Simple steps to decompress
Founders who model self-care can help employees manage stress and create a culture that prioritizes mental health.
Just relax. Easier said than done, right? If you’re building a company and growing a team, chances are pretty good that you’re experiencing significant stress. There’s the financial risk, pressure to deliver on the mission, the responsibility of leading (and paying) a team, and long work hours to balance with time for family members and friends.
We hear you. It’s a lot.
While hustle culture has glorified relentless hours and normalized overworking, there’s nothing glorious about the impact work-related stress can have on mental and physical health. So, let’s focus on the upside: It doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. There are simple, practical changes you can make as a leader to tend to your own well-being and foster a culture that supports mental health.
Five steps to prioritize and share the benefits of self-care:
1. Check-in with yourself.
How are you? No, really. As a founder, ask yourself how you’re coping with the stress of your own position as leader of your company. Self-awareness and self-compassion can be important first steps in taking care of yourself — which will ultimately help you take better care of your team and company, too.
2. Take care.
Self-care is not a dirty word. After taking the time to think about how you’re experiencing stress and how it may be affecting you physically or emotionally, make plans to take care of yourself. And no, self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent — it’s essential.
Self-care will look different for each person, and the most important factor in building the habit is finding an activity that brings you joy and contributes to your well-being. Make a list of which activities check that box for you — it could be regular exercise, a cup of tea in the afternoon, getting outside, or spending time with friends.
3. Put it on the calendar.
If you’re having trouble making time to take care of yourself, put it on the calendar. Whether that means blocking time for a 10-minute meditation, a 30-minute walk, or a day off when you need to reset, schedule it like you would a professional priority. Don’t forget to take longer vacations when (or before) you need them, too — which will in turn make your employees feel empowered to do the same.
4. Track your progress.
Once you’ve discovered self-care activities that bring you joy and are making a difference in how you feel, tracking how and when you care for yourself can help sustain momentum and support the habit. Consider using a habit tracker app, a self-care journal, a meditation app, or making a note in your calendar or daily to-do list.
5. Share your strategies.
Once you’ve put on your own oxygen mask, lead by example and share your self-care strategies with your team to model the behavior for your company. Did you take a Friday off for a hike or time with family? Share a photo and describe the benefit of the experience. Have you been using a mindfulness app? Tell your team about it. Finally, if you’re in a position to provide a wellness stipend, mental health benefits, or other perks to encourage healthy habits among your team, consider offering those benefits company-wide.