7 Ways to Self-Care for Small Business Owners
I am rounding out a career in human resources, or as I define it, people, culture, and systems, that has expanded almost two decades. Human resources functions include but are not limited to payroll, talent search, onboarding, diversity training, talent engagement and retention, benefits review, management coaching, and challenging conversations. Within these functions are human beings. Through the practice of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, I have spent two decades helping businesses and organizations build sustainable and stellar cultures of belonging. I have had the pleasure to meet and converse with many different human beings. During discussions, I have been fortunate to utilize my superpowers to discern between the macro and micro concerns often brought to the Chief People Officer of an organization. And, I have found that for all the ways society makes us believe we are so different from one another, we have more similarities than differences. So, what are two commonalities?
Work stress and self-care.
Work stress and self-care are the most intriguing commonalities between human beings, especially in the workplace. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, work stress is the leading workplace health problem and a significant occupational health risk. I have found that most individuals lack self-care as a concept and an essential pillar of their wellness. This is not surprising, given that working full-time, individuals spend more than one-third of their day, five days a week - working. Whether the person is hybrid, in-person, or fully remote does not matter. No matter what role individuals hold, from corporate executives to small business owners to the front line employees to contractors and interns - work stress is present. While our work days are typically outlined, there are opportunities for agility in managing and executing our tasks within those work hours. No one can predict the scenarios for each minute of their work day. Positivity, productivity, and patience are not a given every single moment of every day, but they can be. Your brand is at stake. This is where self-care can guide us in how we show up for our work day.
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare" - Audre Lorde
What Is Self-Care?
I believe the lack of self-care is rooted in the absence of an understanding of what it is. The World Health Organization defines "self-care" as the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote their own health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker. That's a whole lot of words. The People, Culture, and Systems Architect in me define self-care as giving yourself what you need to recharge your holistic battery regularly. Outside of what an employer offers regarding total reward benefits or the work environment, no effort of one's employment removes their individual responsibility to promote their health.
When should we engage in self-care?
I laughed when I realized how intentional and bold the commemorative date of International Self-Care Day is - July 24. Turn that around, and you will notice how often we should engage in self-care - 24 / 7. Practicing self-care can be exhibited in various ways. It should be facilitated daily in the different aspects of your life. Every day engaging in self-love for yourself provides a return on your "self" investment, increasing your capacity to be present, calm, and successful. Seizing self-care moments provides rewarding benefits. Have you ever received something positive when you didn't expect it? How did it make you feel? For me, it's like a jolt to my spirit that reminds me to keep going. The time taken to nourish yourself is equivalent to energy jolts that fuel one's holistic well-being.
"Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what's left of you." - Unknown
How do you go about self-care?
Self-care seems elusive, lofty, and expensive, but it is not. No one knows you quite like you. If you think it's costly to be proactive with your health, imagine the implications and costs of being out of work due to an avoidable health concern. As a small business, this can be even more detrimental. Not only do we not want to consider that, we often do not have time to think about it - right? WRONG! Self-care must be as important to you as success is. As small business owners, we have an opportunity to infuse a self-care routine within the intentional flows of life to flow more abundantly towards success.
Below are seven ways to enact self-care as a small business owner:
Before the pandemic, you might have had a natural system within the office - bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, colleague breaks at the water cooler. Now, you are trying to get back to a routine. Be proactive to set a consistent sleep schedule to recharge your brain. Map the bulk of your time to plan out your day or week for the projects and responsibilities you are aware of. Building structure is known to support resilience and your ability to cope with change. Identify one new structure a week that can you put in place to shift your level of success from the monotonous system of work?
Add 5-minute blocks on your calendar where you can take a mental health break from the screen every 60 minutes. This is also helpful if you have back-to-back meetings. We need to recharge away from the computer. However accessible you can, try to move from your workspace - take a stroll to get a glass of water, go to the restroom or go outside for a moment.
Affirmations are excellent for your brain and boost your confidence and self-esteem. Identify monthly goals and find a positive affirmation that helps you level up with energy and power. Repeat it daily or even multiple times a day.
When pressed for time, exercise is often the easiest to eliminate. It shouldn't be. Exercising provides numerous benefits to the mind and body. YouTube provides on-demand exercise programs for as short as 3-minutes. Health advisors suggest 30-minutes of exercise. If you do not exercise regularly, consider walking around your neighborhood. Be mindful of exercising during the rising temperatures.
Actively taking lunch is a form of self-care. A lunch break is an opportunity to disconnect for at least 30-minutes. Cherish that opportunity to sit with your meal and a mental break from work. A recent survey cited in the Harvard Business Review found that employee engagement and retention were significantly boosted for those who regularly took their lunch break. Bonus points when you engage in lunch away from your immediate workspace and that lunch is nutritiously fulfilling.
Celebrate your wins.
Self-care is present. Too often, we envision future achievements, rarely witnessing the current realities or appreciating the past. This stunts our growth. This can deter our level of success if we aren't compassionate, generous, and self-acknowledging. We can stop running to the next milestone and acknowledge our current and past milestones to stay present.
Three letters: PTO.
Approximately one-third of the American workforce does not use their paid-time-off benefits. The reason is often couched in fear of being replaced, being seen as disloyal, never the right time, or returning to more work. How are you treating your body and mental space when you work all the time? It is a dual relationship - the employer offers paid time off. Still, you have set structures and boundaries to manage that experience. It may take some work, but trust me when I tell you, writing this from New Orleans with a clear mind - a vacation does wonders for us.
Outsourcing for self-care.
Anyone can manage the evolving human resources environment. Suppose your background is not in human resources. In that case, it will take additional time to manage record keeping, payroll, benefits, and recruitment. The functions become another task on your professional business to-do list while balancing your personal life. This can inhibit you from focusing on what you excel at: your business's creative and client-facing side. I regularly work with small business owners. And, I have to tell you that my clients are dynamic. Yet, I appreciate that they realize that self-care is negotiating priorities with wants and needs.
Outsourcing is not new; costs aside, it helps with business efficiency. Individuals have utilized dry cleaning, maid services, chefs, meal delivery, and car sharing to personally help get back what was important: their time. My mission at AllProfit HR is to help organizations experience transformational people and culture systems to create a culture of belonging for all. Whether you have "people" yet is minute. Human resources encompass many functions that support your organization's strategic development. Everything can and does begin with you and your business.
AllProfit HR offers a menu of advisory services and coaching to expand executive and staff capacity and business prosperity through actionable and achievable steps. Let's connect and discuss how AllProfit HR can help your business raise its internal and external currency to the next level for an AllProfit type of season. Schedule a free discovery call today.
What is one way as a small business owner in which you regularly engage in self-care?
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