When hearing the term self-care, you might immediately envision a luxurious spa day spent lounging in a fluffy, oversized robe, with a facial mask and foot massage. As a busy business owner, you’re probably thinking, “Who has time for that?” And while this is definitely an example of self-care, it’s not the only way, sis. There are plenty of ways to implement daily self-care that are more practical and easier on your already packed schedule but will also relieve the stress you’re starting to feel.
The definition of self-care is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. To put it simply, self-care is… drumroll please… taking care of yourself.
As an entrepreneur, taking care of yourself easily becomes (and often) the last on a list of never-ending to-do’s. Especially if you also work at home, the balance between work and life can often become skewed or even nonexistent. You find yourself pounding away at the keyboard far after the “office hours” you set for yourself, sometimes until the early morning hours. This is a one-way street to Burnout Boulevard.
As the saying goes, “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. When you are healthy and thriving, the success and growth of your business are natural because your body and mind are operating in optimal conditions. Your work is better, and being creative and productive becomes easier.
Try out a few of these approachable strategies to bake self-care into your everyday routine.
I know this is super simple and seems obvious to some of us, but let’s keep it real. Many of us have hopped up in the morning and headed straight to the computer with an idea that came to us overnight. Convinced that this brainchild needs immediate documentation and research, you end up hunched over the keyboard for hours, hammering out all of the details. Then you check and respond to an email here and there…start on your to-do list for the day…scan the New York Times…scroll IG for a few minutes. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I mean, I’m already at the computer. Might as well get a few more things done.”
The next thing you know, 5 hours have passed and you’re still in your PJs with morning breath in the afternoon.
My advice is to never skip your morning shower and changing into a different set of clothes. I’m not saying that you have to put on a business-casual office wear to sit around the house (unless you want to!) but even slipping into a clean pair of sweats and a relaxed top after a shower feels refreshing and marks the start of a new day. You’ll feel better about yourself and more prepared to take on your goals!
Whether it’s journaling, a walk around the block, or reading a chapter or two of a fiction (or at least non-business related) book, make sure you find time to do something that you enjoy every day. Preferably, make it something that gets you away from your computer, phone, or TV screen!
Technology has become such an integral part of our everyday lives that we often forget that the hours we rack up in front of these screens can wreak havoc on our eyes and even our overall body when sitting in the same position for too long.
Make your me-time a part of your everyday routine, even if it’s only adding a few extra minutes to normal things you do like skin routine or makeup.
When you run your own business, it can be easy to blame yourself every time something doesn’t go as planned. But instead of focusing on all the marks you may have missed today, shift to self-love, grace, and kindness towards yourself.
It’s important to recognize that you are only human and it is normal to not get everything checked off of your list, every single day. Sometimes a meeting with a client may not go the way you want it to. You may wake up under the weather and need to take time off to take care of yourself.
If so, don’t punish yourself for these things. Instead of asking yourself “Why didn’t I get this done?” or saying “I should be so much further along than this!”, take the time to look back at all the things you HAVE done on this entrepreneurial journey. If you keep track of things in a journal or planner, this can be as easy as flipping through the pages of the last few months. There’s sure to be more there than you’ve likely acknowledged.
Practice positive self-talk. Say things to yourself like, “I acknowledge that I am behind on some things, but I am only one person with a set amount of hours for work each day. I am doing hard things! I am doing my best, and I feel great about that.”
No doubt you will have requests for meetings, collaborations, and partnerships. It’s important to remember that while these types of opportunities can be great and positive for your business, they can also harm the growth of your business by depleting your resources and time.
Any work time spent away from your core business goals should be vetted carefully and managed thoughtfully. You are only one person and your time is limited. You will have to say no to some opportunities, even if they do sound amazing.
When you receive these opportunities, carefully consider the time investment, your coinciding schedule, and the potential benefits and outcomes concerning your business. Basically, perform a cost-benefit analysis. This should help you determine whether this is an opportunity you want to engage or gracefully decline.
