‘Self care’ is just term dreamed up by hippies, yogis and other crunchy types who have zero business sense and far too much time on their hands.
At least, that’s what I keep hearing from far too many many business owners and entrepreneurs on the circuit. Yes, even the wellness entrepreneurs who should really know better.
Their claim is that self-care is; a) For wimps, and, b) completely because life as an entrepreneur is tough. Period.
They say that launching your own business and you’re sentencing yourself to a long slog and an altogether difficult life. You’ll need to invest plenty of blood, sweat and tears into making your business a success and even then it might not even work. You could still find yourself broke, exhausted and broken…
Besides, they’re nothing like the 90% of entrepreneurs whose businesses fail within the first five years. They’re pumped with motivation, determination is their middle name and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.
So you guess that those ‘experts’ must be right and throw yourself headfirst into your business,
You push yourself hard when you need to because that’s what it takes to be an entrepreneur, you stay up late, skip meals, cancel social activities and keep your nose to the grindstone. Who cares about self-care?
They’re right, life as an entrepreneur can be tough…
Let’s be honest, those ‘experts’ are kind of right. From the moment you take that deep breath and decide to launch your own business, you’re facing an enormous challenge.
The biggest of which is yourself.
You need to overcome all that fear and uncertainty that comes from getting out of your comfort zone.
You need to believe in yourself and your own innate abilities so that you can start building the dream. You also need to be aware that it will take hard work, especially when you’re putting all the pieces into place like logo design, building your website and setting up your social media account, let alone the nuts and bolts of your business.
What makes it worse is that you’re pretty much constantly ‘on call’ thanks to smartphones and social media and you’re so keen to make it work that any spare time just gets sucked up by it all.
I’ve been there myself.
I started my wellness copywriting business when my energetic son was still a toddler AND I was finishing up my linguistics degree via distance learning, so all my time was spent either being mum, studying or working hard to build my business.
Whilst I didn’t skip meals because I ate whenever my son ate, I did find myself staying up far too late to meet project deadlines or complete assignments, answering work emails when I was supposed to be playing Playmobil with my son, cancelling social plans to get more work done and never EVER taking a day off. EVER.
For several years, I managed pretty well to juggle all these different roles.
I suppose I rode the initial wave of motivation, enthusiasm and a desire to give my son the greatest opportunities for the future. Large cups of strong, black coffee were my saviour and I just got used to the constant, mind-numbing feeling of fatigue.
Before too long, I hit the point that’s the stuff of entrepreneur legend. Burnout. I guess I should have seen it coming…
It got to the point where I’d struggle even to get out of bed in the morning. I could barely muster enough energy for a conversation. I started suffering from all manner of niggling health problems including horrible skin flare-ups, mood swings, and an overwhelming urge to make. it. all. stop.
There was no way I could continue to grow my wellness business when I was feeling so utterly broken.
So I stopped.
I took myself away for a break to reassess the path I was on. Surely, life as a wellness entrepreneur wasn’t supposed to break you? What was I doing wrong?
It was during this time that I took a long hard look at my life and realised I wasn’t practising what I preached. It was time to make a big change.
I started listening to my body. I made nutrition my priority. I got really strict about bedtime, and I vowed that I’d take at least one day off every week.
It doesn’t sound like much, but, honestly, it made a world of difference to how I was feeling about my entire life, my productivity at work and even my relationship with my son. I became ME again.
I felt grounded, calm and ready to take on the world with my wellness business.
Sometimes we need to learn from experience, I guess!
You are your biggest business asset
I came away from this time of burnout with one main life lesson. Self care really matters.
Because WE are the most important element in our business. It might sound really obvious to say, but it quite literally wouldn’t exist without us.
So if we’re really as determined to take our business from strength to strength as we say, and we’re passionate about allowing our dreams to grow, we need to make self care our priority. It needs to be right up there on our daily schedule with meetings, clients, business briefings, blogging, Facebook lives and everything else.
If we continue not to take care of ourselves, we’re harming our businesses. We’re standing right there between ourselves and our dreams. It’s time we get out of our own way, give our bodies and minds the care they deserve and prioritize self care.
“But I’m too busy for self care…”
I hear you! Even though my son isn’t so young these days, I stillhave a million and one things going on so maintaining a healthy work-life balance is always going to be a challenge.
I also want to help my wellness business reach its full potential but I’m not the kind of parent to sit my son in front of the TV all day so I can get more work done. I want to be there and enjoy his childhood whilst it lasts. I also want to keep cooking healthy vegetarian and vegan food from scratch, to enjoy life, to see friends and to live my life to the full.
But here’s the thing. I CAN have all these things. It is completely possible to live an epic life and grow a business without hitting burnout, whether you’re crazily busy or you’re not.
As that old Zen saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
Self care will help you regain your calm. It will help boost your focus. It will rekindle that spark of enthusiasm and bring joy back into your life. Most importantly of all, it will help you get more productive, more creative and more successful.
Despite what you might think, it doesn’t need to take long. Everyone can fit in at least thirty minutes of self care per day, even if that just means having a quiet cuppa and letting your mind wander, going for a quick run around the block or reading a good book.
This is how I take care of myself these days…
At this point, self care might seem like an abstract idea, especially if you’ve been rushed off your feet for so long. You’ll need to allow yourself some ‘downtime’ to consider how you could find more ‘me’ time, destress and wind down. Here’s how I do it.
1) I meditate daily.
Every day, just before bed I meditate for 10 mins. This works wonders for my mental health and has given me so much more insight into my life and what I want for the future. Everything makes more sense and is much more manageable with meditation, plus I feel calmer and much more confident. If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, I’d highly recommend apps like Calm and Headspace to get started.
2) I make sure I’m getting enough sleep.
When you have deadlines looming and you’ve been unable to get as much done as you hoped (kids tend to do this!), it’s hard to get enough sleep. However, it’s exactly at these times when you need it even more! I’m a big fan of sleep so I aim to be in bed at 10.30pm and get at least 8 hours per night.
3) I eat well.
I’m a secret wannabe nutritionist and a keen runner so diet is everything to me. I never skip meals, I eat a healthy plant-based vegan diet, I fuel myself properly and I don’t eat processed foods or sugar. This helps to keep my energy levels balanced, maintain my focus and to keep me feeling at the top of my game. If you think your diet could do with some improvement, I recommend you start by increasing your intake of plants. Plants, plants and more plants!
4) I practice yoga.
Yoga helps me stretch out any knots, process the events of the day and sets me up for a great sleep. Depending on where I am and whether or not I have an internet connection, this might mean watching a short yoga video on YouTube like the one below, or listening to a short yoga podcast like this one.
4) I take at least one day off per week.
Ok, so I’m still working on this one, but I’ve promised myself I’ll try to give myself at least one day off per week. We all need downtime and the brain space away from work where we can do other things and simply be.
5) I stop checking my phone.
When I’ve stopped work for the day, I make sure I stop looking at my phone and ignore those work emails (unless they’re urgent). Much to my best friend’s shock, I often just leave my phone at home and just connect with where I am and who I’m with.
6) I ask for help.
I’m the worst person at accepting help because I’m so used to being independent and in control. But sometimes you just have to, for your own sanity and also to get things done. So don’t be afraid to get a babysitter, hire a cleaner or even hire a writer, social media expert or PA (like me!) to help move your business forward whilst also maintaining your sanity.
To quickly conclude, it’s vital that you dedicate enough time to self care every day, even if you think you’re motivated, energetic and unstoppable. Your business needs you to be at your happiest, healthiest best, and without adequate self care, this is unlikely to happen.