How to Embrace Self Care and Self Leadership

How do you blow off steam as a leader? Do you get home from work and cook up a storm in the kitchen? Do you immediately fall onto the couch and don’t get up for the rest of the weekend? Or do you go out for a night of fun, dinner, drinks and laughs with family and friends? As leaders, we need to be able to learn how to relax and take time out for self-care. We work long hours and we need to learn that it is ok to let our hair down from time to time.

We are all human and we shouldn’t have to feel bad for doing something that we enjoy doing. Especially if it’s not harming anyone else. If you’ve been taking in the news on social media during the last week or so, you might have seen that Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has landed in hot water with some people because videos were released of her partying outside work hours. I mentioned on Linkedin a couple of days ago that I stand for Sanna Marin’s leadership, courage and right to dance and have a life. I love dancing even though I am not a great dancer!

Self care through maintaining work-life balance

I’m not the only one supporting her, there are many people out there who admire her courage and understand that she’s just maintaining a good work-life balance. She’s a world leader, a mum, a wife and a human being. She’s worked hard to get to where she is today, she became Finland’s youngest Prime Minister in 2019 at age 34. According to the United Nations’ UN Women division, 26 women were serving as Heads of State and/or Government in 24 countries as of September 01, 2021.

I think she’s earned a break. Haven’t we done the same at some point in our lives and shouldn’t we be free to do so without being judged on our every move? It’s so important for leaders to be able to take a breather from work, otherwise they will burn out and they won’t be able to lead. Besides, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone or doing the wrong thing, I think it’s fine to be able to live life you choose.

Prime Minister Marin has often insisted that even though she’s the head of Finland’s government, she’s just like anyone else her age who likes a good time with friends and family in their leisure time. “I hope that in the year 2022 it’s accepted that even decision-makers dance, sing and go to parties.” “I didn’t wish for any images to be spread, but it’s up to the voters to decide what they think about it.”

5 Ways To Practice Self Care As A Leader

1.    Exercise

Exercise can be a great way to improve your mental health, emotional wellbeing, mood and your memory. After a busy day at work, don’t jump on your phone and start scrolling when you get home. Instead, take some time to go for a walk out in nature and stretch your legs or walk your dog. You don’t have to sign up for the gym or go for a long run, just go outside and take a breather.

2.    Set boundaries

Stop checking your emails every 10 minutes, I promise they will still be there in the morning. If you’re finding yourself stressing out about work after work hours, you may need to start setting some boundaries for yourself. Take a step back from your phone and your laptop, remember you are on your own time and work can wait. Instead spend some time with your family, your pets, friends or treat yourself to a good dinner.

3.    Make sure you eat!

You can’t survive on 10 cups of coffee a day. If you find yourself skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner, or all of the above, on a daily basis because you are too busy to eat, you need to stop. Because not eating nutritious balanced meals can impact your health, increase stress, decrease productivity and lower your mood. Make some time to freeze meals if you don’t have time to make your lunch in the morning.

4.    Be kind to yourself and others

Stop being so hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself, make sure you say some positive self-affirmations when you get up in the morning before you head to work. If you make a mistake at work, own up to it and learn from it. Lead by example by being kind and grateful to your colleagues and members of your team. If someone on your team does a great job, let them know or even just thank them.

5.    Find something that helps you to relax

It might be a good book, having a coffee or a cup of tea, spending time with your family or going out for dinner and drinks. We all have different ways of relaxing, de-stressing and taking our minds off our professional lives. The World Health Organisation has listed burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and nearly 60% of leaders have reported they feel used up at the end of the workday.

Any others?

Self Leadership starts with YOU.

Join me for the National Tour of the Courageous Women Program!

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7 Tips For Here are my best tips too for self-leadership!

Tip No 1 – Self Awareness

We spend so much time trying to be successful or climbing the ladder; when we should spend time getting to know who we are. Our strengths, passions, dreams, triggers, faults, styles and continuously learning about ourselves. This is where we can truly be a leader and build our brand. The more aware we are of ourselves, the more aware we are of others. This awareness is the birthplace of kindness, curiosity and compassion. We discover we are only human and it builds courage.

Tip No 2 – Believe In Yourself and Be You

We spend so much time trying to be competent at something to feel confident about ourselves. I get it. Sometimes we don’t put our hand up, go for opportunities or take risks as we want to feel 110% competent at it. Be confident, say yes, take risks, go for it – confidence and self belief will take you far. It’s okay if you only tick 7 out of the 10 boxes, you can do it, you will learn and you will make mistakes. Believe in yourself and BE YOU.

Tip No 3 – Be Compassionate

Why are we always so hard on ourselves? I remember when I was younger, I used to put so much pressure on myself. When I made the occasional stuff (maybe not so occasionally); I would beat myself up for days around it. We are all human and yes sometimes we forget this. Give yourself a break, love yourself completely as you deserve it, always learn from your stuff ups (best learnings come from this), and remember it will pass. Thing is; when you are compassionate to yourself, you are more aware and able to be compassionate towards others. Focus on empathy, kindness and gratitude always for yourself and for others.

Tip No 4 – Get A Coach Or A Mentor (Or Both) – And Find A Sponsor

Without a doubt the one area that has had greatest impact on my life and career are my Coaches and Mentors. Some of which have been formal and some informal. Think about this – all great sports people and executives have coaches. They have mentors. The people who are your trusted advisors; the ones you go to for guidance and advice. Some of these people are now my sponsors where they advocate on my behalf to put me out there. INVALUABLE! Do not be afraid to ask someone you admire and trust to be your mentor, coach or sponsor. Do it! Go for it

Tip No 5 – Be Humble

Humility as a Leader is critical. No matter what you are doing, where you are going, what you have and don’t have, where you are, what title you have, who you are; you are not more or less important than anyone else. We are all human and we all have our own struggles. Always be humble. Always think about what might be going on for someone else. Always help others where you can. Be grateful for being who you are and what you have. Humility to get you a long way….

Tip No 6 – Lead By Example

Integrity is the centre pole of Self Leadership. It is crucial that you follow through on your promises and you display behaviour and action which is aligned to your words and values. This starts with knowing yourself, what is important to you, why you do what you do, what you stand for and your values. The Self Leadership example you espouse and demonstrate can set you up for success…and failure. The only way to lead is through integrity, honesty and by example. If you say you will do something, do it. The more you know yourself and the impact you have on others, the more you will find Self Leadership within you.

Tip No 7 – Never Stop Learning

Jack Nicholson once said “The minute you stop learning I believe you are dead.”

This is true. Never stop learning, open yourself up to feedback, read those books, watch the TED talks, attend those educational opportunities, get a coach and a mentor and open our mind, heart and soul to continuous learning, knowledge, growth and awareness. Life is always a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

By Sonia McDonald – CEO of LeadershipHQ And McDonald Inc. Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO And Award Winning Author.

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Sonia McDonald is changing the face of leadership across the globe. She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, and is known for her mantra ‘Just Lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her transformational coaching, leadership training programs and cultural transformation for organisations and encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped thousands of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

Sonia is a founder and CEO of McDonald Inc., LeadershipHQ and Global Outstanding Leadership Awards and Conference. For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of leadership and she is beyond committed to her mission around building a world of great leaders.

She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader. She has been recognised by Richtopia as One of the Top 250 Influential Women across the Globe and Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs. She is also rated as one of the Australia’s motivational keynote speakers.