I’m sure you already know self-care is important for your health, but self care also propels your success in achieving your dreams, goals, and outcomes at work.
Like the starter motor in a car, we all need to care for ourselves to get success moving and keep it in momentum.
Advancements start small and grow like a new city
I just read an article by Roberta Kwok at Kellogg insight about cities as they develop and the typical pattern of how industries grow as the city advances.
There’s a pattern of growth as the city becomes more successful.
Smaller cities start with services relying on manual labor and then eventually expand to cognitive work. She explains this is because the workers in cognitive jobs need basic services for their personal and career work to thrive.
For example a micro engineer needs a home, groceries, a car, and food outlets to allow them to innovate.
So when basic needs are met, these feed the more advanced work and innovation that makes the city rich and full.
This works the same way for the success of your advanced work and creativity.
Caring for yourself is necessary, especially when you work in a career based in helping others such as Health and Medicine.
The basic foundation of caring for yourself
Self care comes up so much in conversations about health, it sounds obvious and easy, but in our routines it’s hard to do.
Think about your average week:
- Working long hours
- Dealing with challenging clients or patients
- Planning meals
- Spending time with your kids and partner
- Caring for your pets
- Traveling to and from work
- Cleaning the house
- Keeping up with your left over paperwork
- Etc etc etc
We don’t have much time for what we think of as a relaxing extra.
Authors of the research article I look at this week state:
In health institutions, professionals care for patients, worry about their rehabilitation, strive to prevent their patients’ health problems and to ensure safety, but paradoxically present a disregard and neglect toward their own health (2)
The authors of this paper looked at women in health care professions. This is what you and I do… we care for other people at work and at home and we need to take care of ourselves to do this.
Health care is rewarding but we’re prone to burnout and stress due to:
- Working long hours
- Using our compassion and empathy reserves
- Completing administrative work
- Using our cognitive reserves because we think and talk all day
- Completing ongoing needs for our learning and CPD
Your human needs are important for your success and happiness
Your career tasks are important but so are you:
- Your self -esteem and acceptance of yourself
- Your energy
- Your rest
- Your fun
- Your physical health
- Your mental health
- Your dreams and passions
- Your goals
I understand this dilemma because your work and family are important to you and you want to do these well, but when your energy is low and your mood suffers it’s hard to stay motivated and energetic.
There is a way to put others at the centre and at the same time for you to be happy and successful in your dreams, goals and work.
First you provide the foundation supplies which allow the more advanced achievements in your personal and work life to take shape. In a new city we don’t have a hospital and tech companies before the food and sanitation as that would be a mess.
Much like a new city, you need your basics met before advancement happens, but sometimes it’s our minds that get in the way.
Three mindset pitfalls around self care
Caring for yourself is hard and we fall into one of three common mindsets (or all of them depending on the day we’re having):
- We plan time for ourselves but don’t do it
- We feel guilty if we do take time for self care because the list in our heads gets bigger
- We stop planning it at all because life is exhausting or busy
I want to encourage you (and me) to shift our list around and become better carers of ourselves.
When you boost your self care, there are massive benefits to the success of your dreams, goals, and relationships.
The benefits of boosting your self care
The authors of the paper mentioned above state the effects of work stress including:
- Low job satisfaction
- Physical and psychological complaints
- Physiological fight or flight in response to stress
- Not meeting personal goals or finding meaning in daily tasks
- Poorer health
Women are particularly prone to problems related to occupational stress(2)
So when you take care of yourself you’ll reap benefits for yourself and your family such as
- Better sleep
- Enhanced physical and mental wellbeing
- Energy for the tasks you need to do
- Healthy self esteem
Like a lot of habits, the benefits you achieve then build new successful outcomes such as:
- Improved ability to set goals and achieve them because your energy and self esteem are higher
- Happier relationships because you feel better about yourself and you’re better equipped to relate well with colleagues and family.
- Higher levels of joy because your life is balanced
So how can you start good habits in your self care?
Six Less obvious self care skills to boost your success in life and work
First I’m stating the obvious self care stuff we need, but we all know these things:
- Sleep. At least 7 or 8 hours a night.
- Fruit, veges, food with good fiber
- Exercise that energizes you. This doesn’t have to be crazy routines.
- Time with people you love and who love you.
- Relaxing activities you enjoy
Now here are six less obvious self care skills to boost success in your dreams, goals and work:
- Understand your temperament and the needs to go with it. I’m an introvert and I love to read so I take time to recharge this way. What’s your activity that recharges you?
- Acknowledge the stage you’re in. Has it been a hard season? After a challenging time in my life, I spoke with a psychologist and realized my self care stuff had to take up a bigger portion of my time. On the other hand, I’m feeling more resilient at the moment and I’ve noticed I cope better with a bit more to do. I encourage you in good times to stick with your self care as this provides a buffer of strength to prepare you for unexpected challenges.
- Make a plan for your week to block out time for the basics listed above. Feel free to use my “preferred week” template. This is included in a download at the end of today’s post where you plan out your exercise, rest, fun, work etc so your week is balanced. Another benefit of this task is you have less mental clutter floating around in your head while you’re working.
- Practice mindful attention when you’re with the people you love such as family, friends, or pets. This builds your self care in feeling connected to people outside work and keeps your mind on where you are right now. This is looking, listening, and feeling with the person in front of you. Sounds obvious but I know it’s hard when our minds are full of work and tasks but we will become better at this over time.
- Attend to your self worth with intention. What do I mean by this? We all have a level of self esteem in two dimensions: implicit and explicit. The explicit type is how we rate our value in a conscious way such as “I have worth and value”. The implicit type is less evident in our conscious thoughts and often shows up during a difficult moment. For example a person at work ignores you and you feel upset. What is the belief you have about yourself that sets off the upset? Imagine someone who experienced rejection as a child. Feeling ignored might activate insecurity but they might not be aware of this. To set the foundation for self care in this area, we can intentionally think of ourselves as having worth, no matter what we do or don’t achieve in life.
- Make self care part of your life purpose. To start the process, try writing a short mission statement for your self care. What does self care look like to you? What is the purpose of staying well for your life purpose, goals and relationships?
Caring for yourself matters so you can reduce stress and improve your mindful attention to your best life.
Let’s make the decision the add to our self care skills so we can boost our success in our work, goals, dreams and relationships.
I’ve added my “self care checklist” worksheet below for you to download and work through the strategies I’ve listed above.
When you download this, you’ll be added to my email list and each month I’ll send you the Happiness Field Guide: a short download of tips and suggested reading for creating your happiest life.
Note: the above suggestions are not advice or intended to replace doctor’s advice or seeing a professional such a psychologist or counselor for advice.
Leão ER, Dal Fabbro DR, Oliveira RBd, Santos IRd, Victor EdS, et al. (2017) Stress, self-esteem and well-being among female health professionals: A randomized clinical trial on the impact of a self-care intervention mediated by the senses. PLOS ONE 12(2): e0172455. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172455