I’m pretty sure you know what a reservoir is, and you’d be aware that in times of rain they overflow and in times of drought the reserves can drop to dyer levels. However when was the last time you checked in with your own internal emotional reservoir?
Our emotional reservoir is a lot like the ones that hold water, they need monitoring and to be replenished regularly otherwise we can end up emotionally bankrupt with nothing left in the tank for ourselves, those we lead or those we love.
So why is this important to leaders, or more specifically those with a feminine leadership style (whether they be male or female)?
Those with a more intuitive well rounded leadership style tend to be much more sensitive to the needs of others, they’re more in tune with their people and they care about them personally and professionally. They desire great outcomes for their people and their organisation and they give their ALL to their role. The real danger arrives when they keep giving without replenishing their own internal resources.
If you think about your day to day life, you’ll realise that you’re dipping into your reserves all the time. At work you’re asked to make difficult decisions that will impact others, you coach and mentor your team members and perhaps you’re a sounding board for your colleagues or even your manager. In your personal life you may have family and friends who require your support, and if someone close to you is having a difficult time you may well be giving a lot of time and emotional energy to that person. Or perhaps you have a big project on the go at work and you find yourself working way more hours that usual.
On top of all this, you have your own emotional needs and from time to time you may not only give out our reserves you can become so busy with everyone and everything else you stop doing all the things that fill your tank, like exercise, quite time with a good book, special time with those we love, date night, planning for a holiday, ensuring there is food that nourishes your body on hand and time out that nourishes your soul and perhaps even your sleep has been compromised. All this can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.
So how do we ensure that as leadership professionals and as husbands, wives, partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters…well you get the picture, that we have all the emotional and physical energy to feel for filled, happy and emotionally stable?
I believe there are two main components to this
Good Self Care Practices or Habits
Self care looks different for each of us, for some taking care of us is a solitary pursuit enjoying your favourite hobby, taking long bubble baths, reading a book, exercising, whilst for others they’re energised and have their cup filled by sharing the experiences with others and perhaps they enjoy group activities social time with friends as a way of filling their emotional cup. Either way is fine however I would encourage you to take a look of what good self care looks like for you. It may even be a combination of solitude and social activities.
Your Self Care List – what does your self care list look like? Mine includes things like ensuring I eat well with lots of fresh food as I find avoiding things like wheat, refined sugars and processed food helps as those foods tend to give me brain fog and make me feel lethargic. Drinking plenty of water, ensuring I get some sunshine, including physical movement a few times a week, and getting a good nights sleep. This usually entails ensuring I am in bed by no later than 10.30pm. When I am feeling depleted I make time to do things like head to the beach, as it’s my happy place and always makes me feel re-energised and centred.
What does your list look like? I’d love you to share them in the comments as they’re sure to inspire others.
So what are your boundaries? The things you put in place which are non negotiable, for example leaving work by no later than 5.30pm so you can be home to eat dinner with your family or be able to go to the gym on your way home prior to dinner. Perhaps it’s not taking work home or never working on the weekend. It could be not taking work calls at home, always taking a lunch break away from your desk, only drinking alcohol on the weekend. In general your boundaries will help keep your self care priorities in place, they really do go hand in hand.
I’d encourage you to make self care a daily practice and to think about where firmer boundaries might help you both fill and preserve your physical and emotional energy and lead to you feeling more for filled in both your personal and professional life.
You may also enjoy this article on Personal Boundaries and Empowered Selfishness