The new year is well underway. So, how are you doing? No, how are you really doing? While the new year comes with anticipation of a new start, the reality of most people I encounter, is that the January we are experiencing seems to be a continuance of the December we left behind.
In my role at Nexus Family Healing, I work closely with the Executive Director team. This group of leaders is responsible for the overall functions at each of their respective agencies—to say the least, they have A LOT on their shoulders. One of my primary responsibilities is to ensure they have the resources, tools, and support to achieve their goals.
As a leader, the expectation to provide support to the team is not new. In fact, the desire to want to help and support others is an attribute that is hard-wired in us as human beings. But how is this accomplished when we ourselves may be struggling as leaders?
If you’ve ever flown, the mandatory safety demonstration provides instruction in the event the oxygen masks are needed. Passengers are always told to place their mask on first before assisting anyone else. The reason for this is simple: you cannot possibly provide support for anyone else until you have first addressed your own needs. The airlines are on to something – the same is true when it comes to wellbeing.
The Idea of Self-Care
There are many people who struggle with self-care. You may be one of them. The idea that you would put the focus on yourself first, rather than on the needs of others may sound selfish – it’s not. To be an effective support to others, we must first ensure we bring forth the best version of ourselves. It is not possible to fill another person’s fuel tank if ours is depleted.
As the stress of the past year continues into the new year, it has become evident that the path we are on is more of a marathon than a sprint. A common misperception is that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s not. Giving ourselves to the point of burnout is a short-term strategy that will eventually fail. This is no time to be a martyr as it will result in negative consequences for you, the team, and the business.
Forms of Self-Care
So, what have you done for yourself lately to rejuvenate and refuel? If you cannot readily come up with something, I urge you to take action – literally. Moving the body by taking a walk, stretching, participating in yoga or pilates can all clear the mind. However, don’t believe that physical exercise is the only way to calm your mind and refuel. Mental exercise such as guided imagery can also give you a much-needed break and positively impact your wellbeing.
I have a gift for all readers. Here’s a quick 2.5-minute relaxation session to help refill your tank. The only action required on your part is to click the link and enjoy being present in the moment with nothing on your mind but your breathing.
Give yourself permission to relax and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders for a brief time.
Remember all the challenges and hardships you faced in the past? It is from these experiences that we have the choice to become better or bitter. As a leader, your attitude toward self-care sets the standard for your team. Take the time to breathe and reset amongst the many challenges you and your team will face – everyone’s sanity and well-being will be better off for it. Burnout, overwhelming stress, and negativity can be crippling to both an individual and a team. Take care of yourself and see it as an act of great selflessness... because, it is!
This blog article was contributed by Bobbi Kochevar, Chief Officer of Child and Family Services for Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.