Today we have an epic, inspiring post by Kerry Johnson, and it’s all about the importance of self-care, because let’s face it: we coaches can put off our own self care when we’re focusing on building our biz.
For many of us, our business is about putting others first; helping them to fulfill their needs and achieve their goals. There are few feelings better than knowing that you have helped another person in a huge way. But when this becomes the norm, when our own needs take a back seat, so to speak, how can we avoid the feeling of constant burnout?
The act of self-care is overlooked by many, and often considered to be a selfish and egotistical feat by those not ‘in the know’. In fact, it is a necessary part of life, and key to maintaining a healthy mental and emotional state. If you began to feel the onset of flu-like symptoms, you would probably stock up on an over the counter remedy and rest until you felt better. Yet when we feel overworked, emotionally drained and mentally burnt out, we are expected to ‘suck it up’ and continue with our everyday lives.
I started my first freelance business around ten years ago – coincidentally around the same time that the symptoms of my personality disorder began to really show. For me, the work was fulfilling, but also emotionally exhausting. I had a number of clients who can only be described as demanding and awkward. Not only was I learning the ropes where my new business was concerned, I was also trying to deal with the effects of a mental disorder that I didn’t fully understand. I devoted all of my time to making my clients happy and my own mental health was not a priority.
Like many coaches and entrepreneurs, I tried and failed at a number of business ideas over the years, but I am now confident that I have found my calling. And with the confidence of this realisation came the ability to make myself a priority, while maintaining a strong working relationship with clients. I have mastered a handful of self-care techniques and coping strategies that allow me to deal with the stress and anxiety of successfully fulfilling a client’s needs, while ensuring that I am on top form. I can now take a step back and concentrate on my own mental state, without feeling like I am falling behind schedule and letting clients down.
What Exactly is Self-Care?
Essentially, self-care is identifying your own needs, taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself with the same kindness that you would others. It is care provided for you, by you.
When we spend much of our time caring for others, and focusing on their needs, it can leave us feeling stressed out and run down. Self-care is treating yourself as a valuable, deserving person. Only when we help ourselves can we effectively help others. For example, if you are feeling completely exhausted and unable to focus thoroughly, you are not in the best shape to help your clients. By putting your own needs first, you will be much better prepared to help others.
Simple Coping Strategies & Self-Care Techniques
There are several simple ways to deal with business burnout and the associated feelings of stress and exhaustion. You must first learn to switch off and walk away from your work every once in a while. This is a lot easier said than done, particularly if you work from home and do not have set working hours. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get comfortable with taking time out. It is simply something that you must get used to over time.
When you’re ready to take some time for yourself, you can try some of the following things:
Make Time for Your Social Life
Try to forget about work for a while and talk to your friends. You could arrange to go for a coffee, or make a lunch date with someone you haven’t seen for a while. It could be something as simple as catching up with old friends online. But there is one catch – no mention of work during this time. Being connected to other people can invoke feelings of happiness and make you feel valued and confident in yourself. When you feel self-confidence, you will be more positive about your ability to help your clients.
Find a Hobby Unrelated to Your Work
If you already have a hobby, that’s great. You should take the time to nurture this. Doing something you enjoy will help you to feel relaxed and shift your mindset. I like to draw and, although this could relate to my business, I make sure to spend time working on projects completely unassociated. I have also recently taught myself to knit. Finally, I read each night before I go to bed, to help me unwind. These are very simple activities, but they help me to take time out and focus on things other than work.
Engage in Therapeutic Activities
You may already have certain activities that help you to feel relaxed. Perhaps you like to take a long bath, or spend time with your pet. Playing with my kitten, before she curls up for a nap, is one of my favourite things to do. When she climbs up to go to sleep, I instantly feel happy and relaxed.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can contribute incredibly to relaxation. If you have never tried meditation before, you can find guided meditation soundtracks online that will talk you through the process and leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Do you take the time to get outside? Ecotherapy is a collection of activities and treatment programmes that aim to improve health with outdoor experiences. Something as simple as taking a walk in the countryside, or sitting in the park, can drastically improve your mood.
Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health
Taking care of your physical health can greatly impact your mental health. In the famous words of Elle Woods, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” (I got a little off track there. There will be no shooting of husbands here – I hope.) My point is, physical exercise can make you feel great. It doesn’t have to be a hardcore gym session; even just a brisk walk can leave you feeling light and fresh.
You should take a look at your sleeping habits. Do you get enough sleep? I know it’s not always easy, especially if you have young children or a particularly busy schedule. Don’t be afraid to take a nap if you feel like you need it. If you can spare a couple of hours, and you’re feeling especially drained, get your head down for a while.
Finally, consider your eating habits. When your blood sugar levels drop, you can start to feel irritable and depressed. You should eat regularly to keep your sugar levels steady. Try to opt for healthy snacks throughout the day and eat at least three square meals each day. Don’t forget to keep yourself well hydrated. At least two pints of water a day will keep you sufficiently hydrated, but you should try to aim for more. I drink at least twice this amount, as it helps to keep headaches at bay when I’m sat in front of a computer screen all day.
Why is it Important to Take Time Out?
As I previously said, in order to effectively help others, we must first help ourselves. It is far too easy to become wrapped up in a problem that can affect our mood and, in turn, the way in which we work. I will occasionally come across a problem with a client that leaves me stressed out, anxious and emotionally exhausted. Having a personality disorder contributes to this for me, but it can also be the case for many people. I will often keep working at it, until I eventually burn out and want to give up. This is the moment I know it’s time to step away.
There are several reasons I know I must do this. If I continue to wear myself down, I will not be able to work to the best of my ability. A problem with one client can unintentionally transfer to my work with another. Have you ever felt so worn down that you just can’t concentrate on the task at hand? This could be the end result if you do not take the necessary time to properly care for yourself.
Kerry Johnson is a Business & Branding Strategist and Law of Attraction coach, working primarily in the Network Marketing industry. She aims to nurture close working relationships to help people establish a strong online presence and develop a mindset for success.