On Monday, March 20th, spring arrived. If you are like me you are very happy to welcome spring and say goodbye to winter. Many organizations and leaders enter a time of renewal in spring. During the winter months, they are working strictly on the business of leading and creating. Their nose is to the grindstone, and with the lack of daylight, many workers leave and come home in the dark. It is very challenging to maintain energy and momentum during those long winter months. Now that spring is here, and we have survived the time change, it is a time for self renewal.
It is important for everyone to practice self-care. For me, this becomes easier in the spring months. It is almost like the world is saying, okay, the warmer weather is coming and everything is going to spring back to life, including you! Here are a few things to motivate you to take care of yourself as we enter spring:
- You First. Remember what they tell you about the oxygen mask on the plane. Put your own mask on first before helping children and others in need of assistance. Too many times we take care of others before taking care of ourselves. Make time to take care of yourself; including, time to exercise, sleep, and enjoy family, friends, and hobbies outside of work.
- Focus on the art of listening. It is amazing how liberating and enlightening it is when we listen to understand rather than to respond. When you focus on the art of listening you are creating space for personal growth, and the opportunity to build stronger relationships.
- Only check your email and social media accounts as designated times of the day. It is amazing how much time we waste, and how much of our energy we drain when we are constantly checking email and social media. Human nature leads us to judge ourself against others on social media. We also have a tendency to increase our stress levels with articles and posts that basically only serve to increase our blood pressure. By focusing on email and social media at certain times of the day, you are creating barriers that protect your time, creativity, and stress levels.
- Take a vacation. According to projecttimeoff.com, “more than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015. This adds up to 658 million unused vacation days. Additionally, “employees who take 10 or fewer days of vacation time are less likely to have received a raise or bonus in the last three years than those who took 11 days or more.” Many people do not take time off because it is not discussed by leadership. Not having time off increases levels of stress and has been shown to have adverse effects on health. By taking your time off, and openly discussing the benefits of time off, you are not only renewing yourself, but you are encouraging your organization to do what is necessary to be healthy and productive.
- Try something new. When you work hard at doing the same things all the time, you are building yourself a box, and it can be very difficult to get out of that box. So, live in the moment and try something new. Even if it is not related to work, learning a new skill or trying something new increases your brain’s neural plasticity, and can be a lot of fun! Break down that box, and explore the possibilities!
- Get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep effects their sleep at least once a week. Many Americans report good sleep quantity (average of 7 hours and 36 minutes per night), but not good sleep quality. Poor sleep quality means that you are not waking up and feeling refreshed. We are surrounded by stimuli for most of the day, and many leaders have a difficult time turning off. Work on establishing good sleep hygiene. No screens in the bedroom. Limit light and noise. Also, establish a sleep routine where you get up and and go to bed at the same time every day. This is a challenge with our schedules, and the desire to stay up and sleep in on the weekend. However, sleep is important. Evaluate your sleep habits, and look for where you can make improvements.
We get so caught up in the day to day tasks of our lives that sometimes we forget to take time for ourselves. So, spring has sprung. Take time to have fun, enjoy life, and take care of yourself. This is your opportunity to grow as a leader who is living and leading harmoniously.