It’s been a doozy of a year. And while yes, we’ve been saying this for the past few years, 2022 stands apart in my own personal life. I think we can each say that about a particular stretch of time since the pandemic began — whether it was adjusting to one of the many lockdowns, losing a job, navigating health complications, losing someone we love, or something completely different that felt all the heavier because of everything else that’s happening in our world.
Stress levels are high. If you’re like most, you’ve probably found it difficult to practice self-care, let alone meet your own needs first.
Self-care has almost felt like a luxury in these times of chaos. You’re focused on surviving, on getting through. And if you’re a woman, you’re most likely taking on the care of those around you as well. Have the kids eaten, is the laundry done, who still needs their shots, will a dog boost the family’s mental health, has everyone gotten fresh air and exercise? Are all the bodies clean? Do we have enough toilet paper?
Who would have thought at the beginning of 2022 that we’d find ourselves here? Exhausted, stressed, and on the edge of burnout on not just one thing but almost everything. A friend texted me this week and asked, “How do people keep showing up to life?” Most, if not all, can relate to this sentiment.
Two years of Covid has changed so much. Life is different. People are different. And yes, it’s tough to show up some days. For me, it doesn’t feel like my own skin. It doesn’t fit well, yet it’s reality.
You’re part of the business owners club. The women entrepreneurs gang. What can you do to not just make it through each day, but to learn to thrive?
The Benefits of Self-Care
Right now, self-care may seem like a pipe dream. But trust me, you’ll reap all the benefits. You’ll:
- Have more energy.
- Enjoy a better work life balance.
- Stay on top of your task list.
- Have time, energy and desire to stay healthy.
- Be eating healthy.
- Love your life and the people in it so much more.
- And as ironic as it sounds, you’ll get more done.
A daily routine of self-care prevents burnout and promotes all kinds of healthy habits. You might even have extra time to hang at your local coffee shop!
Better self-care for female entrepreneurs means:
1. Your Own Needs are Important
Why is it so difficult to acknowledge not just that you have needs, but that they’re important enough to prioritize? Why do you feel guilty about having needs? Instead, you probably measure your own happiness levels by how happy the people around you are.
When asked how you’re doing, you may respond: “My partner is doing so well in his job! He’s up for a promotion soon. And my kids are all in sports. My kid just made their first soccer goal last week. We picked up a pizza on the way home to celebrate.” This “happiness by proxy” is not an accurate measure of your own happiness. It’s not an accurate reflection of your own level of satisfaction in life.
As a woman, you’ve been conditioned from a young age to nurture and sustain and support the people around you. Often, the measuring stick of your accomplishment in life is the success of those efforts. And on the flip side, you’re failing if the people around your are not happy and thriving. What a brutal culture!
But here’s the actual truth: you can’t sustain success (no matter how you define it) if you’re not taking care of you. It’s far from selfish to take care of your own needs. To charge your batteries. To step away, whether it be for a few minutes or a few days.
There is nothing alive today that can continuing outputting without some sort of input. That’s true even for things that aren’t alive: When was the last time your phone charged itself? Or your oven worked without being plugged in to the electric grid or the gas line?
Happy by proxy isn’t really happy.
2. You Can Build a Culture of Self-Sufficiency
You’re probably already balking at this headline, am I right? But hear me out. If you’ve ever flown, you’ve heard the safety spiel. “Here’s how to buckle your seat belt. These lines will guide you in case of an emergency. Your seat is a flotation device. And here’s how to put on your oxygen mask.“
They’re teaching you things that you can do to stay safe that are within your control. THIS is the type of self-sufficiency I’m talking about.
Can you imagine the chaos if the flight crew had to buckle everyone’s seat belts? It will never happen. The flight crew shares this information so you can take care of your basic needs in event something goes awry during the flight. This frees them up and allows them to take care of other, more complicated needs that will help all passengers.
Their instructions empower everyone on the plane to know how to act if the need arises.
It’s easy for a nurturer to unintentionally build dependency into those they nurture. (Let’s be real, it’s nice to be needed!) Flip that script! Instead, consider how you can instill a sense of self-sufficiency in those around you. Are there a few easy dinner recipes your partner or kids can learn? Are there some tasks at work you can teach a team member to do?
Take a few minutes to think of the things that people depend on you for and consider a few ways you can empower them to find a way through without you. Because, like the flight crew, this will empower you to take care of other tasks. Things like self-care and building strong support network.
3. You MUST Schedule Time for Self-Care
My first reaction to this call to action was to laugh. (Okay, maybe more like a very unladylike snort…) Nobody has time for that! My schedule was filled to the brim and I never had enough time to do all.the.things. But here’s the crazy, simple, doesn’t-make-sense math of self-care: When you take time for self-care, you gain time through greater peace, greater efficiency, clearer thinking, and a whole lot more joy.
Take a rabbit trail with me… What changes in your actions when you love someone? You do everything you can to make their life better: emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually. Make time for things they’re interested in. Seek out activities that would bring them joy. And you find things to pique their interest and spark new ideas.
Now let’s walk that bridge back to self-care, which, in essence, is self-love. How can you start loving yourself?
What self-care can you schedule this week? Next week? This month? How about this year? It’s time to pull out your calendar and block off some time for self-care. The important part is to prioritize it. Make it the first thing you schedule each week. And then don’t move it. Don’t skip it. Don’t gloss over your self-care appointment with yourself.
The power of these little choices can be life changing! Once you make self-care a routine, it won’t take long at all before you begin to see the benefits. The people around you will notice, too! Because you’ll be a calm, steady presence, a woman who is refreshed and ready for whatever comes her way.