A good leader understands that self-care is essential. You can only support and inspire others when you’re feeling your best. Here’s how to make yourself a top priority.
Why you should take self-care seriously
Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of self-care. Perhaps it’s due to the pressures of work, or they don’t realise its value, or they simply don’t know where to start.
At work, self-care often takes a backseat to other tasks and responsibilities. Even when we do get around to it, there always seems to be something more important to do.
However, research from the University of Bremen in Germany shows that self-care is a crucial factor in sustainable and healthy leadership. By taking care of yourself, you’ll have the energy and rest you need to support your team. Moreover, you’ll set an example for others in the company. When leaders prioritise self-care, it encourages everyone to do the same.
In other words, as a leader, your behaviour sets the tone for the rest of the organisation. It’s contagious and inspiring.
Leadership and mental health
Work can be good for our mental health. It provides purpose, goals, and meaningful relationships with others. However, there are plenty of situations where work also has an adverse effect on our well-being. Stress, the inability to switch off after work, and feeling unsafe in the workplace are just a few examples.
An American survey on mental health in the workplace found that around 80% of employees reported at least one work factor that negatively impacted their mental health in the past year. This can lead to absenteeism and voluntary resignations.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create the right conditions for your team. You need to find a balance that works for you and ensure you have the support you need.
You don’t have to put on a brave face
In a world where around one in six people are dealing with mental health challenges (according to the OECD) it’s totally normal not to feel great every day – let alone to be productive and to always work on top form.
This applies to leaders and CEOs too. However, many leaders feel they can’t show vulnerability in the workplace, fearing they won’t be taken seriously.
In reality, being open about your doubts and worries can make you a stronger leader. Research by Nassir Ghaemi, professor of psychiatry, shows that mental health challenges can promote these four special human qualities:
Even as a leader, you don’t have to have everything figured out all the time. By sharing what’s going on with you, you’re encouraging others to do the same. And that’s important because it’s precisely this openness that creates a psychologically safe work environment where people can thrive and feel good.
Self-care is essential for good leadership
Self-care is essential for sustainable leadership. It can help you to:
- Think more clearly and view situations realistically
- Set boundaries and manage expectations
- Increase your self-confidence and sense of self-worth
- Cope better with stressful or complex situations
- Be more productive and focus better (responding to your needs has a positive effect on your concentration)
As a leader, focusing on your personal leadership will set the foundation for how you lead others.