If you’ve been in the position of taking care of others in any way,
whether you’re a leader, a parent, a health professional, all of the above or something different, you’ve probably discovered that you can’t take good care of others when you haven’t taken care of yourself. In other words, “you can’t serve from an empty vessel.” You can try, but you’ll be serving up a much lower-quality version of yourself.
In my years of helping others to achieve change,
I am someone who pushes people to go further faster. But I’m also someone who strongly promotes rest and recovery. And when I’m in the position of recommending the latter—I often get resistance as a response.
It’s a part of American culture.
We take pride in how much we work; there is even competition around it. In some circles we wear an unspoken badge of honor for being exhausted. So when I recommend taking time to recharge, I’m usually given a long list of reasons why it can’t be done. In the coaching world we call this defending one’s limitations.
I’ve been a hard driver of myself for many years.
But there was a time when I drove myself into headaches, physical and mental fatigue, physical pain and a barrage of illnesses. It wasn’t until I experienced the painful lessons that came from a lack of balance, that I was forced to make balance one of my priorities.
I needed to learn how to take time for myself in the midst of a very busy lifestyle. And when I succeeded I experienced first-hand how a relatively small amount of time invested in taking care of myself makes the rest of the day much more productive, valuable and rich.
It is possible! The key is to do it in the most effective, and efficient way possible, which can require some experimentation (or working with a professional, like me).
I’ve had conversations with friends and clients these last few weeks about this topic.
For many, working from home can produce a different kind of overwhelm; another kind of rat race altogether. You may find it harder to get away from work because your work is now at home; there may be people at home asking for your attention around the clock; there can be a never-ending list of household chores staring you in the face.
If you had some rituals that kept you grounded and balanced in the past it’s likely some, if not all of them, have been tossed out the window. You may not be able to get to the gym, go to your yoga studio, have a relaxing date night, or take a weekend in the mountains or at the beach. But the balance I speak of is worth much more than a vacation.
In this critical time, we must be fierce defenders of our healthy habits.
First and foremost, they are necessary for the strength of your immune system. Next, coming in very close second—if anyone is counting on you to be at your best, taking time to eat healthy, to exercise, to meditate, to read a book or take a walk in silence and to fully connect with another person for a few moments every day is not a luxury— it’s a necessity.
It’s not weak, it’s courageous.
It’s not lazy, it requires discipline.
These habits replenish your mental and physical energy, reduce risk of preventable diseases, make you physically and mentally stronger and more resilient, help you to make better decisions and be a more patient and kind version of yourself.
Many successful people, especially successful leaders, know this—and embrace it completely.
Now is the time to exercise your creative brain and think outside the box.
How can you re-create your healthy rituals, or create new ones? How can you fit new or better healthy habits into your life so you can be optimal, and thrive in this world even while it’s turned up-side down?
“Fit leaders” will come out of this timeframe with new and better habits that support resilience, effectiveness, and stamina. I’d like to see you right up there with them.
Share in the comments if you’ve created some new, healthy habits in the past few weeks.
Think outside the box. Know that little things add up. And let me know if I can help you.