Fits into every diary: self-care

Guest contribution by | 12.02.2024

Make an appointment with yourself!

The world of work is moving ever faster: New Work, agile working, GenZ, home office… All of this places high demands on managers and employees. For some years now, I have observed a strong desire, especially among women in management positions, for more time for themselves, for self-care and less stress.

When was the last time you consciously took time for yourself?

Do you find it easy to recognise and fulfil your own needs, set boundaries and say no or simply do nothing?

Even thinking about this is an act of self-care.

Self-care is highly individual, diverse and multi-faceted. It does not thrive on comparison with others and has no standard. Understanding this is the first important step towards inner peace and well-being.

Self-care means different things to different people.
What does self-care mean to you?

If you manage to build a window of time for self-care into your hectic daily life, you will be rewarded with self-confidence, self-awareness, clarity, courage, creativity, energy, inner peace and well-being.

Self-care is a major challenge, especially for women in management positions. It is a balancing act between career ambitions, family, social obligations and leisure activities. On the one hand, there is the demanding job, the great responsibility and the high expectations of superiors and employees. On the other hand, there is private life. Then there are the high demands placed on oneself, the striving for perfection and the fear of not measuring up.

Self-care is not a “nice to have” – it is a “must have”. Consistent self-care enables you as a manager to take on challenges, radically accept them and from there find a reflective way of dealing with them – far away from worries, doubts and fears, but with inner strength. In my view, self-care is one of the core competences of every leader, enabling them to lead themselves and others in a healthy and clear way.

When I talk to women about self-care, sport, healthy eating or routines, rituals and habits in connection with their leadership role, they often wave it off. They say that they wish they could do it, but that they can’t do it. First work, then family, then others, then nothing for a while and then?

“When …”

Perhaps these sentences sound familiar to you?

  • When the children are grown up, I’ll finally have time for myself.
  • When I have the professional phase behind me, then I’ll sign up for yoga.
  • When I’ve achieved my goals, I’ll take care of my needs.
  • When I have completed my doctorate, then I can eat healthily.
  • When I have saved enough money, then I invest in my health.
  • When the point is right, then I’ll have the difficult conversation.
  • When I have less stress, my relationship gets better.
  • When I’m done with this or that, then I can finally go on holiday.
  • When I’m retired, then I’ll travel the world.

Such if-then beliefs make us dependent on external conditions and other people. They force us to seek health, happiness, success, well-being and inner peace on the outside. And they rob us of the time we could free up for ourselves.

We find none of this on the outside. We need to change direction and look inwards. Everything we need for authentic, empathetic and assertive leadership is available in abundance there.

But it takes a lot of courage to take this look inwards and get involved. It takes a deeper sense of purpose, an alert mind, a strong inner centre, mental and physical health. It also requires letting go of perfectionism and the power-obsessed ego.

Self-care as a holistic approach to leadership

I understand self-care as a holistic leadership approach – as the basis for professional success and a personalised leadership style.

You don’t learn this kind of inner dialogue at school, and yet it is fundamentally important for a successful and meaningful life that encompasses career and family in equal measure.

I am firmly convinced that the key to a successful and fulfilling career as a woman in all her roles lies in how she deals with herself, her thoughts, feelings and challenges. You don’t need anyone from the outside to recognise this. Just the willingness to look and take time for yourself. That in itself is self-care.

Say goodbye to your personal if-then sentences and accept that self-care is not a luxury or wellness. It is not expensive and does not require a lot of time. It just needs your willingness to put yourself first.

If you are in a hurry, go slowly. If you are in an even greater hurry, take a diversion.

This Chinese wisdom sums it up.

To invest more time in self-care, it makes sense to break away from the traditional concept of time. It’s not about the time of day or how much time you spend on yourself. It’s about quality moments that are yours alone. These can be a few minutes or a whole weekend. How you spend your time with yourself is up to you, no one else.

Many women say this is too self-centred and self-absorbed. To reflect on this conditioned thought, I suggest a simple change of perspective: Imagine you are on an aeroplane and suddenly the oxygen masks fall from the compartment above you. What do you do? You know the answer.

