How to practise self care as an entrepreneur…
A guest blog by Pamela Rae-Welsh, Director of Worsley Creative Services.
As a business owner you wear so many hats that finding the time to do anything relating to personal health and wellbeing is often left to the very bottom of the to-do list. There is always a number of conflicting priorities that the belief and mindset that there just isn’t enough time to do something for yourself or work on your own development is strong; and more often than not, wins.
The evidence on the benefits of self-care for business owner is vast – take Amy Chen’s article in Entrepreneur magazine back in April 2019 for example. In this brilliant insight, Amy describes the effects of chronic high stress as costing the UK economy over £15bn, and how, as business owners we should consider self-care as an investment not a nice to have – and quotes that for every $1 spent on health and wellness there is a $14 return in productivity and happiness!
Considering the benefits, it has got me thinking that I need to find more time to invest in self-care activities and so I have come up with a few accessible suggestions that you might also find interesting, and most importantly, doable. If you don’t have the budget for far flung escapes or expensive gym memberships, it can trigger a “what’s the point” mindset – but there are some smaller things you can do which will pay dividends!
- Lock the bathroom door. Sounds stupid – but think about how often you rush your shower or bath, find yourself brushing your teeth while being asked where a piece of homework is or a dog looking up at you asking for a walk? Set yourself the boundary that you are alone in the bathroom. As long as kids and animals are safe and cannot access naked flames it is unlikely that they will be irreparably damaged by you going to the loo in peace and having time to actually use conditioner.
- Substitute one car journey for a walk. Not a walk in the howling rain and wind that is unavoidable (like walking the dog that so patiently asked while you were brushing your teeth) or the school run where the anxiety levels are at a peak; but one where you could take the car but choose not to. The important thing with this task is to not have your phone in your hand. Put it in your bag – or your pocket if it really needs to be accessible. Be responsible for no one or anything. Look up. Take in what is around you and use it as a chance to really think and let your brain have some freedom! This might sound a bit woo woo but honestly it is really liberating.
- Commit each week to getting exercise. If you can’t afford a class then youtube is an amazing resource of classes for all levels and abilities. The most important thing here is to exercise for how it makes you feel rather than how it makes you look, and to do it for fun, rather than because you think you should. I am going to commit to two types of exercise this year – Fitness at the Farm with Leah Maclean because I love being outdoors and Leah’s approach is so fun I am proud to be part of her tribe, and also yoga!! I have always be a yoga-phobe; intimidated by all those svelte, bendy, incredibly beautiful boho babes that make a tree pose look sexy (where I make a tree pose look – well – look like a tree!), so I am nervously entering the world of yoga because I know that I need to temper my hyper activity. I am so looking to working with Brenda Yoga – who is the kindest and most accessible yoga teacher I have ever come across. There are so many different types of exercise – when you are next on the loo with your phone (door locked of course) do a search and see what sparks your imagination.
- Start a wellness fund. Now this can be a jar that you add the odd 20p too and you treat yourself to a face mask when you get to £2, or you can set up an account that you add a standing order too. Whatever you can afford, put money aside that is purely for you to use on you. Whether it is treating yourself to a night at a wellness retreat like Chetham Farm, or enough for an afternoon tea at the local indulgent parlour – the important thing is it is only for you. The temptation to put all of your money into the children, or the house, or whatever priority is calling for funds, DO NOT DO IT. Get someone else to look after it if you must.
- Make human connections. Networking as a business owner can feel forced; talking to Mums at the school gate can feel intimidating; and speaking to old school friends can feel like a giant competition. Everything can feel overwhelming if you try to do it all; so focus on what makes you feel comfortable. I am not naturally confident in company (which normally really surprises people!) I do not make friends easily because in general, people don’t get me. I’m too hyper, too intense, too – well – much. So I am spending self-care time this year with curating my circle carefully, and doing an audit on spending time with people that do not bring me joy (sorry to use a Marie Kondo quote there!)
In my role as online visibility specialist I am often talking to entrepreneurs who are near burn out because they are putting everything into showing up for their business. Working with me to create their dream website design and digital presence they show the absolute best of themselves, but often neglect their own wellbeing – which means they can’t enjoy the spoils of their business earnings when they come. I am working now to support my clients with a more holistic approach to leadership and management. As part of this, in my online visibility membership group I have introduced the monthly mindset series which is hosted by counsellor and therapist Aislinn Marek of The Calm Within, and each month we focus on topics which benefit the wellbeing of members, not just their technical competence.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more to think about when it comes to self-care and finding time out. Maybe you have suggestions to add to this mix? The thing that I have learnt most recently however is to have a set of goals at different levels rather than just “big goals”. Small goals like taking a walk each day when I could drive are easier to achieve, finding the time to invest in a full weekend retreat will take me longer (but I am going to do it and can’t wait for Chetham Farm Retreat to look after me for a whole weekend). The most important thing is to recognise you need it… (and to lock the bathroom door – it is a GAMECHANGER!)
Pamela Rae-Welsh is a leading Manchester branding designer, website stylist and online visibility specialist. Based in Manchester and Oxfordshire, Pamela helps to support entrepreneurs with their digital marketing strategy. Passionate about providing small businesses with a big business toolkit so that they can operate at the top of their field, Pamela is also a parent, woman and human being – who has recently taken to locking the bathroom door!