The time is now to invest in you, your leadership team, and your organization. Self-care is more than a catchy buzzword. In a world that is so demanding and competitive, one of the classic myths in practicing self-care is that the act is selfish or that there is no time. However, these beliefs couldn’t be further from the truth. Self-care in essence, is more than taking a vacation or a break. It encompasses that which fills your cup in your most needful space. Hence, making self-care progressive and it changes as we learn, grow, and endure different aspects of life to include work-life balance, changes in workload and duties, promotions, added life responsibilities, bereavement, and compassion fatigue, to name a few. As a mental health professional and a leader in various fields I have seen and experienced burnout firsthand.
For those who labor in high stress fields from various businesses and hospitals, to law enforcement and teaching, it is important that you first care for yourself. Research has shown individuals who are less stressed especially in terms of work-life balance are generally happier thus increasing customer service and productivity. Just imagine, spaces throughout the day such as morning huddles and team meetings where staff can engage in mindfulness exercises so that they are better able to decompress and start their day. Often, companies and organization have the best intentions and invest in various promotions and programs, because they sound good or it’s part of the ongoing trend. Yet, in some cases leadership may not accurately have the pulse of what their staff may be struggling with or challenges they are facing. My team and I have personally led self-care retreats and trainings for organizations, in which people expressed it was their first time really examining and identifying what they needed at that specific time in their life. Thus, the trainings have been highly successful because we inquired about their work culture, specific industry, and provided those in attendance with practical applications and solutions.
These applications come from my book “Self-Care: Let’s Start the Conversation” where I offer individuals four pillars, which I call the 4R’s.
Retreat – Time to withdraw and get away. This means alone time by yourself, absent of all distractions.
- Knowing when to retreat. Before you are in crisis!
- Knowing how to retreat. What is your soul telling you it needs? Perhaps a retreat in nature.
Reflect – A major part of a retreat should encompass a time of reflection. Reflection is important as:
- It allows you to have a clearer perspective.
- It allows you to take a personal inventory on how your actions or decisions have contributed to any given outcome.
Refresh – Seek that which replenishes you. During this stage asking yourself the right questions are key.
- Where are you in your span of life and what spaces need to be filled? Knowing where you are in life emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually is important
- What is needed to fill your cup? Perhaps a time of pampering, a good cry, an old or new hobby, prayer, or meditation.
- When and at what point do you need your cup to be refilled? At what level do you not operate optimally? Do not wait until you are depleted.
Restore – With your newfound awareness of self, refocus and put together your new strategies and resources, and do what is needed to ensure you are your best you.
- In the restoration stage, which is also called regrouping, one can pull from each of the previous stages. What if was like to retreat. What they learned in their reflective space, and what was needed to fill their cup.
- Use the aforementioned practices and apply them in various spaces. Adopt the power of saying “NO” or possibly “NOT RIGHT NOW” to help avoid burnout.
- You should not be afraid to use your resources. Ask for help and allow others to support you.
For those, that find things becoming more challenging seek the help of a mental health professional to help you navigate deeper emotional topics, or a life and wellness coach to help you with work-life balance. The absolute best care you can provide for others first starts with providing the absolute best care to yourself.
Those who encounter a retreated, reflective, refreshed, and restored you, receives the best you.