As a manager, your days revolve around everyone else. You’re the unsung hero who tends to the needs of your employees, customers, boss, and the business, all while juggling the weight of additional responsibilities like caring for children, dealing with a demanding partner, or tending to a sick parent. This daily burden is like a stealthy boulder on your shoulders, one you’ve grown so accustomed to that you hardly notice it’s there.
The Weight of the World
Often, we make that boulder heavier than necessary. Maybe it’s taking on that extra project when you’re already swamped or insisting on doing it all because you’re not one to delegate . I used to be the Queen of the martyrs, always saying, “No, no, let me do that, you’re busy.” Like I wasn’t!
Understandably, managers feel they need to be superheroes. Swooping in to save the day when everything is falling apart, rapidly adapting to a sudden shift in company priorities or a global pandemic that upends the workplace, battling performance issues and toxic employees, and frequently placing their concern for others ahead of themselves.
But even superheroes need to recharge their superpower meters, and strange things happen when you ignore self-care.
Your Body’s Wake-Up Call
Our bodies are like alarm bells, and they refuse to be ignored.
I remember a time when my department was on the brink of elimination. The lack of job security created added stress but I soldiered on like nothing had changed. After all, I was Superwoman and could handle anything that came my way. Initially, I was able to ignore a few symptoms – headaches and fatigue, but I brushed them off as the flu. It took a while to get out of my denial stage and admit the symptoms were stress related.
Your body speaks loudly, even if you’re not listening. Sleepless nights, mysterious rashes, stomach troubles, and headaches are all signs of stress. Ignoring these signals isn’t just a bad idea; it will affect your work and personal life.
Why Managers Need Self-Care
Self-care isn’t just for stress relief; it’s a superpower booster. When you take care of yourself, your superpower meter stays full, and you can take on the world. Neglecting self-care drains that meter and leaves you vulnerable to stress, burnout, and fatigue. It’s like Wonder Woman without her lasso of truth – skilled but not at her best.
Here’s how it looks when you are recharged:
➡️You handle stress and prevent burnout.
➡️You make sharper decisions with mental clarity.
➡️You boost productivity. When you are well-rested, well-nourished, and mentally sharp, you get more done in less time, which results in better outcomes for the organization and helps you achieve your goals.
➡️You set an example for your team. By prioritizing your well-being, you role model for your team to do the same. A healthy workplace culture starts at the top.
➡️You achieve a better work-life balance and greater job satisfaction.
➡️Your energy and focus levels soar.
➡️You develop increased empathy for your team. Prioritizing self-care can help you cultivate greater self-awareness, leading to increased empathy and understanding of challenges your team members may face.
➡️You tap into your creativity. Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy can help you tap into your creativity and problem-solving skills allowing you to approach challenges with a fresh perspective.
➡️You become a better communicator. You’re not too exhausted and distracted to listen and respond appropriately to your employees.
Okay, now that we’ve got some compelling reasons on the table, let’s explore how to make self-care a part of your daily life without adding more stress.
Recharging Your Superpower Meter
Summoning your inner superhero day in and day out, with that ever-confident manager’s face, is exhausting. As leaders, we willingly pour our time and effort into satisfying, motivating, and inspiring others, but often, we neglect to extend that same care to ourselves. So, let’s explore some ways to refuel your superpower meter by tweaking a few habits.
- Schedule self-care like a meeting: Block time in your calendar for self-care and treat it like a non-negotiable appointment with yourself. You wouldn’t cancel on a client, right? If you only have 30 minutes once a week, that’s okay.
- Start small: Not all of us have time or money to go to the spa weekly, hit the gym every day or pursue creative hobbies. Begin with small habits like a 10-minute walk, 5 minutes of meditation, or a gratitude journal. Even occasionally swapping that latte for a smoothie, water, or herbal tea can work wonders.
- Combine self-care with work tasks: Take a walking meeting or take stretch breaks during conference calls. Use your lunch break to try a new healthy restaurant or read a book.
- Set boundaries: As a manager, it can be hard to disconnect from work. Communicate your self-care needs to your team and set clear boundaries. You deserve time to recharge.
- Say no with No Guilt: There will always be committees, projects, family, personal requests, and opportunities to overflow your day. Don’t overcommit. Say no occasionally and use that time for yourself. Others will understand, and you’ll be better for it.
- Say yes to help: Don’t be a one-person show. If your partner offers to vacuum, let them. It’s okay if they leave a few dust balls behind the couch. Accept offers of assistance and ask for help when needed.
- Find an accountability partner: Having support can make a huge difference. A friend, family member, or coach can keep you on track.
- Unplug from technology: Dedicate time to unplug and focus on screen-free self-care activities. It’s precious time to connect with loved ones or simply enjoy life.
- Build self-care into your work culture: Talk about self-care with your team and create a supportive culture that values mental and physical well-being. Organize activities like walking meetings or team-building exercises that involve physical activity, have healthy potluck lunch days and wellness check-ins. Make sure to have fun!
- Try Scream Therapy: If you need to let out some pent-up frustration, you can try shouting it out occasionally. Although, I don’t recommend you do this in the office.🥺Here’s an external article if you want to read more about this technique.
- Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself, celebrate your successes, and accept your limitations. Remember, you’re only human.
- Be flexible: Self-care is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be open to trying different self-care practices, and adjust your routine as needed to find what works best for you.
You need to get, not only give. Indulging in some blissful, guilt-free Me Time is not selfish, it’s a necessity. By making a few small changes, you’ll recharge your superpower meter and feel like the superhero you truly are.
Do I prioritize self-care in my daily life as much as I prioritize caring for others, both personally and professionally?
What signs of stress or burnout have I noticed in myself recently? How can I address these signs and take better care of my well-being?
Do I find it challenging to say “no” without feeling guilty? How can I become more comfortable setting boundaries for myself and my well-being?
Which self-care practices from the post resonate with me the most, and how can I start incorporating them into my life?
Share your favorite ways to unwind and recharge!