OPINION: Even when Too busy; Think About Self-Care

GM CB _Micheal Jjingo

By Michael Jjingo

“Take time to love yourself. You deserve it”, Avina Celeste.

It is so important to take time for yourself. The most important relationship you have is with yourself.

Many leaders tell themselves: “It’s so busy, I can’t afford to…(take 8 hours sleeping, or stop to get lunch, or keep up my hobbies).”

You need the energy to be fully present even as you’re fretting about the numerous emails piling up in your in-box, let alone the loaded WhatsApp. Need to be very creative.

Although most leaders have a sense of the fortitude, energy, and stamina they require to be successful, few of them make investments to bolster them.

We know that sufficient sleep- 8 hours, proper nutrition, physical exercise, human connection, and time to relax are important, but do we practice them? Or, do you tell yourself, “It’s so busy, I can’t afford to self-care, which casts investments in your resilience as contrary to the best interests of yourself.

Take sleep. Several researches say that one-third of adults don’t get sufficient sleep. If you’re in a stressful managerial role, I suspect you’re among that group.

Your reasons for foregoing sufficient sleep might seem logical: … Before going to bed, you need to respond to the emails that came in while you were in meetings all day; you need to cut off an hour of sleep in the morning to read the material for your 8am meeting with your boss; you have to schedule a conference call with the Head office team at 11 PM. There are lots of reasons to shortchange your sleep that seem very reasonable on the surface.

At the very least, sleep loss hinders your cognitive capacity by degrading your alertness and attention.

Sleep deprivation is not helpful when it comes to tasks that require creativity or divergent thinking. If your organization is counting on you for more than menial, routine tasks, you might want to reconsider whether squeezing more into today is worth sacrificing what you can contribute tomorrow.

And rest is only one of the investments you need to make to keep that elegant machine in top form. You need to eat the kind of food that will fuel your energy. You also need to hydrate to stay on top of your game.

Several researchers have shown that even mild dehydration can affect both thinking (memory and attention) and mood (tension and anxiety).

Try out exercises, relax and reflect, and you’ll have the energy, patience, creativity, and endurance to successfully lead any team.

And what if you need that best version of you now? What if you’re sleep-deprived, hungry, and tired, but you’ve got an important meeting in 20 minutes? It’s possible to get your energy level up in a pinch. There are several approaches to boost your micro-resilience.

If that meeting lasts longer, try doing a “walk and talk” instead of sitting down. A walking meeting is a great way to create a free-flowing conversation. It is an especially good idea if you need to have a contentious conversation, because reducing eye contact can make those difficult conversations a little easier.

If your walk can be around trees or grass, all the better. That will not only make your meeting more effective but will also put some gas in the tank for the next one.

If you’re feeling an emotional seize as your resilience is waning, take a moment to hit the reset button. First, name the emotion you’re experiencing; that will make it less powerful. Next, take a deep breath by exhaling as much as you can and then relaxing to let the air refill your lungs. Listen to a great song while walking to your next meeting. Grab coffee and think of your personal icon. 

You can also boost your micro-resilience with a quick reconnection to what matters most to you. Add a sticker to your laptop, put a string around your wrist, load an inspirational quote onto the lock screen of your phone, as a reminder of the bigger picture. Investing in your resilience should be mission-critical. From now on, tell yourself, “It’s so busy at work right now, but I can’t afford not to take care of myself!”

Your resilience is a high-priority business issue if you’re a captain for a team through the stress of our fast-paced world. When you invest in proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, and play, you’ll have the self-control to manage your reactions, the energy to be fully present, the patience to listen and empathize, the wherewithal to reject your defaults and make good decisions, and the stamina to keep it all up for weeks or months. 

The writer is the General Manager Commercial Banking at Centenary Bank.

 

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