We can easily find so many blogs out there focusing on improving your business through social media, pinning, blogging, marketing and photography (myself included there). But hardly any talk about this one crucial thing.
And as a qualified clinical psychologist, working in my own private practice (seeing clients and doing all my own book work), a graphic designer, an owner of my own business, and part time student, I know all to well how busy we can all get, and how important this single tool is.
The answer? Self care. If you don't do this, nothing else will really matter.
I know some of you out there might be thinking “yeah yeah, whatever, it’s not that important”. But you business savvy people out there will stay tuned, because self care is crucial. Here’s why:
Stress can be good for us. It can make us more productive and can prepare our body to handle life's difficulties. But only to a point. Too much stress and we actually stop being productive. It’s called the inverted U curve. You can read more about it here. Essentially without any stress (or arousal) we feel bored and uninterested, the right amount and we feel engaged, focussed and interested. Too much, however, and we feel fatigued and anxious, our productivity actually decreases, it can lead to a mental break down, and even increase chance of heart attack.
So who feels that being less productive, having a heart attack, having a mental break down or being sick is good for your business? Even on the lower end of the scale- how useful it is to be less productive in your work? And what effect does being stressed have on how your customers perceive you? Are you able to give them your full attention, get back to them on time, and appear confident and organised? Now I am not suggesting we can eliminate all our stress and anxiety (I still get it too!), but we can learn to manage it and lower it.
So what do you do? Practice self care. “But how?” I hear you ask.
One easy way to do this (and bear with me because it is a bit of a buzz word), is mindfulness. In a nut shell this just means being mindful of your present moment, being mindful of what's around you, or what's going on within you. Imagine if you spent all day knitting or typing, how would your fingers feel? You would probably at some point give your hands a break, or your back, but how often do we give our brain (and thoughts) a break? Mindfulness does this. And what’s also cool about practicing mindfulness is that the more you practice the better you get at switching your focus- so instead of your mind going around and around on that same thought, or worrying topic (like how can I possibly get all that work done?) you can switch gears, refocus, and let go.
One awesome way to practice mindfulness is to meditate and focus on what is happening in your body. And meditation can be great for the brain. But it is hard at first, and can turn people off.
So here is my favourite way to practice. I head to the local jetty and take a walk. I focus my mind on what I can see (is that a turtle?!) what I can smell (a little bit fishy but I kind of like it) and what I can hear (ocean, waves, birds). It's super relaxing. Plus walking outside is great for creativity (more on that next time).
Or you could grab a hot tea (heat is very relaxing for the body), or a glass of wine (less ideal but perhaps more practical), and head outside somewhere where you can focus on what you can see and hear. Don't take technology, just you.
Now at first your mind will wander off. Over and over and over again. What am I having for dinner, what Netflix show will I watch, why did I say that earlier, how will I get all that work done. But just keeping bringing your mind back, it will get easier in time.
Or if you're not in to mindfulness just do what you would do if you were sick! What comforts you when you need resting? A magazine, a book, hot soup, a blanket and staying in bed all day, getting your nails done, a hot bath? Whatever it is, do it. Look after yourself, lower your stress, and get more productive.
And as they say, practice makes perfect! So keep it up.
Feeling stuck? Why not try one of my ideas below? Better yet, practice one every day for a month and see how you feel!
- read a book
- take a bath
- plant some new herbs or flower plant
- look through old photos - make a collage
- do a yoga class (in person or from youtube)
- draw something
- paint your nails
- wonder through your local op shop or second hand store
- bake something
- look through a magazine
- watch an old movie
- play some old music from when you were a kid
- dance around your living room
- make yourself a pedicure
- get a massage
- binge watch your favourite show (without the guilt!)
- make some soup
- write a letter to a friend
- go for a walk
- pick some flowers (or buy some for yourself)
- try knitting, sewing, or crochet
- draw a to do list
- eat some pieces of chocolate
- rub some essential oils in to your hands and feet
- sit outside with a hot drink
- find a new view (of your city, town, beach)
- go to a local museum, art gallery or exhibit
- watch a sunrise or sunset
- get of things you no longer use or need- donate them
- make a puzzle
- do something touristy in your local town just for fun