There’s a common misconception that a successful leader is a workaholic, pouring 100% of themselves into their work with little regard or time for anything else. While hard work is certainly a trait of successful leaders, a truly successful leader recognizes the importance of self care. After all, workplace burnout can have significant negative effects on mental health, which in turn results in decreased performance.
To avoid burnout and remain highly effective, it’s important for leaders to both practice self care themselves and self care for their employees. Here are a few strategies that can help keep burnout at bay and ensure you operate at your full potential.
Refuel and Re-Energize
Hard work can be both mentally and physically draining. To keep performing at maximum potential, it’s important to take time throughout the day to refuel and re-energize.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is through breathing exercises. We breathe differently when we’re relaxed as opposed to when we’re stressed; natural breathing is deep and slow, while strained breathes come short and quick. By taking a little bit of time during the day to focus on your breathing, you’ll notice the stress start to slip away.
Another great way to re-energize is by incorporating small bits of joy into your daily routine. For example, if music makes you feel happy, take ten minutes during the day to simply sit back and listen to some of your favorite tunes in peace.
Boundaries are one of the most important self care strategies for any successful leader or employee. Simply put, if you are always surrounded by work, it’s impossible to maintain your mental health and stay sharp. As such, you need well-defined boundaries that dictate when you are in and out of work mode.
After you are done with work for the day, make sure you’re truly done. Do not incessantly check emails or follow up with employees about anything work-related. While this takes discipline, it is a boundary you must set with yourself and stick with it.
Make sure your employees also know about your boundaries; clear communication will let them know to leave work questions for work hours.
While it may seem obvious, a little kindness goes a long way. Running a successful business is difficult; it’s easy to let the stress dictate your mood. To be a good leader, it’s vital to set aside any negativity you may be feeling and to be kind both to yourself and your employees.
Not only is the kind approach common sense, but it’s scientifically proven to improve your business. According to an article from Psychology Today, there’s a direct correlation between kindness and success.
When you’re trying to balance leadership and self care, make a conscious effort to let kindness guide your interactions. You’ll set a standard for your employees to follow, and create a more positive work environment for both your employees and yourself.
Take Time to Reflect Each Day
Sometimes, when we think of self care, we focus on ways to put work out of our minds entirely. While this is certainly effective, sometimes taking time to think about work in a different light can be just as effective. Accordingly, another useful strategy for maintaining your positive mindset is to take a moment to reflect at the end of each day.
At the end of the day, think about what happened during the day, what stressors you ran into, and consider what lessons can be learned. By turning a stressful event into a learning experience, you can start to view things through a more effective and actionable frame of reference. Now, with greater perspective, you can react to a similar event without experiencing the same level of stress.
Don’t just focus on the negative, though. Think of the good things that happened during the day and feel gratitude for the positive outcomes. Focus on what made those moments so good, and try to replicate them in the future.
Connect with Nature
Finding some time to connect with nature is another extremely helpful self care technique. Research shows that spending time in nature can be extremely therapeutic. Being outdoors allows you to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of your work life, and allows you to see the bigger picture so you can remember what life is really about.
Whether you use your off time to go on a hike, or even just take a walk in a park during your lunch break, an hour outdoors can be extremely calming.
Be Aware of Your Inner Voice
We all have an inner voice that speaks to us throughout the day. This voice can take many tones; the tone yours takes is highly dependent on your overall attitude. If you recognize that your inner voice is negative and judgmental, you should take steps to change that. Psychology Today recommends identifying what your voice is saying, where it comes from, and responding to it accordingly.
Your inner voice says a lot about how you are feeling, and it’s important that you recognize when yours is taking a harsh tone. As you practice these strategies, it’ll become easier and easier to make the necessary changes and bring about a more positive tone.
Learn to Celebrate Successes
One of the most important self care strategies is to learn how to celebrate your successes. When we are engrossed by our work, we often come to a point where we view successes as “just doing our jobs.” Sure, accomplishments are part of “doing our jobs”; but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate when we are successful.
Next time you land a new client, make a sale, or whatever else is considered a typical success in your line of work, celebrate it. Think about how well you performed to make that happen, and be proud of yourself.
Practice Self-Affirmations Each Morning
Not everyone automatically forms positive thoughts about themselves. If you find that you judge yourself harshly and have trouble being complimentary, then you need to find a strategy to increase your self-worth.
Each morning, start your day with some self-affirmations. This doesn’t mean you need to stand in a mirror and talk to yourself; simply take a few minutes to think about your positive traits, and think about how well you are going to do that day. Speak your positive thoughts into existence.
Work is Important, but Your Mental Health is More Important
Work can consume all of us, especially those who are under a lot of pressure to be strong leaders. While hard work is undeniably important to be a successful leader, it’s just as important to practice self care to maintain success.. While success can come quickly to a workaholic, ignoring your mental health will ensure that success slips away just as fast as it came about.