projects long after our families have gone to bed, only to wake up the next day feeling as though we never even went to bed.
I try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, sometimes it’s a little less but when I’ve had a late night I really notice the effects the following day. I’ll take longer to complete my tasks, my attention span will constantly be wandering and my productivity levels will be way down. So, strangely enough, getting more sleep has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business!
2. Find a morning routine that works for you
I’ve always loved the idea of a good morning routine that sets you up for the day but have often found the morning routines listed online overly-complicated and unattainable. Instead, I like to keep my morning routine pretty minimal.
I call it my self-cultivation time. I’ll take my morning cup of coffee out onto my balcony and spend some time writing in my gratitude journal before going through my tasks for the day to prioritise what needs to get done and what would be nice to get done. Once the day begins, it’s easy for time to run away from you. I find that this process allows me to be intentional in how I’m using those precious hours.
This is also my time to read through any interesting articles, work-related or otherwise, watch and listen to some of my favourite podcasts and TED Talks.
3. Set realistic goals
If there’s one thing that’s bound to make you feel demotivated and struggling to get going, it’s chasing goals that you never end up fulfilling. Whilst dreaming big is certainly important (it’s something I encourage all my coaching clients to do), it’s even more important to set goals that empower rather than disempower you.
Your goals are designed to help you live your dreams. They need to be incremental and break down the process for you, so that you can have that wonderful sense of achievement each time you reach them. Then, you set your next set of goals and move another step closer to those dreams.
I always make sure that the goals I set are realistic and that they don’t put me off actually achieving them. A SMART goal approach can be a great way to get started.
4. Allow yourself to rest
Nobody can be ‘on’ all the time. When you’re a business owner it’s up to you to set your own vacation time and sign that permission slip to close down the office for a week or two. One of my favourite things to do is plan my next holiday, which always involves lots of relaxation, good food, plenty of time to read (preferably near some water) and absolutely no work.
Over the years I’ve found that if I give myself the permission to take breaks and rest if I need to, I work not only harder but better. I’m able to show up for my clients as the best version of myself and give them the level of service they deserve, whilst taking care of myself too.
5. Set boundaries around your work
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve spoken with someone who started their own business to have more freedom in their life, only to find themselves working all the hours with no end in sight… Well, let’s just say I’d be living in a pretty big house!
The key to preventing business overwhelm? Boundaries. Set boundaries around your work, both when you do it and who you do it with. I’ve noticed such an improvement in my general wellbeing just by making a conscious effort not to work in the evenings or at weekends.
6. Be present with the people you love
Thanks to those all-important boundaries, I’m able to be fully present with the people I love and have a personal life whilst running my business!
I set up by business for two core reasons – to serve my clients and to be able to spend more time with my family and friends. Since I’m now really intentional with how I use my time when I am working, I’m able to fully switch off and relax when I’m not working meaning that I can soak up every second of those special family moments.
7. Drink lots of water, every day
This is such a simple self-care practise but is undoubtedly one of my favourites. Maintaining a good level of hydration can help you with focus, attention levels and general health and wellbeing. It’ll also provide a gentle nudge to get up from your desk every once in a while, move around and refill your water bottle.
8. Eat well
I feel better in myself when I feel good in my body, which means eating well and maintaining a consistent level of energy. Each morning, I start my day with a fresh juice and a mug of hot water with lemon and honey. I then follow an intermittent fasting method and end my day with an early dinner of a balanced fresh place of food with lots of veggies. Except for weekends, where I like to relax a little!
I find this approach helps support my energy levels, meaning I can keep going throughout the day and be just as alert on an evening call with a client overseas as I can when working locally here in Brunei.
9. Keep moving
Exercise. It’s my love and my nemesis! A good exercise routine can help to release stress, boost endorphins, improve sleep quality and help grow your confidence. Though, as I know from my own experience, it can also be incredibly tricky to stick to!
This is where it helps to know yourself well and recognise how you can hold yourself accountable. For some of you, that might mean booking onto a gym class with a friend. For others, it might look like scheduling it into your diary and making that promise to yourself. Either way, the aim here is always progress over perfection.
10. Ask for help when you need it
As entrepreneurs, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that we have to build everything on our own. There’s a common misconception that, if we ask for outside help, we’re cheating. As though accepting support will make us less worthy or make our achievements less valid.
That’s simply not the case.
You’re still going to have just as much pride in your achievements if you had support along the way than if you went it alone. In fact, it’s a smarter approach. You’ll probably get there much more quickly, efficiently and effectively!
Start building those new habits and Get Up and Go towards your dreams. My free ebook is here to guide you through the process (it also covers some of my favourite places to find support too!)