Self Care: Find What Fits
By Lynn Branigan
Type the words “women” and “self-care” into your favorite search engine and the results will give you pages and pages (and pages) of links to articles, studies, medical professionals, gyms, ecommerce sites, books, gurus, and more. There at your fingertips will be lists of self-care ideas and recommended behaviors. You can learn what successful women do to promote self-care. And how.
At first glance, the advice looks pretty consistent: Make time to exercise; schedule time to be alone, or to meditate, or to read. And lots of self-care “to do” lists have common recommendations for healthy eating, learning how to say “no”, turning off the TV, finding positive influences, helping others. Every idea is useful and can apply to most people.
But I’m noticing something else. Occasionally the persistent encouragement to pursue self-care can become yet another demand on a woman’s life. The advice from well-meaning friends, doctors and partners can feel a little too stringent:
- “You need to make time to work out.”
- “Tell your boss you can’t work over the weekend.”
- “Get up earlier to meditate.”
To me, self-care should feel good. It should nurture … the heart, the soul, the body, the brain. I am a passionate believer in self-care. My personal version is walking 5 days a week, and I just gave myself a 30-day yoga challenge, because whenever I invest 20 minutes in yoga I feel like an entirely new person. That’s me. It might not be you.
You have to choose what’s best for you. And if self-care becomes a chore, you should probably re-evaluate the choices you are making and the steps you are taking. If getting up at 5 am to go to the gym feels more like a grind than a gift to your mind, maybe you should consider another approach (although be sure to factor in how positive you might feel after the gym).
I believe one of the greatest expressions of self-care is to simply lighten up on ourselves. Give ourselves permission to be less than perfect. Forgive ourselves for a dish of ice cream or sleeping in late. Celebrate the little victories, like taking a walk during the lunch break, or pausing for 10 minutes to breathe in and out with intention.
Paving the way for more women to lead at every level of marketing, media and tech means recognizing that no two paths to leadership are going to be identical. And no two women are going to pursue success – or self-care – in exactly the same way. I congratulate every woman who finds time to administer care to herself in her singular, exemplary fashion.