Sara Louise Fox
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I Gave Myself The Day Off And The World Didn’t End

In my last blog post, I talked about starting your day right so that you have lots of energy to be productive and focused when working in and on your business. Sometimes, however, things stop you in your tracks regardless of your good intentions.

Do you ever have a day like this... you wake up, do your morning routine (feeling slightly smug about it) including the meditation, journalling, and healthy breakfast. You sit down to do some client work thinking - oh my gosh I'm on fire. Then it happens... the spangles!


"Spangles is" my affectionate term for that weird wibbly visual effect that I get in my eyes at the start of a migraine - I think the technical term is an ocular migraine and the effect is called aura. Let's just say that it is not conducive to trying to look at a computer screen, or anything else for that matter. I know that my migraines are super-mild compared to some but the only option when this happens is to let my clients know that I'm (shock, horror!) having the day off!

Oh The Guilt!

This doesn't happen to me very often but it did happen recently and, after sleeping off the worst of it and still feeling a bit too fragile to do any work, I spent a good chunk of time beating myself up for having the day off. I don't know why. It's exactly what I would have told any of my clients or nearest and dearest to do. And I know it was the only option to get this horrible feeling to pass and avoid throwing myself out for a good few days. Yet it took me a while to settle into just relaxing and recovering.

It reminded me of when I told a friend and coach a while back that I was feeling rough and said "I wanted to call in sick on my own business" and she said "but you can!" Oh!

I've always believed the most important thing is to look after yourself and, if you get sick, do what you need to do to get better so you can get back to being your best. However, like many of us (is it just women?) I felt guilty about doing this myself. But guess what...

The World Didn't End!

I didn't get struck by lightening. My clients hadn't all left me by the time I logged into my computer the next morning. The world hadn't been taken over by zombies while I slept.

In fact, I think my body was making me have the day off following a pretty busy time that I had found quite emotionally and mentally stressful. I had been feeling like I should have the day off for a while but brushed those feelings aside until physically I had no choice but to stop.

"Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” ~ Stephen Covey

... And that's just what I had done. I had put off something important until it became urgent. In fact many of us do this on a much grander scale, ignoring the signs until we get to full on burnout or even breakdown. Most of us know in theory this is a bad idea but don't really pay attention until it's too late. Self-care isn't just important to avoid burn-out though, it's important if we want to be our best in our day-to-day life and work.

Self Care "Sharpens the Saw"

Sharpen the saw

Stephen Covey, author of the classic "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" was a very clever man, and he described looking after your health (physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional) as "Sharpening the Saw" this was the 7th habit he described in the book and "...the habit that makes all the others possible."

He uses the metaphor of coming across someone in the woods trying to saw down a tree, they have been going for over 5 hours and are understandably exhausted. When you suggest taking a break to sharpen the saw to make things go faster you get the response: "I don't have time to sharpen the saw... I'm too busy sawing!" When you are "too busy" for self-care, you are neglecting the very thing that will help you to achieve more from day to day.

Top Tip:

Make the first available time slot in your day about you. Whether you get your waking hours all to yourself so you have time to do a full on self-care ritual, or you need to wait until your little people have their first nap of the day or go to nursery/school just to grab 5 minutes to meditate, make this non-negotiable! 

Self Care Enables you to Perform at your Best

Perform at your best

A book I often refer back to is "On Form: Achieving High Energy Performance Without Sacrificing Health and Happiness and Life Balance." In the book Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz again focus on boosting four areas of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They say:

"...physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creatively, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on."

 I don't know about you but that really struck a cord with me. If looking after yourself physically could help you be more creative, focused, emotionally resilient and even achieve your mission, doesn't it make sense to do it?

Top Tip:

Limited time? Ask the magic question! From another of my favourite books, The ONE Thing. Ask yourself the question "What one thing would make everything else easier or unnecessary?" and start with that. When I ask this question, the answer is usually get more sleep!

Self Care is not the Reward, it's part of the Process

Perform at your best

I came across this concept on this fab blog post about self-care and thought it's a brilliant way of looking at how most of us treat self-care at least some of the time.

Have you ever felt hungry but made yourself do a bit more work before you let yourself take a break to eat? Have you ever put off exercising until you are less busy but "less busy" never came? Have you put off going on holiday because you want to get your business to a certain point before you "treat yourself"? Then you'll understand what I mean.

By making self-care part of the process, you can find time for it and do everything you need to do. This can be as simple as a 5 minute meditation each morning and a 30 minute lunch break each day following by a walk around the block. Start small but treat it as an important part of your schedule, just like a client appointment.

Top Tip:

Write self-care into your business plan, operational plan or business vision. You'd agree that any company worth it's salt should have some kind of employee wellbeing strategy as a key way to prevent absenteeism (or worse, presentee-ism). Why shouldn't you have the same for the most important employee in your business - you!

Over to you...

Is self-care an important part of your business? Or do you know it should be but don't prioritise it? I love to read your tips, tricks and insights, so please share in the comments box below.

About the Author Sara Louise Fox

I am passionate about women in business achieving success in a way that works for them and making the changes they need to make in order to make that happen. However, though change can be exciting it can also be scary, triggering behaviours that might not make sense to you (procrastination or self-sabotage anyone?). I help entrepreneurial women to navigate change with more clarity, confidence and courage so that these behaviours can be dissolved and they can move forward with ease and flow. If that sounds good, I'd love to hear from you!

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