These pandemic years have been hard on everyone. They’ve been particularly challenging for C-suite executives who feel responsible for everyone else and may be reluctant to take care of themselves. But self-care for leaders is key to sustaining the pace and the energy needed to get through difficult times.
With the vestiges of the Great Resignation still looming large, it’s all you can do to keep the wheels on the bus, let alone yourself. What’s an overextended executive supposed to do? The job didn’t get any easier if you were tapped to work remotely. In fact, life became a lot more complicated. You need to find that precarious balance between work and home life, and help your team do the same.
If you are an executive leader and you’re wondering what you can do to ease your burden, we have some ideas to help you recharge your batteries and set up an excellent start to the new year.
A Tailored Approach to Executive Self-Care
Now, more than ever, it’s time to breathe. There are more challenges to come in the future. But unless you take care of yourself today, you’ll have a tough time leading as effectively as you could tomorrow.
Here are six ideas to recharge, regenerate and regain your equilibrium. Remember: It’s not self-indulgence. It’s a necessary part of being an effective leader.
Take Care of Your Mind and Body
Start each day off with healthy habits. You don’t have to do a 5 a.m. CrossFit workout. Even a few simple yoga poses or a stretching routine can be beneficial. When you take care of your body, it shows, and not just in how you look. Research shows that exercise can help improve your work performance.
A Leeds Metropolitan University study compared the self-reported results of 200 employees across various companies. On days when they exercised, employees reported managing their time better and being more productive. But the best results occurred at the end of the day when they went home feeling more satisfied, a great boon for mental health.
These employees had the luxury of a company gym. If your company doesn’t have one, maybe it’s a good idea to float to your executive team. Even if there is no space or time for a midday workout, do it first thing in the morning before the day gets in the way. Where will you find the motivation? Forget about willpower. Sleep in your workout clothes so that you automatically get to it first thing.
Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
The best time to prep for the next day’s activities is the night before. Sure, you might already have a scheduling tool on your mobile phone or laptop. Don’t discard a system that works for you. But making hand-written notes at the end of the day is beneficial in several ways. First, it requires little time to jot down a note versus opening up a program or app. Second, it will be easier to refer to your list during the day and alter it on the go. Third, if an issue is keeping you up at night, write it down. You’ll summarize it more effectively on paper, and you can give it greater consideration in the morning.
Use Systems to Manage Your Life
There’s a reason why Steve Jobs wore black all the time. Research suggests that the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. It’s called decision fatigue, and it’s real. For executives, that number is likely much higher. One of the best ways to simplify is in your personal life. However, you don’t have to don funeral attire if that’s not your thing.
The point is to set up as many systems in your life as possible. It’s the same thing you do at work. Whether it’s putting together a capsule wardrobe, establishing a morning routine, or decluttering your home, systems move you away from constant decision-making and toward doing the things that spell success.
Decide When to Unplug
Many executives hesitate to leave the office. Sure, they may return home every night, but they never stop checking their emails and text messages. You don’t always have to be accessible. It’s really a choice that you make. When you’re at home, are you really present?
It takes practice and discipline to put your devices aside and focus on your family or yourself. But once you make it a conscious habit, it will feel as natural as brushing your teeth. Your work life will likely benefit, as well, when you return refreshed. Here’s an added bonus: If you encourage your people to find work-life balance, it will resonate more authentically with them if you’re able to walk the walk.
You don’t need a superpower when you have a super helper. There are many types of people you can hire to do the things you don’t have time for. Think beyond a housekeeper or meal preparation. In addition to repetitive tasks like grocery shopping, maintaining your personal calendar, or laying out clothes for the children, there are one-off chores that happen like scheduling a service call for your HVAC, taking an elderly parent to the doctor, or organizing the garage.
Find a Sounding Board
Executives need emotional support, too. When you’re dealing with a demanding work situation, you need a safe harbor. That person could be a spouse, friend, coach, counselor or family member. But make sure you have mentors, as well, who are outside of the workplace. These mentors can offer an objective viewpoint and help you think through a sticky situation or reframe a challenge. It’s essential, too, to have relationships that don’t revolve around work. If your social buddies and your work buddies are one and the same, you limit your circle of influence and your perspective.
Remember that you’re in charge. It’s your life. You can have a phenomenal career without crumbling around the edges. In 2022, commit to implementing positive changes that keep you happy and healthy for the coming year and many more to come.
If you’re looking to add to your executive team, Y Scouts can help. We understand how important it is to hire the right people. Contact us today.