There’s a dangerous misconception out there that success in the business world requires a singular focus, long hours on the job, and always putting your personal life last. Fortunately, in recent years, the concept of work-life balance has been proven as a better way to succeed both personally and professionally.
With spokespeople like Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson promoting the idea of balance in our careers, it’s perhaps never been more acceptable (and even encouraged!) to take time for yourself. But what should you do with that time? In short, anything that promotes self-love and self-care. Here are some of the most important self-care activities for busy professionals:
There’s so little downside to dedicating some time to exercise. After all, when do you ever regret that 30 minutes of cardio after it’s done? Never! Find a form of exercise that works for you, whether it’s yoga, running, cross-fit or walking with a group of friends. The only requirements are that the activity gets your body moving and makes you feel good. And no, you don’t have to commit to doing it every single day but shoot for getting active 4-5 days a week to promote optimal well-being.
In the life of a busy professional, stress and stimuli are everywhere. Quiet the “noise” that accompanies your lifestyle by designating times where you disconnect from your deadlines, your devices, and even your people. For some this might mean finding a quiet space to meditate for 30 minutes. For others, drawing a warm bath and relaxing in the peace and quiet of your bathroom may be a better option. You’ll be amazed at how just a few minutes of quiet time can translate into better stress management, improved interpersonal skills, and even increased efficiency.
The life of a busy professional lends itself to a lot of bad habits. Skip breakfast and suck down three cups of coffee in the morning. Fast (and unhealthy) food for lunch. A couple drinks in the evening to “unwind” from the stress of the day. Too many of us fall into these unhealthy patterns. Good self-care means being intentional in what foods and drinks you put in your body. It means planning ahead to make sure you’re able to enjoy healthy meals and employing discipline when you’re faced with options that aren’t in your body’s best interest.
It’s such a basic human need, but sleep is so often overlooked. Think of the times (no matter how few) where you’ve awoken from a really solid night’s sleep. You’re unstoppable! And yet too often, sleep is the first thing sacrificed when we’re faced with perceived time limitations. It’s been scientifically proven that decision-making, concentration and productivity ALL suffer when a person is sleep deprived. So, it’s possible those extra hours you’re putting in are futile in your efforts to get more done. Instead, get a good night’s sleep and you’ll wake up ready to take on the world (well, at least that to-do list)!
There are so many ways to take better care of yourself, and we’ve highlighted some of the biggies. Beyond taking care of your health, think about other ways that you can show your mind and your body love. Pursue a hobby that allows you to express your creativity. Join a rec league to play a sport you enjoyed in your youth. Take some night classes on a subject that’s interesting to you, but totally unrelated to your job.
The ultimate in self-care is allowing yourself to pursue the things that bring you joy, especially when they have nothing to do with chasing career success.