Our modern world is full of distractions and demands on our time. The always-connected lifestyle has resulted in widespread burnout and stress. This rampant epidemic of burnout and stress is the inevitable result of a culture that glorifies busyness and constant productivity.
We've all felt the strain at times - the pounding headaches, the lack of energy, the frayed nerves. It creeps up on us slowly, accumulating through our tendency to always put others first. Work deadlines, family obligations, social commitments - we spread ourselves thin trying to be everything to everyone. But we cannot pour from an empty cup. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary.
This blog provides perspective on how we can start to shift the narrative and prioritize our own wellbeing. By learning to set boundaries, take time for ourselves, and lead by example, we can start to move towards a more intentional and fulfilling life. The costs of disregarding our fundamental needs are simply too high, both for ourselves and those we care about. Join me on an exploration of simple but transformative ways we can choose ourselves every day. It starts with the realization that your well-being is the foundation for your success.
The Costs of Constantly Prioritizing Others
In today's fast-paced corporate world, it's easy to lose sight of what truly matters: our well-being. We often find ourselves caught in a never-ending cycle - continually prioritizing work, family, or social media while neglecting our own core needs. This continuous disregard can lead to a silent accumulation of stress, as we push ourselves to the limit day after day without taking time for real rest and rejuvenation. Eventually, this stress builds up to a breaking point, causing us to burn out or even implode.
Ignoring our fundamental needs takes a severe toll on both our mental and physical health. Without adequate rest, nutrition, and downtime for renewal, we are operating in a constant state of stress. This has been proven to impair cognitive functions like focus, memory and decision making. It also diminishes our creativity and emotional intelligence. In the long run, chronic stress leads to reduced productivity and effectiveness at work. It hinders our ability to connect empathetically with colleagues, team members and loved ones. The costs of ignoring our well-being are simply too high.
Learning to Prioritize "Me Time"
As individuals, we must recognize the importance of carving out non-negotiable "me time." It's not just about taking a break; it's about refilling our cup to serve others from a place of abundance. Simple daily practices like the following can keep us grounded:
Waking up slowly without an alarm
Enjoying lunch away from your desk and offline
Leaving work on time to enjoy a hobby or passion project
Scheduling time for reading or meditation before bed
Saying no to extra obligations in order to prioritize free time
Single-tasking instead of multi-tasking to be more present
Turning off notifications during meals or family time
Committing to just one "me day" monthly where you disconnect from work and obligations can also work wonders for our mental and emotional health. Protecting time for ourselves ensures we have the energy and focus needed to show up fully in our roles.
Learning to Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries is a crucial aspect of self-care. Many of us struggle with feelings of guilt or the fear of disappointing others when asserting our needs. However, healthy boundaries are essential for protecting our well-being and preventing burnout.
Learning to set clear personal and professional limits allows us to devote our energy towards what matters most. This gives us the ability to show up as our best selves each day.
Setting boundaries requires practice and commitment. Here are some tips:
Know your limits. Reflect on your needs and create a list of your non-negotiables. Determine what is draining versus nourishing for you.
Don't apologize for your boundaries. You do not need to justify taking care of yourself. Be kind but firm.
Learn to say "no." Declining requests that overextend you is crucial. It's not selfish - it allows you to maintain your priorities.
Limit distractions. Identify activities that divert your time and energy. Minimize unnecessary obligations whenever possible.
Communicate proactively. Politely inform others of your boundaries instead of waiting to be asked.
Enforce consequences. Follow through if someone disrespects your clearly stated boundaries.
Remember, you teach people how to treat you. By honoring your own limits unapologetically, you demonstrate self-respect. You give others permission to do the same. With healthy boundaries, we can devote our best self to what matters most.
As leaders, we might face judgment for prioritizing self-care, but it's crucial to stay true to our values. By communicating with compassion and demonstrating the benefits of self-care, we can influence others to recognize its importance. I've seen firsthand the positive impact of prioritizing rest, nutrition, and downtime on my mental health, relationships, and productivity.
Blocking off lunch breaks to eat away from my desk has also been hugely beneficial. It's a chance to clear my head, get some fresh air and reset. I come back to my work more inspired and able to see challenges from new angles.
Likewise, being disciplined about leaving work on time, turning off email notifications in the evenings and taking regular vacations has done wonders for my mental clarity and creativity. I find solutions come to me more easily when I'm well rested.
By being vocal about these practices and how they help me be a better leader, I'm able to demonstrate their value and inspire team’s to adopt similar habits. My hope is that we can create a culture that celebrates rest and work-life balance. The benefits for our people and organization as a whole could be immense.
Reflection: Choosing Ourselves through Intentional Living
As we reflect on the importance of making ourselves a priority, I invite you to choose a single word that will serve as your guiding light this year. This one word will be a reminder to live and lead intentionally by prioritizing your well-being.
What is the word that you will reflect on when you need to refill your cup? The word that will give you permission to care for your mind, body and spirit? The word that will help you set boundaries with compassion?
Choose your word thoughtfully. Let it signify your commitment to yourself and your health. Write it down somewhere you'll see it often. Reflect on it daily. Let it ground you when you feel depleted. Use it as your North Star to navigate the twists and turns of life.
I encourage you to reflect deeply on your word. Let it sink into your heart and mind. Repeating it to yourself, believe in the promise and potential it holds. You deserve to make yourself a priority. You are worth choosing each and every day. Your well-being is the foundation for living your purpose.
May your one word remind you who and whose you are. You've got this.
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."* - Jim Rohn
Latisha B. Russell holds many titles. Emotional Wellness Coach | Leadership Coach and Consultant who helps leaders prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and practice intentional living. With over 20 years of experience working with individuals and helping them say YES to themselves, I have seen firsthand the toll that constant prioritization of work and others can take. I am passionate about helping leaders lead by example and commit to their own wellbeing as the foundation for personal and professional success.
Prioritize self-care to avoid burnout. Set boundaries, recharge, and remember your health underpins success.