We have all heard the flight attendant’s instructions, “Make sure to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before assisting small children.” This makes intuitive sense because you can’t help others in distress until you first take care of yourself. For me, where this analogy falls short is in implying that putting self-care first is only appropriate in an emergency. I want to encourage you to make your own personal wellness a priority now so that you can withstand the turbulence and effectively be there for your children, spouse, family, friends and colleagues.
As CEO of a fast-paced wellness video start-up, as well as a wife, sister, and mother of three, I have a lot of people and priorities vying for my time and attention. At one point earlier in my life I found myself being pulled in so many different directions that I actually felt guilty for “sneaking away” to exercise because I believed that it only benefited me. The voice in my head was saying, “Shouldn't I be reviewing that proposal instead of taking this 45-minute run?” or “Shouldn't I be spending time with my family on Saturday morning rather than a 60-minute yoga class?” I worked longer hours, woke up earlier in the morning, and in the end, it almost burned me out.
After leaving my role as President of a publicly traded company in 2009, I was fortunate enough to take an extended break from full-time work and focus on my holistic wellness. To my surprise I discovered that investing time each day in my own well-being was not a luxury but an actual necessity. Without this vital attention to self-care, I could not effectively manage my commitments to others, reduce my stress, and be my best self. This realization was a driving force behind my decision to start Grokker, a company centered around making wellness accessible to everyone.
Here are a few ways you can practice self-care and add a little wellness into your life each day:
- Give Yourself a ‘Time Out’ - When you start feeling maxed out, snappy, and overwhelmed, it is time to take a break. True, you can’t always drop everything you’re doing at the precise moment your stress level hits its peak, but it doesn't take much time to feel the benefits of a short, self-imposed time out. Try taking a 10-minute walk, have a cup of tea in the sunshine, read a chapter of a good book, meditate, or sit and do nothing other than list 3 things you are grateful for today. Taking just a few minutes to regain perspective will be well worth it.
- Eat 3, Move 3, Sleep 8 - No matter your situation - whether you’re a stay-at-home or a working parent - you have a lot to juggle. You need to be both mentally and physically strong to effectively deal with the challenges thrown at you throughout your day. You require adequate rest, exercise, and nutrition to handle life’s unpredictable challenges. And guess what…these are variables you can actually control. You need three nutritious meals per day, three workouts of 30 minutes per week, and eight hours of sleep per night, that's 3, 3, 8.
- Get your kids involved - Your kids may not always listen to you, but they will model your behavior. Use this power for good and help them build healthy habits while they are young so it will benefit them for their lifetime. Take your kids to the grocery store with you and get them involved in picking out the fruits and vegetables. Encourage your children to move with you each day - they can join you on a walk or a swim or even doing some online yoga videos in the living room. Even if they just watch you leave in your leggings to go to that yoga class every Saturday morning, it will reinforce the importance of self-care and help them to build their own healthy habits.
So please, let go of the guilt and embrace the fact that self-care isn't selfish. Investing in my personal wellness - and never neglecting “me” - has allowed me to manage my stress and maintain a well-rounded life both at work and at home.