Hope you are well today.
When I left my day job a year and a half ago to work on Emerald and Lime full-time, I read a lot about becoming a business owner, about working for yourself and, more particularly, about working from home. There was a lot of recurring advice about self-care (a term I don’t particularly like, but that doesn’t matter, so let’s go with it for now 😉). Anyway, I read a lot about not overworking, about ensuring you have healthy living practices in terms of eating, hydrating and exercising and about methods to cope with stress and anxiety to guard your mental health. All these “non-business” aspects of running a business were stressed to be as important as the business related aspects such as marketing, networking and social media.
I’ll be honest and say that when I was reading this I thought, ‘Well, that’s all a bit obvious, really,’ and continued on my merry way, sure that I’d take care of myself just fine because I thought it’d be easy to do.
It was only after a few months of preparing to launch the business that I realised I had fallen into every single trap.
I wasn’t taking regular breaks. When I had “time off”, my mind was still firmly in all things Em and Lime. I would do bits and pieces of work even if I was supposedly having a day away from my desk. My brain was constantly whirring and it was completely overwhelming.
I didn’t really take proper breaks during the day either. I wasn’t getting much fresh air, I was very sedentary and it was hit and miss whether or not I did my morning exercise routine.
The result of all this was that I was tired, anxious, felt unhealthy and, although I never really doubted I’d done the right thing by leaving work to start the business, I did start to doubt the business and everything about it.
It was when I realised one day that I’d only taken a seven minute break (long enough to cook and eat a poached egg) that I started to feel ashamed of myself for doing it all wrong and for thinking taking care of myself would happen without any thought or intention.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I was working 24/7 – far from it. I was just as involved as ever with my guys and the house and also with my parents for various reasons over the months. So it wasn’t that I was always working but, when I wasn’t, I felt guilty because it was taking me longer than I hoped to get Em and Lime up and running. Because of that, the idea of using up time for proper breaks, exercise, or (let’s take a deep breath before we use the term again) any form of “self-care” felt like unnecessarily using up time I didn’t have to spare.
I could go on for a few more hundred words about this but, long story short, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I think part of my problem was that, when I was at my day job, many of the components of how I’m interpreting “self-care” happened by default. I took a lunch break because I wanted to catch up with friends, I was commuting, so I got the exercise of walking to and from the bus, and I was out in the fresh air for at least some of the day in order to get to work and back. The structure of the day was different and, when the structure of my day changed, I didn’t think about what would be missing as a result.
This is the part where I should tell you that, as soon as the penny dropped, I implemented a self-care routine and that I now look and feel fabulous.
I didn’t and I don’t.
I’ve skirted round the edge of the issue, enough to stop things getting worse, but there’s still much more I need to incorporate into my day and I need to do so intentionally. The silly thing is, I know that everything else would then become easier too, that I would be more productive work-wise and see benefits within the business.
I know this.
But it’s hard to break bad habits and get into good ones, isn’t it? And given that we’re now heading into autumn, it’s only going to get trickier to go out and about voluntarily! I have been running off and on since spring, but I know myself well enough to know that there’s no way I’ll be getting up at 5.30am when it’s dark and cold to go running round the streets.
But it’s time to do something. I’ve done some goal setting and made what I consider to be a realistic plan involving exercise, hydration and fresh air. I now just need to build the habit and DO IT.
This has nothing to do with starting a business, that's just what I happened to be doing when I knocked myself off track. It has everything to do with being intentional about making positive changes in our daily lives. If this resonates with you, if there are good habits you know you want to get in to, (whether health and self-care related, work related, home upkeep related or anything else), why not think about starting now and we can get into good habits together?
Three tips I been thinking about to help us get started:
- Plan realistically. Be honest with yourself about what you definitely won’t do. I’ve found it’s easy to have lofty ideas about doing XYZ while sitting on the couch not doing it. Don’t take on too much at once, start small with only one, or just a few, good habits that you want to develop. Any step in the right direction is, well, a step in the right direction.
- Keep track of the habit(s) you’re building. Either you’ll feel good about having a string of achievements, or it will be very obvious quickly what’s not working for you and you’ll be able to change it. You can get a blank copy of my daily habit tracker here or by clicking the image below. Print it out, decide what you’re going to do and get tracking!
- Get into the mindset that whatever you’ve been putting off doing is not a waste of time. For example, when it comes to self-care, I do genuinely understand now that you’re actually doing those around you a disservice if you don’t take care of yourself. Therefore, re-directing some time towards building a good self-care routine isn’t selfish, it’s helpful to everyone.
Sidenote: It would be even more helpful to everyone if we could come up with a better term for it. 😉
So that’s where I’m at. I’ve done a pretty poor job of self-care over the past 18 months or so, but I’m determined to get my act together.
Are you with me?
If so, get the daily habit tracker here and good luck!