Today is all about why self-care is essential—important to you AND your leadership.

And I know you’re thinking, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it, I know…

Well, here’s what you may not know. When you are not taking the time to care for yourself, it is a sign of disrespect. And, it’s a sign of disrespect to you by you!

Here’s why.

Essentially, the message you are sending yourself is that I’m not worth the care. So you unconsciously say, “I’m not deserving of it.” And, here’s the deal, other people pick up on this message too and therefore don’t feel they can or should take care of themselves. This becomes your legacy. You’re passing on that this is how work is done; it’s either work or you take care of yourself. It can’t be both.

When you are not taking care of yourself, you’re sacrificing yourself. You’re depleting yourself. When you’re running on fumes, people see it. So your message becomes, do what I say, not do what I’m doing. It can also build resentment within you because you are giving, giving, giving, and not receiving. But the receiving has to come from you – that’s why it’s “self” care.

I’d love to have you think differently about self-care, so let’s go deeper. When you are pouring that much of yourself into your work and not taking care of yourself, it is a lot about identity. Here’s what I mean. Ask yourself, how much of your identity is associated with your work? When we over-identify with an area of our life, we are lopsided; it’s too much of the equation of how we see ourselves. If you’ve ever known someone who has retired and struggled, then you’ll know what I mean because they didn’t know who they were outside of work. They struggled when they didn’t go to the office, see the same people daily, etc.

So, what does self-care mean?

Self-care is defined as the practice of taking action to improve one’s own health. So practice is the keyword there. Practice is something you do consistently; it’s not something you do every once in a while. It’s not something you do when you hit the wall; it’s not something you do when you develop an illness or get a diagnosis. It is a consistent practice, meaning you do it regularly.

Self-care is not just your physical body either, meaning it’s not just getting a massage or exercise. It can also be protecting and nurturing yourself from a spiritual, mental, and emotional aspect.

How do you practice self-care?

Really, that comes down to whatever it means to you at this particular time in your life because it depends on what is going on personally and professionally.

What is going on at work? What do you feel yourself being pulled towards? And what is it that you want to move away from? What is stressing you out? What is going on that you need to pay attention to?

What is going on personally? Separate yourself from work, and what is it that you need? What is going on in your life, separate from work? Pay attention to that.

What is important and needs protection? If you’ve ever done the areas of life exercise with me, you’ll know what’s important. And if you haven’t, I’ll walk you through it now.

Write the numbers 1 – 6 in a column. Then, consider these areas of life:

Career or what you do for work.

Spirituality or what you are connected to that is larger than you, God, The Universe, the Collective, Spirit, the Divine.

Health and fitness or anything that you do to improve your physical body.

Personal development or anything you do to improve yourself outside of the physical body.

Family, and you get to define it. It could be close family, or it could be extended family.

And, finally, Relationships. Again you get to define relationships. Usually, it’s an intimate relationship, but relationships can mean something else if you don’t have an intimate one. Maybe it’s friendships; you get to decide.

So, consider these six areas of life and put them in order of importance; rank them 1 – 6, with one being the most important area of life, down to six, the least important area of life – knowing they may all be important. Do it quickly, okay? Don’t overthink it.

Next, write the numbers 1 – 6 in another column and put the same areas of life in order of how you spend your time. Then compare the two lists. Now you’ll know what is most important to you and where that disconnect is.

There could be some self-care that goes around bridging the gap so you can bring it back into more harmony.

Ideas of what self-care could be for you.

Spiritually, it could be meditationbeing out in natureyoga, or church.

Mentally, it could be paying attention to your thinking and where it goes. Is your head in the right space, or have you turned into a bit of a negative Nelly? Thinking about your views on certain things. Are your thoughts going toward potential, or are you focusing on what is holding you back?

Emotionally, processing your emotions instead of stuffing them down, ignoring them, and telling yourself not to go there. Letting them out instead, in whatever way that has to happen. Consider journaling, talking to a professional, or talking to a good friend. It could be just experiencing it or working out to process the emotion.

And then finally, physically, exercise, food, sleep, water, and taking care of yourself physically.

Think about where the gaps may be in your self-care. Do you have a practice at all? Maybe it’s asking for help, forgiving yourself, or spending time alone, especially if you’re an introvert. For example, as a keynote speaker, I go out and travel the country, and I meet hundreds of people. And I’m an introvert. So when I come home, I need that time by myself; I need to restore myself.

You might need to say no or enforce your boundaries. And believe me, if you do that Areas of Life exercise, you’ll see where you need to enforce some boundaries.

So what will you put into practice now? Practice is the operative word. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be consistent. So what will you do regularly? It’s not about doing everything we discussed today, but it’s about picking one thing and building a practice around it.

And I’d love for you to share it with me. Share below what you do regularly and how it helps you. This can inspire someone else to try the same thing to see if it would be helpful for them.

And until the next time, here is wishing you all the Clarity and self-care you deserve.