I recently met up with an entrepreneur. She is doing everything she can for her company and its customers. Unfortunately, she feels as though all this giving is draining her. Her personal gas tank is getting empty. She has embarked on a very noble and ambitious campaign to re-charge.
My heart goes out to her.
All this made me think of "self care," and what we all need to do to re-energize. For this post, I won't cover those long stretches that can be depleting periods: those first months at home with a newborn child, the first months of incubating your start-up, or the stretches of caring for elderly parents. Instead, I'd like to cover the episodic random days, those days during which we just feel off our A-game.
I call them "dip days."
Dip days can happen for many apparent reasons--or, none at all. Everyone has them. I've learned over time that the following can help:
Cover the basics. Sleep, Nutrition, Water, Oxygen. Ask yourself: Are you sleeping enough, are you eating well, and are you hydrated?
It is amazing how "the basics" can often be overlooked. A business trip can throw us off schedule. Children are home and sick and kilter our schedules. We run, run, run. We forget to eat or chow down quick meals on the go. We (gasp) grab food without really replenishing. Now, make it happen to eat the "good" calories, vegetables, fruits, and skip the empty carbs.
Drink water, lots of water, more water than you can imagine ever drinking in a day. The Mayo Clinic has an easy to remember rule of thumb: "Drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day."
Now, did you know that every cup of coffee and every drink of alcohol actually dehydrates you? Try skipping the coffee or the alcohol for a week and see how your body naturally starts to regulate back to equilibrium.
Get eight hours sleep a night for a week. Go crazy even, and dare yourself to make it 10 hours sleep and see what happens. Make that commitment in your iPhone calendar and block off the "meeting" with your bed. Then, follow through with devices (all devices!) off and out of reach of buzzing, blinging and zapping you throughout the night.
You will feel much, much better.
Plan a work-out. A very long bike ride, run, or session at the gym is a great way to oxygenate the brain. Give yourself permission to just get outside even and take a walk around the block for some fresh air and see the natural sun. Often, when we get stressed these are the first things that get cut from our busy schedule. Add it back in, and see how your spirits improve.
Talk to an Advisor. I think everyone should have a personal Board of Advisors. Companies have Boards--why not people?
It's important to have a trusted person with whom you feel aligned to help navigate a tricky situation. And, to do so real-time if you can. It's tempting to process everything in your head before you "check in." It's understandable to want to hide feelings of weaknesses and/or shame.
Having Advisors is particularly critical for entrepreneurs. I think entrepreneurs are Jedis, and, for them, having a trusted Advisor is essential. Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan and Yoda. Together, they did great things.
IMO, the light side of The Force is this: real and pure unconditional love. The most productive and sustainable companies, sports teams, and families have this vibe. Tough to define, but you know it when you see it.
My 2 cents? Don't just select Advisors for their rolodex, expecting networking introductions. Find Advisors who inspire you, who create that feeling and a certain stir inside you. You can call it what it is, connection, emotion, or the "Light Side". You will know in your heart that these are the people who have your best interests foremost in their minds.
Name it. Call that day you're having a "dip day." Don't be embarrassed about it, you don't have to hide this. You may be surprised by what happens.
During one long week, a friend noticed that I sounded tired. I just named it ,"Yes, I was having a dip day". Lo and behold, that friend surprised me with some homemade brownies. On the aluminum foil was written this: "For dip days." Even seeing the words written down helped. I just accepted the situation vs. fighting it. And, those guilt-free brownies tasted great!
Sing, both in your head and out loud. Studies show that positive music is uplifting and energizing. You can choose to listen to Nirvana, The Smiths, or another "dark" band, but give a go to something positive and peppy. Songs that are affirming will lift your mood. Pharrell William's "Happy" song is one of my go-to choices. I watch the video, sing out loud, and, on occasion, even dance down the hallway. It just might be the most uplifting five minutes of your day.
Meditate/pray. I relish Thursday morning yoga class, my sacred time. My phone is shut off, and I am untethered, alone with my thoughts for 80 minutes of bliss. I honestly believe that this mindfulness dimension of our lives is usually overlooked. We often focus on what our bodies and minds need. But, what about our souls?
You may or may not identify with any religion. That is ok. But, I do know that that there's a part of our inner self that needs nourishing. Expand your horizons and find activities that most certainly feel as though they feed your soul.
Self care is super-important. Just do it!