13 February 2022

Why Self-Care Is a Leadership Skill—and How to Do More of It in Your Life

When you become a leader, a wave of joy and determination floods over you. You feel responsible for these people that believe in you—and you feel responsible to do your very best to not let them down. As an ambitious woman, that motivates you.

But the question is: are you losing yourself in the process?

Let’s explore that.

Shattering the myths around self-care in leadership

If you’re anything like I used to be when I first became a leader, you have this mental image of a leader, “the captain that saves themselves last”, that can’t slow down until all the fires are put out—and let’s be honest, they’re hardly ever put out.

That’s not working anymore. And neither are these old myths around self-care in leadership.

“It’s not that important for my health”

Self-care is literally essential for your health—emotional AND physical.

If you don’t slow down and recharge once in a while, you’ll push your body and mind into burnout.

I know, for many of us that wear busyness as a badge of honour, finding time for things that don’t seem “productive” is hard. But rest isn’t earned, it’s a must for you and your team’s wellbeing.

“It doesn’t help my performance”

Stress and exhaustion affect your decision-making and problem-solving. The physical and emotional response you have to stress ultimately inhibits your ability to make good decisions, think clearly and strategically, and come up with creative ideas.

On the other hand, if you’re relaxed and in a positive emotional state (like you can be after self-care practices), you’re able to think more innovatively for a better result.

Therefore, practicing self-care means you can perform better as a leader.

“My team will think I’m lazy”

During the first stages of the pandemic, my corporate job allowed me and my team to work from home. As the business was in survival mode, I was working super long hours, getting burned out and stressed while trying to keep my team afloat during uncertain times.

I felt terrible.

Luckily, I was able to see that and started carving out time for myself—to go on a walk, to take breaks. I knew I had to support myself before I could support my team.

One day, I opened up to them. I told them I was having a hard time.

The result? They opened up to me right back. They confessed they were struggling too, and that it was so reassuring for them to know that none of us was alone. We connected more, which made us stronger as a team.

What does self-care look like?

Sit and reflect for 10 minutes every day

I’m starting with this one because every good leader needs to get to know herself.

This is where the concept of self-leadership comes in.

Before you can lead a team, it’s important to know who you are, what your goals are, your values and desires, why you chose those, and how you’re going to guide yourself towards them (and implicitly, guide yourself away from your current situation).

Lead yourself so you can lead everyone else better.

Set boundaries

Yes, setting boundaries is self care.

The most important boundaries you have to set are with yourself. No more answering emails during lunch, no more skipping yoga classes to help someone, no more working at 10 p.m.

Let people know what your non-negotiables are, and try to accept nothing less.

Create your own practices

I could spend days talking about different self-care practices… But the truth is, none of it will matter if it’s not what YOU want for yourself.

What puts a smile on your face? What makes you feel relaxed? Energised? Happy?

Do more of that. Nurture yourself by doing your favourite activities, even for a few minutes every day.

And since we’re here, let me suggest a few that might spark your interest:

  • Mindfulness practices (I have an entire blog post about it),
  • Journaling - write whatever you want, but clear your mind. You can always use prompts as well.
  • Time blocking - block time in your calendar (literally mark it in your calendar) for YOU, and let nobody interrupt it.
  • Walking in nature to take in some fresh air.
  • Quality time with people that boost your energy, not consume it.

Final thoughts

Rest, self-care practices, time to just be—these are not something you earn. You don’t have to do anything so you can be worthy of taking time away from everything, to check in with yourself.

They’re crucial, non-negotiable, and 100% a prerequisite for a good performance as a leader.

And here’s the most important thing: start small. Do small things consistently, and the changes will amaze you.

Sometimes we need a reminder that we need to put ourselves first consistently. If you want that straight to your inbox, join my email list. I share my best tips and stories with my community of female leaders there.

Jeni Carroll

As a certified life coach, Jeni helps busy, successful women ditch overwhelm & selfdoubt & rediscover their energy, passion & freedom with proven strategies.

Ready to ditch the overwhelm and self-doubt? Start your transformation now.