Getting Back Your Time For Yourself As A Business Leader
After my first daughter was born, taking us from a family of 3 to a family of 4, I was in those early postpartum months where the world is still a little fuzzy and the brain fog is very real.
I was excited to have a daughter and grow our family, which is now a family of 5, and I was also deeply yearning for some sort of structure to have time for myself.
Moving my body has been a constant in maintaining not just my physical, but also my mental health since 2011. Exercise for me was and has been a non-negotiable, and with having 3 babies in 5 years - I had to become an excellent time manager and problem-solver to keep it in my schedule.
After the initial healing postpartum, I was ready to get back into training. But now I had a business to run and TWO humans to keep alive. Did I mention I also breastfeed my babies so that was a full time job in itself?
It was in my second waking of the night between 4-5am that I slowly placed my daughter back down in the pitch black, hoping that she wouldn’t stir after nursing her back to sleep, that I realized - this early morning time was going to be the only guaranteed time I would have with both of the kids asleep.
And so I, reluctantly, became an early morning person.
As women and mothers who are running businesses, our lives are a constant juggling act of managing schedules, leading teams, and tending to personal responsibilities. Our calendars are packed with back-to-back meetings, and we often find ourselves sacrificing our own well-being for the sake of others.
We attempt to solve the problem of burnout and stress by pushing through and dismissing the need for self-care. But this path is unsustainable and ultimately counterproductive.
Self-care is not a luxury; it is a non-negotiable aspect of our lives. Neglecting self-care can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, diminished creativity, and decreased productivity. As leaders, we must recognize the significance of self-care and prioritize it as an essential part of our daily routines… and when we don’t see a way to fit it into our schedule, we have to ask for help.
The Problem with Neglecting Self-Care
In the pursuit of our professional goals and the well-being of our teams, we overlook our own needs. We might believe that taking time for ourselves is a luxury we cannot afford or that it shows weakness or lack of dedication. The truth is quite the opposite.
When you choose to put yourself on the back burner continuously to prioritize your business growth, it’s a one-way ticket to burnout.
The overworking that is draining you physically and mentally removes the possibility for you to function at your best. Too many leaders are stuck here and missing out on creative ideas, innovation, and effective problem-solving.
And beyond the reality of just not feeling your best, your decision-making is impaired which is affecting your business and your team.
Most importantly, your quality of life and relationships suffer. Many women business owners become resentful of their partner's ability to step away, turn off, and relax. The constant need to work leaves no room for presence or being emotionally available for your partner or children.
Neglecting your self-care is actually selfish, which is the opposite of what some of us believe or have been told.
The Truth About Self-Care
Self-care is not an indulgence; it is how we sustain our well-being, resilience, and effectiveness as leaders. It is the only way we can maintain a high level of critical thinking skills, run our businesses, and be there for the people we love.
Most women know the advantages of caring for themselves, the real issue is that we still see this as a negotiable option. When we make it a priority, everyone wins.
Learning to truly understand how self-care benefits not just you, but your business and your family is the best way to help you build habits that include it.
When you care for yourself, your productivity is enhanced by rejuvenating your body and mind giving you more energy to go forth and conquer.
The creativity you need to continue innovating and evolving in your business is found inside engaging in activities that nurture your passions and interests. You ever notice how your greatest ideas come to you as you are falling asleep… or in the shower?
As a leader you have to make critical decisions and be able to problem solve, doing that with brain fog and fatigue is hurtful to everyone involved, when your mind is rested you can focus and make truly informed decisions.
I’ve asked many of my clients this question, “If someone from your team came to you and said they needed time off for a mental health day or a self-care appointment, would you give it to them?” And every time they answer the same - Of course!
But nobody is asking for those days, because they are following your lead and the example you are setting. When you are an example of continued care, room to breathe, and balance - you give your team permission to do the same.
Implementing Self-Care As A Business Leader
The biggest issue women running businesses have when it comes to self-care is a lack of time, mix that with not seeing it as a priority and it’s easy to see why it doesn’t happen.
Knowing that you are busy, have limited time, and have a plate full of responsibilities here is what you actually need to do to get self-care time:
1. Schedule It:
Treat self-care as an essential appointment in your calendar. Allocate specific time slots for activities that rejuvenate you, whether it's meditation, reading, or movement - it needs a slot. And if your calendar is too full to find that time make sure you watch my free class White Space: 6 Unexpected Ways to Clear Space in Your Busy Calendar
2. Prioritize Sleep:
Quality sleep is fundamental to overall well-being. Establish a consistent sleep routine and aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. I personally utilize the bedtime feature in my iPhone so I get an alert at 8:30 pm to be in bed by 9 for my 5 am wake-up. (I’m a morning person now, remember?)
3. Set Boundaries:
Respect your personal time by setting boundaries between work and personal life. Avoid checking emails or taking work calls during designated personal time. This is a big one and I did a whole blog on boundaries that you need to read to put this one in place.
4. Practice Mindfulness:
Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Whether through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, mindfulness helps reduce stress and enhance focus. Making sure you space out your meetings to have at least 5-10 minutes between you can do some deep breathing or head out for a quick walk.
5. Move Your Body:
Physical activity is not only beneficial for your health but also enhances mood and cognitive function. Find activities you enjoy, such as dancing, hiking, or a workout routine, and make them a regular part of your day. Consistent movement also ripples into your confidence as a leader, when we feel good - everyone around us can feel that too.
6. Nourish Your Body:
Pay attention to your nutritional intake. Fuel your body with nourishing foods that provide sustained energy and support overall well-being. And absolutely do not eat lunch at your desk, walk away, make choices that make you feel good, and don’t just do whatever is quickest, or skip lunch altogether.
7. Engage in Creative Pursuits:
Make time for hobbies and activities that spark joy and ignite your creativity. Whether it's painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument, creative outlets enhance overall mental well-being. Try something new, spend time with your friends, take a trip, and give yourself permission to explore.
You may not become a morning person like me to get self-care time, (which I do highly recommend for mamas so we aren’t starting our days serving everyone else from the time we get up) but if you make taking care of yourself your highest priority, many of your problems will dissipate and your happiness will increase profoundly.
Incorporating self-care into your routine is not a luxury; it is a non-negotiable aspect of leading a fulfilling and successful life. As female founders and women in leadership, we must recognize the profound impact of self-care on our productivity, creativity, and overall well-being. By prioritizing self-care and integrating actionable steps into our busy schedules, we can become more effective leaders, lead with clarity and compassion, and create a positive ripple effect within our teams and communities.
Remember, self-care is not a selfish act; it is an act of self-preservation that allows us to show up as our best selves for our businesses, our teams, and our loved ones. Embrace self-care as an integral part of your life and leadership journey, and you'll pave the way for sustainable success and a thriving, balanced life.