Ever have one of those days (or weeks, or months…) where you feel completely overwhelmed and uninspired? The kind of day where even the sweetest person on the planet can piss you off? The kind of day where you’re zapped of all motivation and feel like nothing can put you in a better mood?
[Looks around, raises hand.] I’ve been in this boat more times than I can count, as have many of my clients. And the knee-jerk response? More work! Figure out the problem, create an action plan, and download a zillion self-help books. Right? Wrong.
Moods like this are a nudge from your soul that your spirit needs some serious TLC. And in order to give it that, you have to slow down, take a deep breath, and turn away from your to-do list. When I feel like this, I ask myself, What have you done for you lately? (Sung to the tune of Janet Jackson, of course!) I take stock of the last time I took a bubble bath, or had a massage, or sipped a green juice, or even took ten minutes to meditate. Every time, I come up short. And every time, I realize that my lack of self care has not only tanked my mood; it's tanked my productivity.
When I launched my life-coaching practice a few years ago, I was still working at my full-time job at MTV. I was newly married, managing a team of 20 people, and desperately trying to keep it all together. My evenings and weekends were dedicated to taking on clients, while I juggled my day job five days a week. My commute was exhausting and my husband and I could never seem to find time to book a date night. Self care? Ha! I was dead last on my to-do list.
I stopped working out, started grabbing take-out constantly, and eventually found myself in a very bad place. I was drained, unhealthy, and cranky all the time. The one thing I wanted so badly—to grow a successful business that taught women how to live better— was slipping out of my hands. I felt like a fraud. How could I teach my clients to think positively and take care of themselves when I wasn’t walking my walk?
At that point, I knew I had to make myself my number one client. I put a virtual “Out of Office” sign on my website and took a brief hiatus to get my sh*t together. This was nerve-wracking as a brand new business owner, but I knew I needed to make myself a priority if I wanted to be of any use to anyone else. It’s that cliché, put on your oxygen mask first. But here’s the thing: The cliché is so well known because it works. You’ve got to put yourself first to survive, let alone thrive, so you can reach your dreams and help others do so, too.
I made a six-month plan to feel better. I started working out regularly—even if that just included taking long walks. I swapped pizza and Chinese food for home-cooked, healthy meals. I restructured my sleep schedule. And I made date nights with myself a priority. I made time for my husband, of course, but I also made sure I took myself on a date at least once a week. And I mean a date. I’d sit down solo at a nice bar for a glass of champagne, or journal at lunch in a restaurant I loved. All these moves gave me the reboot I needed to feel better, and ultimately, work better.
I challenge you to check in on your self-care this week. Have you been dedicating enough time to making sure your needs are met? Are you getting enough sleep? What’s your nutrition like? Are you meditating—or at least spending some time alone with your thoughts? Have you indulged in something just for you? These are just a few questions to ask yourself, and answer honestly.
And if you’re feeling burnt out, but feel indulgent for taking time for yourself, I want you to know how important your self-care is to your success. In fact, I have come to believe that sometimes your downtime is more important than your productive time.