Not feeling like you’re making enough progress daily is common. One life hack for eliminating this is using “theme days”. Theme days are days where you focus on one or more tasks that are centered on a theme. For example, Wednesdays are my “blogging” days. I spend Wednesdays completing all the tasks involved with writing for my blog – brainstorming topics and headlines, researching, outlining, writing, editing, etc.
By focusing on one theme or task, your goals for each day become simplified and more clear. It also helps your mindset to see major progress being made in one area of your business instead of working in several areas and seeing minimal progress, if any. When focusing on multiple tasks daily, I often felt like I’d done nothing at the end of the day because I usually couldn’t look back and say that I really “finished” anything.
As an entrepreneur, it can be easy to slip into a mindset that no one cares about your business the way you do, so you must do everything yourself to make sure it’s right and perfect as you’ve envisioned. To an extent, this is true. Likely no one will love your business as much as you do. But this doesn’t mean that others aren’t capable of taking on tasks for you and doing a great job!
My advice is to start delegating BEFORE you start feeling overwhelmed. Likely by the time you are overwhelmed, you probably needed to seek assistance long before.
Sit down & make a list of the tasks in your business that you love doing and that you are great at. This is your zone of genius. These are the things you want to keep on your plate. Then make another list of all the responsibilities that are left and decide which ones you’re okay with letting go of.
You can take things slowly by choosing only one or two small tasks to delegate to a contracted virtual assistant. This way, you can gauge whether or not the assistant’s work is up to par with your expectations before you’ve invested too much time, money, and access to different tools/passwords/etc.
Create break activities that get you out of the house at least once a day. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. Even 15 minutes of a little sunshine and fresh air can significantly boost your mood and outlook for the day.
Make a stroll around the block as part of a mid-morning break or lunch break. It can give you something to look forward to and a change of scenery, which is great since we have seen too much of the inside of our homes over these past several months than we ever had before.
Be sure to keep track of your wins (no matter how small) daily. A great way to do this is by adding notes to your planner or your digital calendar. My Passion Planner makes this easy as there are daily sections for “Best Thing That Happened” and “Today I Learned”. At the end of the week, look back at your accomplishments to see how far you’ve come, and then reward yourself accordingly! As a company of one, there may often be no one else around to celebrate you— but that doesn’t mean a celebration shouldn’t happen!
Large companies often reward employees to improve morale and encourage high performance and they continue to do so because it works! You should always do the same for yourself. When you create goals for yourself and your business, make sure to also plan out the reward. It can be as small as an ice cream cone at lunch, or a new pair of earrings you’ve been obsessing over. Acknowledging the win and rewarding yourself is the key!
The life of a solopreneur can get lonely. Especially if you previously worked a typical 9-5 and are used to a buzzing office atmosphere. Having the support of coworkers to problem solve, brainstorm, commiserate, and celebrate is amazing in that environment. Once you decide to go out on your own, you may be longing for that office camaraderie you left behind.
The good news is there are several online spaces full of solo business owners just like you and me who are also looking for the support of a community and business pals. Having friends that are also business owners, especially if they’re in the same field, can be invaluable. Talking to people who get what you’re going through and can offer sound, experience-based advice is not only helpful but also feels great and relieves stress!
While your family and current friends are amazing and love you, they probably don’t get what you’re going through as a business owner if they’re not one themselves. And that’s okay! Having a set of business buddies that you can strategize and problem solve with can take the pressure off of your other relationships. You’ll have someone to talk business with, which will likely cause you to bring it up less with your other friends. And your non-business buds will no longer feel obligated to try to figure out your industry jargon to understand what you’re even saying when you launch into business talk. Wins all around!
As you can see, there are many small ways to incorporate self-care into your everyday life that don’t involve a spa appointment— but those are nice to indulge in too, so don’t write them off, sis!
Which of these tips will you be adding to your daily routine? Are you already doing any of them? Let me know in the comments.