When it comes to juggling a busy schedule, it’s the little things that go first. Time with friends and family is often scratched early on, along with exercise and healthy eating.
Enjoying hobbies is even less likely. If you’re working around the clock, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook a meal from scratch or pick up that novel where you left off.
However, letting self-care slip from your schedule is the worst thing you can do — not only for yourself, but for your career.
You hear it all the time: life is about balance. The reason you hear it so often is because it’s true. So, let’s explore the details of self-care, and see how and why it actually works.
We've explored the history of self-care and how you can practice it every day. Simply continue scrolling or use our jump-to links to either learn more about self-care or receive some self-care tips.
Self-Care for Entrepreneurs
What is Self-Care and Does it Work?
The term “self-care” is thrown around a lot these days, and sometimes its usage is a little misrepresentative.
When we talk about self-care, we don’t mean luxurious spa weekends or expensive shopping sprees in which you “treat yourself.” We mean, on a fundamental level, taking care of yourself.
It is not one single act that makes you feel good — it’s a commitment to a lifestyle that nourishes your brain, body, and soul. It’s putting yourself closer to the top of your priority list.
Self-care takes practice, “like athletes training for a sport." In fact, “self-care includes many of the same activities like eating well; sleeping well; saying no to unhelpful temptations; practicing and developing skills; learning from mistakes; celebrating wins; and having outside hobbies or interests.”
Doing all of these things is the first step in taking care of yourself. But the question for the busy professional remains: is taking care of myself really worth the time and effort?
Yes, it really is! Self-care is vital for your mental and physical health, without which even the simplest tasks become mountains instead of molehills.
While self-care may appear to be a vapid term that many accuse of being “a marketing tactic to sell expensive and unnecessary beauty products,” the self-care movement actually began as a way for medical patients to “prevent or manage illnesses by eating well or exercising.” It then became widely advocated among medical professionals in the1960s that people should really make an effort to take care of their mental and physical health.
In 2016, self-care officially became a mainstream concept, and since then has been commodified in many ways. It is viewed by some, especially older generations, as a self-indulgent practice. But that doesn’t make it any less pertinent — or effective.
There are numerous studies that confirm the many benefits of emphasizing self-care. For example, a study from the University of Exeter concluded that being kind to yourself has mental and physical benefits. The self-compassion exercises completed by participants calmed the heart rate, which switched off the body’s threat response, reducing the risk of disease in the long-run.
There are proven consequences of routines prioritizing self-care that can help entrepreneurs, specifically, succeed in their endeavours. Some examples are self-care’s ability to do the following:
- Restore energy resources
- Boost patience and efficiency
- Increase problem-solving skills
It’s not like any of that could make your business worse.
How Do You Practice Self-Care?
Successful female entrepreneurs are among the biggest advocates of self-care, and they have advice for anyone who wants to integrate the practice into their lifestyles too.
Reshma Saujani, the CEO of Girls Who Code, said that “me time” is an integral part of her schedule every day. Even if it’s just for half an hour, she emphasizes taking a break from work and looking after herself.
Yahoo’s CEO has a similar ritual: taking a break from her 130 hour work week to bake cupcakes; though, she keeps track of this on a spreadsheet.
Oprah Winfrey, who is, well, she’s Oprah Winfrey, insists that meditation has been key to her mental health. “It’s a heightened state of being that lets whatever you’re doing be your best life, from moment to astonishing moment.”
Whether it’s a weekly baking session or meditation in the morning, there are many simple ways you can begin integrating self-care into your daily life. Acts that nourish your body like daily exercise, eating a balanced and healthy diet, and making sleep a priority are good ways to start.
If you’re not ready to completely rearrange your schedule and revamp your habits, there are some less committal self-care tactics, like Saujani’s suggestion of making “me time” in your daily routine.
Other ideas are developing hobbies that promote creativity and relaxation, trying to live in the moment, and learning how and when to say ‘no’ (this one will go much further than you think).
Looking after yourself in the moment is a long-term investment. If you get eight hours of sleep tonight, you’ll have the energy to be creative and enthusiastic tomorrow, ultimately achieving more. If you go on a run before work, you’ll have a strong body that can power you through the day and make you feel accomplished. If you eat a big, healthy lunch, you’ll feel a second wind that pushes you into the night.
It’s not selfish to take a little extra time to pack healthy snacks or spend an hour at the gym. In some ways, it’s selfish not to. Otherwise, you may crash — and then you’ll really be letting down the people around you.