As leaders we often get caught up in looking out for other people, we truly forget to look out for ourselves. Even typing that last sentence I felt weird making the statement to look out for yourself. It really is important though. Getting pulled in so many directions it is easy to get overwhelmed, feel burdened and lose sight of the work we do. For me, when this happens I usually end up getting super anxious and then lazy; as if what I am about to do won’t have any impact. What do you do for self-care to help you refocus and get in the game? Here are some ideas that I try to use
Every week, usually on Sunday nights, I set up a few goals for the week. I hit the big events that I need to crush, but also remind myself to get in the gym, read more, or create goals to positive habits. For instance, this week I have a goal to get in the gym four times. This helps me know that I need to do it four times, but that I won’t beat myself up one morning for sleeping in (like this morning). I have the rest of the week to make up for it and can plan accordingly. What goals are you currently working on? Make sure they simply aren’t work related, but related to your personal wellness, growth and your relationships.
To Do Lists
Sometimes I just make to-do lists for the sake of making a list. I love being able to sense that I actually accomplished something when I can cross it off the list. Even if one of the items was to “cross off an item on the list.” The sense of accomplishment helps me to build momentum through the day and tackle some projects, break down big things into small tasks, and allows me to visualize my work so I can stay on track better. Personally, my confidence is tied into a sense of accomplishment. To-do lists are a great representation of this, and can even be tied into your goals. At the end of a day, even when I feel like I haven’t done anything, I can look back and say that I had a really productive day and it was a step in the process.
I am a highly relational person, so one of the best things for me to do when feeling anxious or overwhelmed is to call a friend. This helps me to vent, process information, hear what they are doing and even get some external motivation. I can be my own worst critic. It takes the perspective of others to help push me through some hurdles.
Treat Yo’ Self
This is probably my favorite self-care strategy. Treat yo’ self is simply based around rewarding yourself for what you do. For me, I set up my work time into 30 minute increments, with a 5 minute treat yo’ self time to be on social media, play a game, or look up how the Quantum Realm will be used to defeat Thanos. Seriously, this has helped me to be a better worker, learner, and feel better. Sometimes, I treat myself with a milkshake, or a new outfit for bigger moments. In college, I saw post about someone who put a gummy bear on every page of their book to help motivate them to read more. Whatever it takes! Use these rewards to help motivate you, change your attitude and stay focused.
This is tough for me. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally, cynicism does. I have to intentionally look for ways to show gratitude. Usually, this looks happens at the end of the day as I journal. I take inventory of my day and write down three things I am grateful for. Other times, this looks like a note to my wife or a text to a friend. For me, practicing gratitude has helped me to take a realistic look about the situations I am in and lessens the weight that I can feel.
Working with youth can be tough at times. It can feel like a pebble in the ocean, but what we do does matter. By thinking about self-care as you work you can be better reminded of the impact you make on the lives of others.