Do you work to live — or live to work?
This is a question that a lot of career-minded people grapple with. When you love your work, it’s easy to become obsessed with it. But, it’s also important to maintain a healthy balance. And that starts with self-care.
Self-care has been a bit of a buzzword recently, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people have found themselves working from home, and then having a tough time putting a hard stop on work. Others are in fields that have been particularly demanding during the pandemic, such as healthcare or information technology. And others are simply taking their extra time and putting it toward work.
CEOs are particularly susceptible to overworking, and COVID-19 hasn’t made it easy to disconnect. This can affect not just their well-being, but also their ability to lead, guide, and inspire.
Overworking isn’t just unhealthy for leaders — it can negatively impact their companies, too. If CEOs consistently put work over their own health, employees may feel the need to follow suit.
Here are 3 ways CEOs can — and should — practice self-care, with a few tips on how some CEOs (including our very own) make it a priority in their lives.
1. Start small, then build on your self-care routine.
When you run a company, there are a lot of people who need you. While you’re being pulled in different directions, it can seem downright impossible to make time for self-care.
Start small with your self-care. Do a 5-minute meditation session each morning, join an online workout class, or set aside 10 minutes to journal each evening.
Or, take after Founder and CEO of CareContent, Kadesha Thomas Smith, and do something simple — get some sleep. “I have realized that I am not in my 20s anymore. I cannot function at a high level on a low level of sleep. If I wake up and send my kids off to school and I don’t feel like I’ve gotten enough sleep, I will get back into bed,” she says.
Remember, if you’re one of the many CEOs now working from home, you might have extra time on your hands without having to commute anywhere. Munjal Shah, Cofounder and CEO of Health IQ says before COVID-19, he would have lost hours of his week to his commute. Now, he’s found more time — and more consistency — for workouts.
Take note of how each act of self-care makes you feel, and keep doing the ones that provide a noticeable benefit. Before you know it, you’ll have a routine that not only works, but works well for you.
2. Separate work from home — figuratively and literally.
If you’re working from home (or constantly taking the office back to your home), now’s the time to draw a line in the sand. Work and home need separation for both to thrive on their own.
Set aside a time, space, and even dress code for work. By dressing the part and going into a separate physical space, you can get into work mode. More importantly, you can leave work mode when your workday is over by leaving that space and dressing down.
Consider turning your email off for weekends (or a time that makes sense for your company), like CareContent’s CEO. “I turn off my work email Friday evening — and I don’t turn it back on until Sunday night or sometimes even Monday morning. I am tempted to check that email over the weekend, which could lead to work over the weekend, and that would not be giving myself a healthy break,” Kadesha explains.
Leave weekends and evenings for time with family, friends, and, of course, yourself. And encourage your employees to do the same, like Kim Lawton, Founder and CEO of Enthuse Marketing Group. Since the pandemic, she’s not only insisted that employees take frequent breaks, but she’s also encouraged them to end their workdays earlier to maintain a work-life balance.
3. Make self-care a work thing.
Great CEOs lead by example, and that includes with self-care. If you prioritize wellness in your daily schedule, your employees will know that’s not just acceptable, but encouraged.
CareContent’s CEO does this with exercise. “I consider my workouts sacred time. I work out four times a week, typically in the morning. That time is untouchable. I don’t schedule any meetings, I don’t have any tasks. All of my priorities orbit around that time for the day,” Kadesha says.
This act of self-care sets the tone at CareContent, and it’s become a part of our culture. As a result, it’s not uncommon for an employee to take a walk for a quick break during the workday or discuss their most recent workout achievement with a coworker over G-chat.
You can also make self-care a company-wide priority. For instance, Patrick Bardsley, CEO and Cofounder of Spectrum Designs, has begun offering mindfulness sessions during work hours to prioritize both mental and physical health. He emphasizes that there should be no stigma for taking care of either one.
Whether you start a wellness competition, set up a company-wide virtual workout program, or simply allow employees to talk a walk over their lunch break, there are plenty of ways to bring self-care into the office.
Self-Care Your Way To Success
Working endless hours might feel like you’re being productive, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Even as the head of a company, it’s important to take breaks and allow your brain time to process work and stimulate news ideas. This also makes work seem less tedious and overwhelming, putting you in a better mood (a win-win for everyone).
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance starts with self-care. By making self-care a priority — and encouraging your employees to do the same — everyone in your company benefits.