The Importance of Self-Care – 3 Essential Ingredients
As I mentioned last week, I’ve taken a bit of time out as I recovered from an accident. This break has been a valuable learning experience for me. Here, I look at the three things I realised are essential for self-care.
When I had an accident and ended up in hospital and rehab, I was out of action for the best part of two months.
While pre-accident me would have found this situation incomprehensible – (there’s clients to be contacted! People and horses to be looked after!*) – the situation was such that there was no option but to slow down and focus on getting better.
There’s nothing like breaking your back for a hard dose of reality. Not only was a forced to look at how I should nurture my body, but I was confronted with the fact that looking after your mind needs to go alongside this.
Here are some of the lessons I learnt, which will also help me as we continue our leadership and team development work here at Leading Edge Professional Development.
Essential number 1. Eat well
This might sound obvious, but then how many of us actually follow through with this all the time?
Before I had my accident, I thought I was basically eating healthily, but then I’d skip breakfast or lunch and get so hungry later on I’d grab something unhealthy on the go. Many of us are probably the same. We have the best intentions to eat well, but we let out eating habits slip under the excuse of ‘being busy’. For example, only 4% of Australian adults eat enough vegetables. Yikes! We’re also one of the most obese countries on earth.
Now I’ve recovered, I physically feel the need to have the right fuel to function properly. My body is already working hard to recover and if it doesn’t get that fuel – quality and quantity – it will shut down due my residual neurological challenges. Which makes you realise how much you can neglect your body when you’re otherwise well. It’s just you’re better able to compensate for the poor treatment you’re giving yourself.
Having said that, it’s also important to allow yourself the chance to indulge. I still enjoy coffee and the occasional glass of bubbles or wine even though they have a greater impact upon me than they did before. Yet they bring me pleasure and social connection, so I don’t deprive myself of them entirely. Balance is the key.
Essential number 2: Exercise
We all need to keep moving. It is so important for our health. Post-accident, if I don’t, then I feel it in right away in my muscles, bones and bodily functions.
Also, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore and there are ways to make it fun. I’ve been walking every day with my beautiful dog, Raffy, and one or other friend or family member, which is so wonderful. We choose a different interesting walk to mix things up – sometimes coastal, other times bushland or around our suburb.
And I’ve been putting my daily walks towards a good cause for the mental health charity RUOK? – if you’re in a position to sponsor me I’d be very grateful. I love what this charity stands for “the life-changing power of connection and conversation.”
Essential number 3: Read
Whatever you read is up to you, from hard-hitting facts to the fluffiest of fiction. The important thing is that reading nurtures your mind. Factual books have so much to teach us about the world, and fiction about human nature and creativity. Both open our minds, and keep them open.
What are my favourite recent reads?
Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. For me, this book was such a great reminder of simple truths. She talks about courage, compassion and connection – which are very similar to the words of our own motto here at Leading Edge (Confidence. Consciousness. Compassion). Definitely a kindred spirit!
Jay Shetty, Think Like a Monk. I was grateful to be able to read this book at this time in my life. I enjoyed how he talked about paring life back to what’s important, and being grateful and kind.
Eddie Jaku, The Happiest Man on Earth. A very inspiring book, and one line that stuck with me was when he described the human body as ‘the best machine ever made’. You can probably guess how deeply that one rings true right now!
What are yours?
What do you find essential for your self-care? Let us know in the comments. And for more information about leadership training with Leading Edge Professional Development, email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Our horses were very well taken care of in my absence by my family and staff at Willow Wood Stables, home of Leading Edge