3 Simple Strategies to Take Care of Yourself Right Now
Do you find it difficult to reconnect with yourself? When you feel something in your life is not quite working as you would like? When you believe you are not good enough? When you neglect your self-care to serve others?
I want to share with you three simple, yet effective strategies that helped my clients reconnect and realign with themselves. Here are their insightful stories.
Be compassionate with yourself
Ryan felt like a fraud at work. He got intimidated by colleagues who were good at their jobs. He thought that their competence meant that he was less worthy himself. He constantly sought affirmation from his boss, and he got disheartened when he did not get it. When I told Ryan that he could learn to appreciate and love himself irrespective of what others thought or did, he found the idea challenging. He had grown up in a family that constantly compared him to others.
Ryan started practicing unconditional self-love every day. He congratulated himself when he did a good job. He was compassionate with the more needy parts of himself. He tried to stop the mental self-flagellation when he made mistakes. I noticed that slowly but surely, he developed confidence and ease in his role. He started putting himself out more, speaking at conferences, and publishing his ideas in the company’s blog. His “impostor syndrome” stopped being such an issue any more.
You do not need others’ validation to be worthy. You are not required to do anything to deserve love and respect; it is your birthright. Babies earn our love just because they exist. You are the same. Not perfect, but enough. Listen to your internal dialogue and fix it if you are rude or cruel. Love yourself unconditionally, like it is your job. Because it is.
Take care of your body and wellbeing
Bob had a successful career and a lovely family. His rise in the corporate world was meteoric, and his bosses and team members loved him. He worked hard, often spending his days in back-to-back meetings. He frequently skipped breakfast and even lunch. After the kids were in bed, he would tidy up the house and put on the dishwasher. And then it was “me-time.” He would smoke a cigarette with a glass of juice or a beer. Open a chocolate bar and watch Netflix until late. The next morning, he would wake up tired, as he would not allow enough time for sleep.
Bob became overweight. He suffered from back pain, and he could no longer run. He would often feel frustrated with his team members and family. He was working so hard serving others, but his cranky moods alienated the people he most cared about.
When Bob realized what was happening, he decided to change. He hired a dietician and also went for a bicycle ride every day. He started stopping Netflix earlier to allow for enough sleep. He lost 5 kilos in a few months. He loved his bike rides that became his new “me time” as he would also listen to his favourite podcasts. He told me that he felt happier than in a long time and his family and coworkers noticed. He was calmer, more clear-headed, and had more energy.
Most of us behave in a self-destructive way. We eat unhealthy, processed food. We do not drink enough water. We do not move our bodies and do not sleep enough. All of these bad habits affect our moods and our cognitive ability.
You cannot be connected to yourself if you mistreat your body. Taking care of your body is not just about avoiding clogged arteries or cancer 20 years in the future. It is the only way you can be happy and successful now.
Release your inner artist
Jess was an advertising executive in a global multinational. She came to coaching because she wanted to improve her leadership presence. She struggled to connect with the internal stakeholders in her company. The feedback she got was that she came across as robotic and as if she did not enjoy her work. That was not true; she did enjoy her job. She simply tried to come across as “professional” in her internal communications, and as a result, she did not express much emotion or take any risk.
I explored with Jess what she enjoyed most about her work. She loved the creativity of advertising. I asked her whether she could use the same creativity she used to charm the company’s clients in her internal communications. As a practice, she also started being more creative in her personal time. Jess was a repressed creative person. She started painting and designing in her free time. Soon enough, she was more comfortable being creative at work. She decided to create a quiz for an internal presentation rather than have a series of boring slides. The audience loved it.
I have a theory. Most people who feel constantly uninspired at work are repressed artists. Many of us are. We are naturally creative. As a kid, you loved drawing and painting, singing and dancing, role-playing, and building. Many of us are so busy with work and family that we do not have time for play and creation.
In her book, the “Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron recommends two cornerstone habits to reconnect with your inner artist. The morning pages and the artist’s date. The morning pages are a journaling, freewriting exercise that you do every morning until you fill three pages. It is one of the best ways to reconnect with your ideas, needs, and thoughts. Try it and stick with it; you will be impressed with the results.
The artist’s date is time you spend alone every week, doing something purely for fun. Something that will nurture your inner artist. Maybe you go for a walk and take photos of all the interesting things you see. Perhaps you watch a great film. Allow time for fun and creation. Set your inner artist free, and you will be impressed by all the stuff you will create and how much more inspired you will feel in your daily life.
Ryan took notice and change his inner dialogue. Bob took care of his body. And Jess released her inner artist. What strategies do you follow to reconnect with yourself?
This post was first published in Caterina Kostoula’s newsletter the Leader’s Path. Subscribe and download her free guide to motivate your team here.