It is common among leaders to overlook their own wellbeing during times of stress. Take for example the leader in a medical field. When they try to save other people, some of them often expose themselves to a lot of danger, eschewing their own safety in the struggle to save other people. This is not right. Being the leader of a community or an organization, either paid or voluntary, you have the responsibility to represent the interest of your community. As a leader, a lot of people are looking up to you. Therefore, you should take good care of yourself. By taking care of yourself, you are also indirectly taking care of your community. You know the saying that when the head is cut off, the rest of the body is useless. Well, you are the head right now, and it is because of you that your community is functioning. You cannot effectively help others if you have not helped yourself first.
One of the ways of showing how great of a leader you are; is by taking great care of yourself, since other people in the community are looking up to you. By caring for yourself, you are setting the tone of safety in the minds of others. It is important to maintain both physical and mental health, especially during the time of crisis.
Below are ways you can effectively take good care of yourself.
1. Practice Self-Awareness
Learning about yourself is a great way of caring for yourself both physically and mentally. People with high level of self-awareness often achieve success in their professions. And as a leader, your dedication towards your self-awareness will be what will set you apart from other leaders. If you don’t know how to achieve high level of self-awareness, you can start by doing the following:
- Constantly relating to people and getting feedbacks. From these feedbacks you can look at yourself through the eyes of other people such as your followers or those you have taught.
- First impression always lasts longer in the minds of people. This is why you have to be careful about how you present yourself to other people. You need to create a good impression of yourself in people’s minds; it is how you present yourself to them that they will relate with you. Therefore, as a leader, it is imperative that you put yourself in a leadership position.
- Always have it at the back of your mind that not everybody will accept your viewpoint even though you are a leader. Also, you must agree that you cannot always be right, you are only human. It is only right that you welcome the viewpoints of other people; this will mean that you are open to new ideas.
- As a leader, you have to practice what you preach. Remember, people look up to you; your followers are watching your every step. Your values are not only in what you say but also in what you do.
- Identify both your strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you will not only acknowledge what you are doing well but also what you could do better.
- Before you take any action, you have to consider the feelings of other people. If what you will do will hurt others, then you should find a better way of doing that thing. A leader should be willing to compromise.
- While you practice your self-awareness, keeping a journal will not be a bad idea. The journal will help you to keep tab of your progress, or regression, as the case may be. You can only get better by knowing where you stand.
2. Set Boundaries
Boundary is the line indicating the limit or extent of something; it can also be defined as the greatest possible degree of something. As a leader, one of the ways of caring for yourself is to set limits to the things you accept or refuse. A leader should be able to recognize what to accept and refuse. If you don’t set boundary for yourself and others, people will not take you seriously. Sometimes some things or situation might threaten your physical and mental health, the way you deal with such situations will determine your strength. Setting boundaries is an important part of your self-care strategy.
Here are ways you can set boundaries for yourself.
- By clear about stating your boundaries to avoid people misunderstanding you. It is very easy for people to confuse what you mean to be something else if you do not use the right words, or if you are not affirmative enough. This is why you have to make sure that people clearly understand the boundaries you are setting.
- You have to know your limit. You are a human being, not a robot. You have to understand that, and people have to understand that too. The fact that you are in a leadership position does not mean that you must accept of do everything. By knowing your limit, you will be able to set the right boundaries, and ultimately people will know how to relate with you.
- Even when working in a critical condition or environment, you must create a schedule that must suit your preference. The fact that you are a leader does not mean that you must over-exert yourself. With the right schedules, you will be able to do thing as normal as possible.
By identifying your limit and defining it to people will give you the peace of mind you require. It is a way of managing stress and taking care of your well-being physically. It gives you a calmness of the mind and makes the relationship with people grow healthier. With a set limit, you tend to be happier. You will be able to effectively take responsibility for only the things you can deal with. Your level of stress will reduce and you will have a clear state of mind to handle issues. You will ultimately be an effective and healthy leader.
3. Care for Your Physical and Mental Health
One of the ways to care for your mental health is by having a grasp on your emotion. You should be able to control your temper. Sometimes things can be frustrating, even infuriating, how you manage these emotions goes a long way in determining your level of self-control. As a leader, it is imperative that you are in the right frame of mind when taking actions. Getting unnecessarily emotional is not healthy for you; you must learn how to curb your outbursts over some issues which you may not agree with. The following points will help you to take care of your physical and mental health.
