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Why Self-care Can't Fix Stress

Self-care can't fix stress

Self-care at work is serious business. It also has been treated historically as a nice little afterthought. It is nothing of the sort.


In entrepreneurship and business, overlooking ongoing, regular self-care can lead to dire consequences, both for individuals and for the success of their ventures. But what is “regular” self-care? How can we do that when the heat is on the perform at ever-increasing levels? To even suggest self-care under those circumstances sounds ridiculously naïve.


Contrary to popular belief, self-care isn't just a luxury reserved for after we've burnt ourselves out; it's an ongoing practice essential for maintaining our energy levels and ensuring long-term sustainability. As entrepreneurs and business leaders, prioritizing self-care isn't just about indulging in occasional treats; it's about adopting a holistic approach to managing our well-being, both personally and professionally.


Take Tara, for instance. She's a dedicated manager who values the well-being of her team. She encourages them to go home early, take walks during lunch breaks, and prioritize self-care. However, despite her good intentions, Tara fails to recognize that her team is constantly overloaded with work. Urging them to take time off without addressing the underlying workload issues only adds to their stress. In this scenario, Tara's approach to self-care lacks depth and fails to consider the broader context of work-life balance and resource allocation.


Then there's Megan, a passionate entrepreneur eager to make her mark in the business world. Faced with limited resources and a tight financial runway, Megan throws herself into her work, taking on multiple roles and responsibilities single-handedly. She works long hours, networks tirelessly, and handles everything from marketing to project management. However, as time goes on, Megan begins to feel the strain of her relentless apprach. Despite her best efforts, she finds herself falling behind, delivering sub-par work, and undercharging for her services in a desperate bid to secure more clients. What Megan fails to realize is that her poor self-care practices are not only taking a toll on her well-being but also undermining her brand and long-term success.


These examples highlight the critical importance of embracing a comprehensive approach to self-care in the workplace. Not doing so causes attrition, illness, poor performance, low morale, and mental and emotional issues.


It's not just about encouraging occasional breaks or engaging in feel-good activities; it's about addressing the root causes of stress and burnout, fostering a culture of support and collaboration, and making strategic decisions that prioritize both personal well-being and professional success. By recognizing the interconnectedness of self-care and business performance, entrepreneurs and business leaders can build resilient, thriving organizations that prioritize the health and happiness of their most valuable asset: their people.


The Self-Care Approach to Time Management


Here's why integrating self-care into our daily routines is non-negotiable and a few practical ways to make it a priority:


  1. Strategic Planning for Personal Wellness: Just as we meticulously plan strategies for our businesses, we must develop comprehensive plans for our personal well-being. This includes setting realistic daily goals, scheduling regular breaks, and carving out time for activities that recharge us, whether it's meditation, exercise, or spending quality time with loved ones.


  1. Effective Time and Energy Management: Self-care involves being mindful of our energy levels and allocating our time and resources wisely. This means learning to say no to tasks that drain us and delegating responsibilities when necessary. By focusing on high-impact activities and eliminating unnecessary distractions, we can optimize our productivity and prevent burnout.


  1. Financial Health and Value Recognition: Acknowledging our worth and valuing our contributions is an integral part of self-care. Whether it's setting fair prices for our products or services, managing our finances responsibly, or planning for future growth, prioritizing financial health is essential for long-term success and stability.


  1. Proactive Conflict Resolution and Communication: Addressing conflicts and challenges head-on is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment. By fostering open and transparent communication channels and resolving conflicts promptly, we can prevent tension from escalating and maintain positive team dynamics.


  1. Mindful Work-Life Integration: Balancing work commitments with personal responsibilities is key to avoiding burnout and maintaining overall well-being. This involves setting boundaries, disconnecting from work during non-business hours, and making time for activities that bring us joy and fulfillment outside of work.


  1. Continuous Learning and Development: Investing in our personal and professional growth is a form of self-care that pays dividends in the long run. Whether it's attending workshops, seeking mentorship, or pursuing further education, prioritizing learning helps us stay ahead of the curve and adapt to evolving challenges in the business landscape.


Integrating Self-Care Under Intense Time Pressure


Shifting to true self-care, especially when it has been neglected, is neither simple nor easy. It requires a concerted effort and a willingness to prioritize well-being even when faced with demanding schedules and overwhelming workloads. To help Tara, Megan, and others like them prioritize self-care, here are some micro-actions and macro-actions they can implement:



  1. Implement Pomodoro Technique: Break down work into manageable chunks using the Pomodoro Technique (working for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break). Despite looming deadlines, these short breaks provide crucial moments of rest, boosting productivity and focus.

  2. Practice Mindful Breathing: Incorporate brief mindful breathing exercises during moments of stress or overwhelm. Even just a few deep breaths can activate the body's relaxation response, helping to calm the nervous system and improve mental clarity.

  3. Prioritize Tasks: Identify high-priority tasks and tackle them first, setting aside less urgent or non-essential tasks for later. This targeted approach allows individuals to focus their energy on what truly matters, even amidst a heavy workload.

  4. Delegate Urgent Tasks: If feasible, delegate urgent tasks to trusted colleagues or team members. Effective delegation not only lightens the load but also fosters collaboration and empowers others to take ownership of their responsibilities.

  5. Take Micro-Breaks: Incorporate micro-breaks throughout the day, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Use these breaks to stretch, take a quick walk, or simply step away from the screen to give the mind and body a much-needed rest.


  1. Normalize Breaks and Rest: Shift the culture around breaks and rest by normalizing the idea that pausing, even during busy periods, is essential for maintaining productivity and well-being. Encourage open dialogue about the importance of self-care and lead by example.

  2. Provide Resources for Stress Management: Offer resources and support for stress management, such as access to mindfulness apps, relaxation techniques, or stress reduction workshops. Equip individuals with tools to navigate intense workloads more effectively.

  3. Flexible Work Arrangements: Explore flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours or remote work options, to accommodate individual needs and preferences. Empower employees to create a work environment that supports their well-being while still meeting business objectives.

  4. Encourage Time Blocking: Encourage individuals to block out dedicated time for focused work, uninterrupted by meetings or distractions. By protecting these time blocks, individuals can optimize their productivity and minimize the need for overtime or late nights.

  5. Celebrate Rest as Productivity: Shift the narrative around productivity to include rest as a crucial component. Celebrate individuals who prioritize self-care and recognize the positive impact it has on their performance and overall well-being.

By acknowledging the intense pressure and workload individuals face, while still emphasizing the importance of self-care, these revised actions aim to provide practical strategies for navigating challenging circumstances with compassion and resilience. Through small, intentional actions and systemic changes, individuals and organizations can foster a culture that values both productivity and well-being, even in the face of adversity.

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