If you're reading this, you probably don't need to be told that there's more to life than work – you already know it! Overwork and burnout are common among leaders and entrepreneurs who must maintain high productivity levels over long hours. According to a report from Global Leadership Forecast 2021, 60% of leaders reported feeling overwhelmed at the end of the day. Moreover, only 20% thought they were doing a good job leading virtually. Understanding the importance of good mental health can be difficult when leaders have limited time for these activities. Hence, here are some mental well-being tips every leader should cultivate in the long run.
Balancing well-being with productivity
Self-care can often take a backseat to your duties as an entrepreneur or leader. As a leader, you're tasked with ensuring that everything gets done in your business. That means it's easy to forget about taking care of yourself in the process.
With the pandemic at our doorstep, all leaders are overworked, overstretched, and feel like they have no free time at all (let alone time to take care of themselves). While this is a great time to be a more humane leader; how can you do that when you can't stop thinking about your to-do list and keep putting off self-care because you're too busy with work?
The fact is, you are not a bad leader if you stop for a moment and breathe. Mental health is an important issue, and you can't take care of your employees if you are not taking care of yourself. Moreover, even the best CEOs in the world find time for self-care.
The truth is that if you don't invest time and energy into self-care and don't follow any well-being tips, you won't be able to do your best work or achieve your goals. Without taking care of YOU, you'll lose your passion and drive to continue doing great work. So it's worth making time in your schedule for well-being practices that will make you happier and healthier.
Why is it important for leaders to focus on self-care?
Have you ever worked with someone who is low on energy or is just plain grumpy? You likely attributed their demeanor to a rough week, personal issues, or any number of things that have nothing to do with work.
However, grumpiness or negativity is actually a sign of someone struggling with a lack of self-care. This is not just an issue affecting individuals but also leadership teams and entire organisations as well. Self-care is one of the most essential well-being tips for leaders.
When you put other people's needs above your own and don't prioritise self-care, everyone suffers—including yourself. Everything starts by accepting that, as humans, we're perfectly imperfect. Self-caring helps improve how you lead yourself, which impacts the ability to lead others.
Self-caring is about nurturing yourself and managing your life to prevent stress, anxiety, and exhaustion from sabotaging both your personal and professional life.
How you treat yourself today impacts how you will lead others tomorrow. If you don't practice self-care today, how can you properly lead others? If you want to be a great leader who inspires trust and commitment, employees need to see you practising self-care regularly.
The challenge is that, according to a Deloitte report, only 22% of line leaders were trained on the subject of mental health. In the present, as we come close to the end of 2021, we must still remind people that self-care is not a luxury. It is a necessity in any business environment.
Four well-being tips for leaders during stressful times
It can be challenging to carve out even small blocks of time to focus on your own well-being when you're leading a team. Let alone take steps toward cultivating a sense of well-being in other areas of your life. Luckily, there are several well-being tips you can use to squeeze in some much-needed self-care during your hectic day.
1- Exercises to make you more focused
Studies have shown that short bursts of exercise can actually boost focus and concentration for hours after a workout is over. Physical activity also releases chemicals called endorphins, which improve mood and make you feel better overall (and more pleasant to be around).
You can take a walk around your office building, do some jumping jacks during a conference call, or even just walk upstairs and downstairs. These well-being tips for leaders can do wonders for your focus and help you combat fatigue.
To increase your productivity, look at other ways you can add exercise into your schedule (even if it's only 15 minutes at lunch). This way, you don't burn out from overexertion, especially if your work activities already keep you moving throughout the day.
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2- Take care of your physical health
Ensure that you get adequate sleep, physical activity, and nutrition to keep your body at its best. This way, you can be your best mentally and emotionally in all you do. Most of us know what it's like to be tired or hungry.
Still, few of us truly know what it's like to be well-rested. So, try taking a day off of work or exercise; you'll see how much better (and easier) being well-rested and improving your sleep is.
I also recommend waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual to give yourself some quiet time with no distractions. You'll feel more refreshed and in the present by setting aside just a few moments before starting your official morning routine.
3- Don't put too much pressure on yourself or others
One of your biggest goals as a leader is to instill confidence in your team members. That said, it's important not to put too much pressure on yourself or others. You will get better at giving recognition and praise when you do it more often.
Setting goals is a helpful way to structure what can otherwise be an ambiguous process. But, don't be afraid to let your priorities change over time as you learn from experience. Getting clear about what matters most will help keep you focused, motivated, and engaged in both your personal life and professional endeavours.
4- Take breaks every once in a while
It's essential to take breaks from your daily routine, even if it's just a few minutes to go outside and get some fresh air or read a book. Working nonstop can easily lead to mental exhaustion, so give yourself some downtime!
Well-being practices like mindfulness have become popular in recent years. These practices can have real benefits for productivity in your role as a leader by helping you stay focused and de-stressed.
Think of setting aside time each day (even if it's just five minutes) when you won't respond to emails or phone calls from colleagues, clients, or customers. That way, you can focus exclusively on your own well-being—and then write down what works best for you!
As a leader, you have to take care of yourself first to serve your team effectively; there is no getting around that fact. This list offers some well-being tips for self-care among leaders.
Which ones will be most helpful in your situation? Identify one or two ideas that seem like a good fit and try them out over the next week or so. If they're effective, keep doing them; if not, experiment with something else.