How to incorporate self-care into your day

Senior couple riding bikes

I love traveling. I love all of it; the frantic packing the night before, early morning flights, trying to find parking, the lines at security, and the hustle and bustle of people coming and going. I take it all in. I’ve traveled so much that I can recite the safety announcement, you know, the one that everyone ignores. When the flight attendant starts talking about the oxygen masks, it always catches my attention. It’s always a small reminder to take care of myself so that I have the strength to take care of others.

As founders, leaders, partners, or employees, I wonder how many of us put our oxygen masks on first? I’m sure most of us are placing a mask on everyone and everything else - meanwhile neglecting the most critical person, yourself. I know that sounds selfish, but self-care is probably the most selfless act we can give to ourselves and the people around us. If we are running out of oxygen, we can’t take care of our teams, organizations, communities or families.

Self-care leaves you feeling fully aware, capable, and armed with what you need to ensure you show up as your best self. Self-care is making sure your cup is full enough to share and pour into someone else’s.  

I’m sure we can all use a vacation but self-care isn’t just vacations and spa days. There are times when I am losing oxygen, but I don’t have a spa day planned or a trip scheduled. Here’s the good news:  we can create self-care in our daily routines. 

Create moments of rest

Every day I set aside at least seven minutes within my day to rest. This doesn’t include my lunch break. I intentionally block this time on my calendar. I move away from my desk because I don’t want to be tempted to pick up my phone or finish that one last email. For seven minutes, I can breathe, close my eyes and relax. During these seven minutes, I step away from it all. It gives me a moment to pause and take care of myself. I gift myself this time as a reminder that no matter how busy the day or how big the problem, I owe it to myself and the people I lead to take a moment and refill my tank.

I show up better when I have a moment of stillness. I have a friend that takes 30 minutes out of her day to walk or sit outside. The fresh air is essential to her mental health. Find time during the day to take a moment to rest and do something that will refill your tank. These moments of rest may look different for everyone. The goal is to make moments of rest a part of our daily routines.  

Read before bed

I love reading, but I do have a rule not to read business books before bed. As a recovering workaholic, business books spur new ideas and thoughts that will have me out of bed working on something new. I do enjoy light reading before bed, usually something funny. Cognitive Neuropsychologist, Dr. David Lewis, published a study in 2009 at the University of Sussex and found that reading reduces stress by 68 percent. The study also showed reading reduced stress more than music, taking a walk and drinking coffee. Since I started reading before bed, instead of scrolling through my phone or watching TV, I sleep better and feel more refreshed in the morning. Grab a book before bed and reduce your stress.

Celebrate you

Life is demanding, and no matter where you sit within an organization, there is always work that needs to be done. Someone pulling at you for something, deliverables to be met, numbers to hit, and sometimes all this work comes without recognition. Learn to celebrate yourself. As humans, we have a tendency to mentally hang on to the mistakes that we make, the bad parts of the day and the things that didn’t go as planned. How many times have we replayed in our minds the things that went wrong or the decision we made that did not pan out? Those thoughts cause anxiety and overwhelm. Let’s change that narrative. Grab a journal, think about the things you accomplished during the day and celebrate yourself. Write down the wins of the day. Take a step back and realize that outside of the noise, there was some good in the day, and there is something that you can be and should be proud of. It’s time we start being our loudest cheerleader. 

Self-care should be normalized and incorporated into our daily routines. The act of taking care of ourselves should not only be limited to the time we take off. Self-care is taking care of ourselves in the little moments; at the beginning of the day, when we fill our day with gratitude. It’s taking a moment to breathe after a rough meeting. It’s picking up the phone and talking to a friend. It’s reading before bed. It’s congratulating yourself. Self-care is building yourself up daily, one step at a time, to show up and be the best person we can be for ourselves and the people we serve.

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Voya is collaborating with Portia Scott through the Voya Just Right Advantage™ program to deliver value-add education to minority, women, veteran, disability and LGBTQ-owned small businesses and not-for-profits. These communities have felt a disproportionate impact from the pandemic, and Voya is providing extra support and help.

Portia is the host of the Wake Up & Show Up podcast, speaker and vision execution partner on a mission to inspire and empower individuals with the tools they need to make their goals clear and plan of action clearer.

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Portia Scott and Portia Scott Media LLC., are not affiliated with the Voya family of companies. Portia Scott Media LLC., has received compensation from Voya for participation in educational programming, supporting Voya's Just Right Advantage program.

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