3 Reasons Self-Care is Selfless Leadership

leadership Apr 29, 2021
considerate and compassionate

          Although the metaphor of “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others” when talking about self-care is slightly overused; it still paints a powerful image. We must help ourselves before we can help others.

           As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel with more vaccinations and fewer COVID-19 cases, companies need to start thinking about what the workplace will look like when their employees return to the office.

Prepare to Return to the Office

           In early March 2020, many schools and businesses shut down with zero preparation or warning. This left many frustrated and angry as many professionals did not have proper time to plan.

           While we do not know when life will “return to normal,” it is never too soon to start planning for the return to “the new normal.” Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing a series of articles that will help leaders and companies in resetting their company culture post-COVID-19.

           Most importantly, for you, the leader is to first put on your own oxygen mask. If you are only barely able to survive, you will not be able to bring your team back to thrive.

           You must practice self-care.

Self-care is Your Most Important Routine

           Self-care is the single most important routine for any leader. Even before COVID-19, I’ve said that leaders who do not practice self-care are like running a car on an empty tank—the car (and leader) is useless. (Check out this blog 3 Actions to Help You Lead Powerfully. Now, more than ever, it is important for you to make sure your tank is full.

           First, leaders need to make sure they are mentally and physically ready to return to the workplace. Take note of your mental health. Everyone processed and experienced the pandemic in different ways. Did you lose part of your business? Did you lose a loved one? Did the stress of uncertainty fill you with anxiety? Poor mental health can lead to burnout and depression.

Tips for Your Mental & Physical Health

           There are many ways to help your mental health including doing a hobby you enjoy, meditating, keeping active, taking a break, or even talking to a professional. There is no shame in seeking professional help. Just as you would go to the doctor if you broke your leg, seeking professional help for mental health is also important.

           Physical health goes hand-in-hand with mental health. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right, and getting some exercise will go a long way in taking care of yourself. During my time in the Marine Corps, I found that exercising regularly helped me clear my mind, gave me a boost of energy, and helped prompt my creativity. While my older self may not be as fast, I still find that finding a little bit of time every day to exercise helps with clarity and fights burnout.

Pay Attention to Your Emotions

           Second, recognize what you are feeling is normal. Although our experiences over the last year might be different, our emotions may be the same. Recognize that other leaders and team members may have walked parallel paths during this same time.

           As you prepare yourself for the new normal of the workplace environment, it's ok to feel nervous, scared, or unsure. Take note of how you’re feeling, and recognize how you might see those feelings in your team members (more on that in a future article) and how you can help. Just understand that your emotions are valid and you are not alone.

           Finally, thank yourself for surviving 2020. It was a year no one could have predicted.

           Give yourself grace and applaud all the things you did right. Forgive yourself and learn from some of the things you wish you would have done better. Recognize how you were able to adapt and overcome a myriad of obstacles and how that contributed to your growth as a leader. Take those lessons learned forward with you and continue to build upon them.

           As British author, Stuart Wilde once said, “in a time of crisis we all have the potential to morph up to a new level and do things we never thought possible.” You did that and you’ve succeeded. Do not let your momentum falter by avoiding self-care as we get closer to normal life.

           I encourage you to be vigilant in ensuring your role as a leader does not overshadow self-care.

          The leader in you will thank yourself for it.

Jenny DuFresne is the CEO, Leaders Transform. Our mission is to develop leaders who grow, inspire, and evolve people, culture, and impact. Our team supports executive and mid-level leaders with executive coaching, leader, team, and culture development in mid-market companies. Learn more at www.LeadersTransform.com

Free Access to the Stop the Overwhelm Checklist

Join our leader community. Get 7 strategies to reduce stress and increase your impact.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.