If you want to do a good job, if you want to lead with your heart and soul without spinning out of control in the hamster wheel of success, then allow yourself this space of self-care. Success, satisfaction and well-being will not come if you are overwhelmed and constantly fulfilling the expectations of others. You can’t think clearly or make smart decisions under stress. You need inner calm when the storm is raging outside. You guessed it: success, satisfaction and well-being only come from within yourself.

Self-care is …

Self-care is the conscious action of recognising and meeting mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The intention is to nourish and nurture yourself so that you can face all challenges clearly, powerfully and energetically, regardless of their level of difficulty.

Nourishing yourself on a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual level has an enormously positive effect on your own self-perception. Self-care is part of a holistic approach to health that goes far beyond mere self-care. It is a profound practice that promotes self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love and plays an essential role in the overall quality of life and work. As it is highly individualised, it fits into any daily routine. You decide which practices you want to use and how much time you want to invest in yourself.

Leadership success and self-care?

Many managers believe that leadership success and self-care are mutually exclusive. Success has to be hard-earned and there is little room for self-care. I see it differently: self-care means the unconditional willingness to deal with yourself every day and stay on the ball. This can be very uncomfortable, but it is a very rewarding process.

Yes, dealing with your own thoughts, feelings, fears, doubts, beliefs and the resulting actions takes time and energy. But if we are not prepared to invest this time and energy in ourselves, leadership can become increasingly stressful and challenging. My years of experience as a woman in leadership and as a leadership coach show that women often ignore their own needs, conform to the system, set little to no boundaries and tend to fulfil the expectations of others – for many years.

We all have 1,440 minutes a day, 24 hours a day.
The question is: how and for what do you use this time?

Invest courageously in yourself! Make regular appointments with yourself and block these times in your diary. Start with a few minutes for a walk, write down your thoughts, do a breathing exercise or read something unrelated.

You won’t lose any time, but will gain a little more of it back every day. You will gain time for clarity, focus and creativity. You will spend less and less time with negative thoughts, fears and doubts. You will find strength within yourself again – regardless of the opinions and expectations of others.

Allow yourself self-care in all areas of your life!

Personally, I no longer have the energy or desire to rebel against myself. My decision for 2024 is: I am my first priority!

My intention: I feel good about everything I do.

I allow myself to take care of myself in all areas of life. If I neglect myself, I am dissatisfied, irritable, impatient, difficult, bad-tempered. I am then not at my best, which leads to a drop in performance and concentration and significantly reduces my efficiency. Leadership is difficult in such a mood.

Self-care is a daily appointment with yourself! It should suit you and your life. But don’t make a science out of it.

Time is precious and irretrievable. That’s why you should consciously and regularly schedule small time slots for rituals, routines and habits that suit your life.

  • Conscious eating is self-care.
  • A moment of silence.
  • Breathe in and out deeply.
  • Twenty minutes of yoga.
  • Writing thoughts in your diary.
  • A short walk.
  • An intensive conversation with a trusted person.
  • A conscious connection with everything that is.

Just try out what does you good.

 

Notes:

This article is the first in a multi-part series by Janine Tychsen on the topic of “Self-care for women in management positions”. After the basics in this article, the following articles will focus, for example, on coaching tools that you can easily integrate into your professional and private life.

If you like the article or would like to discuss it, please feel free to share it with your network.

Are you interested in self-care as a foundation for success? Then it’s worth taking a look at the “Self Care 4 Success” coaching programme.

Janine Tychsen has published further articles on the t2informatik Blog:

t2informatik Blog: Inner Work – The confrontation with oneself

Inner Work – The confrontation with oneself

t2informatik Blog: From executive to leadership personality

From executive to leadership personality

Janine Tychsen

Janine Tychsen

Janine Tychsen has been training and coaching women in leadership positions in administration, business and science organisations for many years.

Her mission: to inspire women for leadership and encourage them to lead self-determined, creatively and with inner strength.

Her motto: Women, take the lead! From leadership to leadership personality to leading as a role model.

Ms Tychsen works with women on their leadership and communication skills, their attitude to leadership, their inner attitude and on the demands and challenges placed on women in leadership (such as dealing with employees, conflict and crisis management, organising work and time, difficult conversations and decisions, dealing with refusals to work, etc.).