Popular culture wants to sell you all kinds of products to promote your self-care. But true self care doesn’t come from bath bombs or sugar scrubs. Learn what does make for good self-care in this video.
It seems like everyone I talk to these days is completely stressed out. The pandemic is wearing on. There’s a general sense of anxiety about the upcoming election and the political situation the U.S. is in right now. The economy is suffering, which has most people living with some level of worry about their jobs. Even people who feel their jobs are relatively secure are worried about how they’ll tackle all the work ahead of them by the end of the year.
All of this stress is bringing out two competing impulses. The first is to pull the covers over your head and hide. Most people probably aren’t doing that literally. Instead they’re reaching for an extra glass of wine, or indulging in extra comfort food, or binge-watching endless television. All of these activities seem like relaxing – but they may not actually be so refreshing. They don’t necessarily help the situation or make you feel better. And in some cases, they can make you feel worse -sapping your energy, rather than rejuvenating it.
The other approach is to dig in and work harder. Grind it out. Push through. Work – or worry about work until you drop every night, exhausted. It becomes one endless day after another. While this approach has the benefit of being more productive than the first, it’s not actually any better for you. No one performs at peak levels when they push that hard. Something is bound to suffer in the quality of your work. This coping pattern is also very hard on relationships – whether those are your working relationships in your organization, or your relationships at home.
Neither of these strategies work, because neither get to the heart of what’s needed. Neither provides true self-care. They’re on the surface, avoiding the real issue underneath.
That real issue? The true self-care you need is a loving, supportive and hopeful internal mental dialogue – what I call your internal executive presence. That means showing up for yourself as the leader you try to be for others. (Or as the leader you wish you had in your organization.) That’s a thousand times more powerful than any other version of self-care you might find. After all, you could be soaking in a candlelit tub, and still worried about work. Or on a lovely walk drenched in fall color and still obsessing over your next deadline. Or eating a luscious chocolate, still mulling over that thing you wished you had said in the meeting.
When you have your thoughts dialed-in, you can tap into “self-care” anywhere. That ability – to refresh your energy and strengthen your outlook – will get you through any challenge.
In her book Positivity, Barbara Frederickson describes research that suggests that positive and open mindsets contribute to exploration and more accurate mental maps of the world. In other words, learning to direct your internal dialogue is a critical skill in successfully navigating challenging times. That sounds like exactly the kind of self-care we all need right now.
Want to learn how to build your internal executive presence? Let’s talk.