- If you have an important job, you should plan for it the night before so that the stress of the job the next day would be reduced. This will help your brain to relax a lot better than facing a certain task without prior preparation.
- When you work for too long you will be fatigued. You should take occasional breaks from a work just to stretch your legs. You can walk around or engage in a little bit of exercise. All these will help to relax your nerves and help you concentrate more on your work.
- The importance of getting enough rest cannot be overemphasized. Always make sure you get enough sleep at the right time, and eat well-balanced food to help your body work right.
- You have to understand that work is not everything. Occasionally, you have to take break from work and have some fun. You can spend more time with your friends and family or take up a hobby – anything that will help reduce the stress that comes with your job.
- You can relax your body by going for massages or attending a yoga class; all these will help you mediate well and also relax your mind.
4. Give Yourself Grace
Because you are a leader does not mean that you must take all the responsibility; it is not your job to take 100% of the burden; that is why you have followers and other members of your organization. All these people are there to reduce the stress of your job. So, you don’t have to take up the mantle of solving every problem. As a matter of fact, it is impossible for you to solve all problems. Two heads are better than one; and more often than not, three heads are better than two. You have to give yourself a little bit of grace by involving other people into the decision-making process. Your job as a leader is to listen to the ideas the members present, analyze them and finally make a final decision on them. You don’t have to do all the heavy-lifting. No man is an island, the rest of your team are there to make your work as simple as possible. Do not take up the Messiah complex and end up nailing yourself to the cross.
Leadership entails being flexible to be able to deal with shifting situations. You don’t have to be everything to everybody. You are not a superman; you are only a leader who is also only human. It is not your responsibility to exert yourself beyond what you are capable of doing. When you are available, you help your community and your employees; you can organize empowerment programs and dish out tasks to members of your community.
Giving yourself grace simply means not creating unrealistic expectations for yourself, because in the end, such an expectation will end in failure, which in turn would lead to depressions, which, of course, is not good for your physical and mental health – and it is also not good for your position as a leader.
No matter how tasking your responsibility is, always find the time to give yourself the grace you need. Have it at the back of your mind that if you are not there, if there is no leader, the job will still be done. Do not involve yourself in any task at the expense of your own health. Taking care of yourself means that you can find a quiet place away from work, relax and then reflect on how to handle some situation. Have fun. There is no rule anywhere that states that leaders should not have time for themselves.
5. Extend Grace to Others
Do unto others what you can do to yourself. As a leader, it is your job to always check on your subordinates and find out what is going on about them; this simply shows that you care about them, and that will go a long way in strengthening your bond with them. It will give them the peace of mind that they have a capable and compassionate leader. It is not all the time you call them that your dialogues must be formal; by extending grace to others, you are also building a great reputation for yourself, which is also good for your health.
By checking in with your team members, you get to know more about them and their personal lives. You will find that these people lead very interesting lives. And through this method, you will be able to tell which one of them needs the grace most. Also, as a way to extend grace to others, you have to support the employee wellness programs; this would show that you care deeply about them.
Leaders who are exhausted and drained emotionally puts themselves in a vulnerable position and may be felled by the risks associated with stress. Such a leader would create an unsafe working environment for others; this can, of course, limit the subordinate’s ability to develop innovative solutions and think creatively. And when all these are lost, the unhealthy mindset that the leader has brought to the work environment automatically spreads around.
As a community leader, your state of mind is important for the development of your community. For the benefit of yourself and your community at large, it is important that you take good care of yourself.
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Over 10,000 words
- Self-care During a Crisis
- Understand that you are in a very unique situation
- It is important to recognize your own stressors
- Take time to pause
- Take time to take care of yourself physically
- Self-care Strategies
- Set boundaries
- Refuel yourself
- Go outside
- Practice kindness
- Be aware of your mindset
- Why Leaders Need to Practice Self-care
- Keep your energy levels topped up
- Self-reflect on things that didn’t go so well
- Do some physical exercises to level yourself
- Practice mindfulness for a solid foundation
- Self-care for Serious Leaders
- Self-care is just a bunch of new-age hippy-dippy nonsense
- I don’t have time!
- Leaders need to be strong; if I’m a good leader I shouldn’t need self-care
- A Mindset for Self-care
- What makes an effective leader?
- Wear your own oxygen mask before helping others
- Managing mental health is everyone’s business
- Day in, day out
- Self-care isn’t always the feel-good stuff
- Positive employee wellbeing: leading by example
- Assess your level of self-care using the following 5 questions