Self-Care for Women Leaders

Self-care is important now more than ever for women leaders.  We have to put on our oxygen masks before we can put on the oxygen masks of others.

At Pivot Point, we believe that wellness is defined as our ability to make conscious choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.  Based on our research with every day women leaders and women in business, we have summarized our findings for women looking for ideas for their own personal wellness plans.

After copious research, and dozens of workshops with women leaders focused on their personal wellness, we believe that there are three key areas to improving your personal wellness plan, and it all starts with your purpose.  First, start with:

1) Knowing your why (and saying no to things not aligned with your why)

2) Then, giving to others through compassion (giving to give)

3) Followed by, prioritizing sleep (yes, sleep)

Let’s start with your WHY by asking yourself these questions…

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days?
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at?
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life?

You may be asking, what does this have to do with wellness?  I have found in my work with women, that our choices must be aligned with our personal wellness.  We cannot be happy if we are busy trying to make everyone else happy around us.

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I often remind women of this by saying, “when we say ‘yes’ to something, we are in essence saying ‘no’ to something else.” That’s why it is critical to say no to the tasks, goals, and people that are not aligned with your why.  Time is finite, and how we choose to spend it is critical.  It must be aligned with areas that we have unique strengths, passions, and that are best suited to make the most positive impact.  To spend our time on tasks or goals that do not propel our purpose is a futile effort.

Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 rule, is useful in business, as well as usual in life.  We should be spending 80% of our time on the 20% that is most crucial that is aligned with our why.  If your balance looks more like a teeter totter, and is 20/80, how can you choose more activities aligned with your why?  Keep a mental inventory of the teeter totter, some days may skew the other direction, and if that trend continues, reign it in using your why to guide you.

I find it helpful to remind the women I coach that you can only make others as happy as you are yourself.  You need to keep your tank full yourself to be able to help the others around you.  You are only as good for others are you are for yourself.  How can you be expected to be make others happy when you are unhappy yourself?

Studies show that women are actually better at negotiating on others’ behalves.  I channel those I care about most when I need to say no or make a tough choice.  I think of my daughter, husband, and clients and negotiate for them, rather than myself.  I find it’s easier to fight for them and ask for what I want to be successful.

Giving to others through compassion (giving to give)

Aligning our why means giving to give aligned with our why.  In the article, The Surprising Link Between Compassion and Success,” the authors outline the importance of giving and its remarkable ties to success.  Given two individuals with equivalent talent and skills, the more compassionate one is far more likely to be promoted.  It is a differentiator.

Yet, it is critical to give strategically.  One of my leadership crushes, Adam Grant, explains that “givers” (people who care about others’ well-being and look out for their colleagues and employees) are often the most successful in his amazing read, Give and Take.  It turns out that givers are more liked, so they have more influence. The difference between successful and unsuccessful givers often comes down to strategy: when givers learn strategies that prevent others from taking advantage of them, their “nice” qualities end up helping them succeed above and beyond anyone else.  They build trust and reciprocity.

It feels good to give.  Those that are true givers, just give to give.  Give not to get, but just to give.  It creates positive karma and the giver often feels more benefits as a result of the interaction.  People sense when you are giving to get and do not trust.  The truth is the giver often benefits more than the receiver as they feel good as a result of the give, thus boosting wellness and overall morale.

Align your gives with your why.  Know your most effective gives based on your strengths, passions, skills and wills, and align your gives with advice, connections, mentorship, money, time, etc. that best fit your purpose.

Prioritizing sleep (yes, sleep)

This brings us to sleep.  For nearly all human adults, we need 7 hours of sleep a night.  In Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution, she outlines how most of us are not getting this vital requirement and how it impacts our productivity, quality, and decision making on the job.  The fact that we brag about getting sleep when we are dead is a mistake.

The dreaded FOMO – fear of missing out – drives us to keep our devices in hand and on our bed stands, interrupting our sleep.  In fact, the blue screen decreases our melatonin levels, a key ingredient for effective sleep.  When we get less than 4 hours of sleep, we have the blood alcohol level of 0.1.  We’re literally like a drunk person making decisions.  Often, our false sense of urgency drives us to make decisions that negatively impacts our wellness.  That’s why it is critical given our finite amount of time, that we align our choices with our why.  To make time for sufficient sleep and wellness, we may choose to ask who else is best to do the task, and that is not always ourselves.

My biggest sleep challenge is the negative self-talk that kicks in at 4am when I am stressed or nervous about an upcoming event.  Based on Huffington and others’ research, I have learned deep breathing techniques, positive affirmation self-talk exercises, and journaling all that is on my mind at the moment to release it, calming my nerves to gain my precious sleep time.  Being an 8-hour a night sleep kind of gal, sleep is precious for me.  I feel a difference the next day, with lower productivity and quality.  As a trainer and coach that needs to be “on” all day, I prioritize sleep, knowing how crucial it is to my performance.

If you enjoyed this blog, please register for our complimentary online workshop Women’s Wellness Strategies June 1 @ 11am ET.  We’ll elaborate on these proven practices, and share stories of women that have implemented these techniques.  You will walk away having all of the tools to improve your personal wellness.

Those that align their why, give to give, and prioritize sleep, have sustainable wellness plans.  How will you commit to improving your personal wellness?