Prioritizing Self-Care In Stressful Times by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

A critical aspect of successful leaders is the understanding that they have to take care of themselves. They find ways to engage in their favorite activities, spend time with family and friends, and ensure they have time built into their life to relax, unwind, and recharge both emotionally as well as physically.

In times of stress, change, and uncertainty, leaders often feel the need to take on more responsibility. However, taking on more responsibility means greater emotional, mental, and physical demands, including longer hours, more meetings, and often greater isolation.

There are ways to build self-care into your daily routine. Here are few strategies to consider to help you in saying in a mentally and physically healthy space even in times of crisis and stress:

  • Physical activity – there is a significant body of research around the benefits of physical activity in reducing stress hormones in the body. In addition, moderate intensity exercises such as jogging or running, brisk walks, swimming or other similar activities can trigger the release of endorphins, the feel good chemicals in the brain. These chemicals not only boost your mood, but they are highly effective at reducing stress levels in the body.
  • Go outside during the day – getting out of the office or the building and walking, sitting, or just reading a good book in the outdoors helps to boost oxygen levels in the body and release stress.
  • Eat a balanced diet – you don’t have to diet, but you should try to avoid processed, salty, sugary, or high carbohydrate foods. These foods can impact hormone levels and blood sugar levels in the body that are linked to several chronic health conditions. Simple changes include switching white bread and pasta for whole grain varieties and eating lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats.
  • Spend time with friends and family – positive interpersonal relationships are a built-in support network. People who are isolated are more likely to have issues with depression and anxiety. Plan to spend time every day connecting, even virtually, with those who are important to you.
  • Do something joyful – what do you enjoy that always makes you smile? Is it watching funny cat videos on YouTube or dancing to your favorite song in the living room? No matter what it is, make it a point to do something that brings you happiness every day.
  • Random acts of kindness – people who focus on doing something great for someone else are less stressed and more connected. Take the time to give a colleague a compliment, send a card, or hold a door open for someone else and you will be surprised at how you feel.

Finally, be willing and able to delegate. In any organization there are people that are willing to help – all they need is to be asked.