Why self-care should be a top priority

As I’ve written before, owning your own business can be an emotional roller coaster.

Oftentimes you’re the first one to rise, the last one to leave and the go-to person for a weekend emergency.

That’s why self-care is usually the first thing tossed out the window when things get stressful, or just too busy.

Contrary to popular belief, however, this “rise and grind” mentality could actually be harming your business. Why? The success of the organization depends on your ability to show up — physically and mentally — every day. This is impossible if you’re burning yourself out with a crazy schedule.

The following are three ways I’ve found to build self-care into a busy workweek.

Schedule ‘me maintenance’

To be the best leader you can be, start taking a proactive approach to your own health. Set aside a day or two every few months to knock out all of the physicals, doctor’s appointments, nutritionist check-ins, etc., that you need. I call these “me maintenance” days. If your back has been aching for three months, or you’ve yet to pick up your new contacts, do your team a favor and take care of it.

When you’re not in full health, or working with only half of your engines, you’re ultimately hurting the team. Make an effort to schedule these days, no matter how busy you are, and set an example for the rest of your team.

Go on vacation

I’m admittedly fairly bad at taking a vacation. I’m extremely passionate about the people and businesses I work with, and it’s truly hard to be “off the grid” while I’m away. That said, I know that time and space away from work is a catalyst for new ideas and a fresh perspective. If you can, take two weeks off to completely unwind. This is the ideal amount of time; any less and I never fully relax.

Don’t have vacation days? Get creative. Schedule an hour in the morning to drink your coffee in peace and quiet. Take the dog on a long walk the minute you get home. Build moments into your schedule, no matter how small, to step back from your business and just breathe.

Take a hike

No, seriously. Go take a hike. In a 2012 interview, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Raney said, “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.”

Need more convincing? Another 2012 study by the Montreal Heart Institute reported that adults that exercised four times a week had improved cognitive abilities after just four months. Translation: Taking a quick jog around the block before work every morning may make you a smarter, better business leader in the long run.

If you’re too busy for self-care, you’re too busy. Use these tactics to create a culture of self-care in your life to ensure you’re constantly re-energized and ready to lead.

This article originally appeared in the Tennessean