POP QUIZ: When is the last time you took a day off?
- Last week?
- Last month?
- Last year??
When my clients and students come to me and say they’re feeling stuck, stalled, or worn out by their business THAT is the first question I ask.
Because if everything is difficult and you’re procrastinating more than usual there’s a good chance you’re headed for burnout.
But adding in self-care as an actual business strategy can help.
This week on The Dare to Grow show I’m talking through 5 self-care strategies that are just as important as all of my list building, sales, and social media strategies.
Links + Resources
The Solopreneur Success Journal: xosarah.com/ssjournal
Gala Darling’s High Vibe Honey
The breathwork app I’m using: Breathwrk
The Essentials: xosarah.com/essentials
Feeling like your work is hard or stressful non-stop is a sign of burnout. The degree to which it’s affecting your business and how hard it is to get things done will tell you whether you are headed into burnout or you’re already in there.
Often we leave ourselves for last – after our client work, after business tasks, after our friends and family. We might have a moment for ourselves. But really, you need to be taking time off and adding things into your schedule to recharge instead of viewing it as a luxury or a treat when it should just be part of your weekly schedule.
One of my main concerns is always maintaining my energy. I’ve learned that it’s easier to show up, to come up with new ideas, to solve problems when you have energy. I’m an introvert who spends a lot of time on zoom calls and creating video. So I’ve put habits and practices into place to help keep that energy going.
This week I want to share some of the things that have been working for me lately because I love to learn and experiment and try new things.
1 – Schedule time off
Let’s talk about time off first. If you are on the stressed out burnout struggle bus this is the first thing you should do. Even, and especially, if you have some deadlines coming up or you feel like you can’t take a day off. Because the longer you wait the worse the stress gets. If you add it into your schedule now as a regular part of your workweek you won’t get to a place where you are forced to take weeks or months off.
I have seen more than one entrepreneur disappear for months and then come back saying it was burnout.
It’s like the equivalent of spending money on all kinds of skincare (because that is something I love to do) but then not wearing sunscreen – it’s going to defeat everything you have already done. Rest and time off is the protection you need to keep your business going. I know you’re buying all the courses and templates and investing in platforms, you need to add time off into that list of investments.
And when I say time off I mean fully away from the laptop, the emails, Instagram, going through courses and watching workshops, or doing stuff for clients.
This means taking regular days off every week – doesn’t have to be Saturday and Sunday – but you need permanent days off in your schedule so you have that space to recharge.
The building I live in has a pool and I’ve decided that I need to take advantage of that so I’m scheduling myself at least one hour at the pool every week. I was talking to a neighbor and he said, “I never go to the pool because I forget to schedule it” and I said, “I only go to the pool because I schedule it”. I treat it like any other business task – I make it a priority and show up on time. If I have Essentials coaching calls or lives or client sessions I’ll book my pool time after that because showing up and talking takes a lot of energy so that acts as my recovery time.
You can also schedule something like this; it doesn’t have to be an actual appointment or going somewhere. Schedule an hour during your day to sit outside and read. Or you soak in the bathtub. Or take a nap.
We as a society have a hard time taking a break during the week. I’m gonna blame that on a capitalist patriarchal society that tells us we have to hustle 24/7. And maybe that works when you’re an employee but when you run a business you can’t turn it off so you have to build in time off and be strict about sticking to it.
So, I invite you to find a space in your day where you would usually be pushing yourself to do one more thing. Instead of pushing through, take an hour to yourself to just be quiet, to soak up some sun, to do something pleasurable and see how that makes you feel instead.
Another thing I’ve implemented this year is to take the last week of every quarter off. I have 4 weeks of vacation as a permanent part of my schedule where I might do vacationy things or I might just lay around and do nothing. That at least gives me a baseline for time off and then I can always add more. I’m taking off two weeks soon to go home and see my family which will be in addition to those 4 weeks.
This is so important because if you’re in your business 24/7 you have no space to let your ideas simmer or to take a step back and look at the big picture or to get inspiration elsewhere.
We’ve just ended a quarter so if this sounds like something you need, give yourself that week now or mark off the end of August to take some time off then.
2 – Hiring
Hiring is obviously a business strategy but it’s also a self-care strategy. I’ve been really busy the past couple of months. I’ve had a lot on my plate and I’ve been feeling really tired because I’m taking on too much.
Instead of trying to automate or systematize my way into having more time, I decided to hire someone to help do all the little admin stuff.
Hiring people doesn’t have to be just a thing you do when your business grows. It can be something you do so you have more time for the tasks that are in your zone of genius. Or it could allow you to work less hours and spend more time with your family. It could allow you to take on more clients – if you saved one hour every day by paying someone $20 to do that work, then you could take on a client at $500. Ask yourself if spending $20, $40, $80 a week would be worth it to make an extra $500.
I knew it was time to hire more help when I kept finding myself recording my podcast episodes on the weekend. It would be Sunday night and I’m trying to finish the edits and record, the whole time thinking – why does this keep happening? Or rather…why do I keep doing this to myself?
I also had a few trainings I wanted to create that I kept pushing back in my schedule and so I realized I needed to take some things off my plate so I have more time for the higher level / zone of genius tasks.
And it doesn’t always have to be business help – what tasks during your week are annoying, take a lot of time, or you’re not skilled at it so it’s frustrating? Maybe you need someone to run a few errands or fold the laundry or walk the dog.
We just talked about the importance of taking time off so if you’re feeling like that’s impossible right now, you need to hire some help.
3 – Journaling
I’ve been talking about journaling for a while now but up until the last two years, I was a terrible journaler. I liked to buy journals but I was never someone who would sit down to write every day.
I think what changed is that instead of writing about what was happening and trying to make a record of my life, I was just dumping all my thoughts, however weird or messy, and that felt really good. I felt relief when I was done. Sometimes I write affirmations or what I want in the future. (I’ve heard people say writing is a spell, which I love.) So, I imagine that I’m writing a request and it helps me visualize what I want, think through the possibilities, and sometimes make an action plan for how to get that.
Taking the expectations out of journaling, not having a purpose for it and just letting myself write whatever I want has helped me stick with it.
4 – Tapping
Tapping, also called EFT or the emotional freedom technique, is something I’ve learned from Gala Darling. It has been so powerful in helping me feel more positive and confident over the past couple of months. I joined her High Vibe Honey membership which has lots of tapping videos and I do one almost every morning.
Tapping is a combination of physically tapping on meridian points on the body and saying out loud kind of affirmations to move negative energy, thoughts, feelings out of the body and to bring positive thoughts, feelings, and energy into the body. It’s kind of similar to EMDR that you’d do with a therapist but you can do it at home.
It’s about 20 to 30 minutes long and is a great morning activity because I can do it as I’m still waking up. (Like when Hazel wakes me up at 7am to go out and I don’t really want to go back to sleep.) It’s very energizing and gets me motivated first thing in the morning.
If you’re like me and meditation makes you sleepy but you don’t feel like working out it’s a nice in-between.
I’ve tapped on perfectionism, playing bigger, not worrying about what other people think, letting go of a stressful situation.
And there’s been another interesting effect that’s coming from both tapping and #5 of my list, which is breathwork.
5 – Breathwork
This is the one I started doing most recently. I’ve been using a breathwork app for the past month and there’s some weird things happening that I totally didn’t expect.
I mostly use it at night to help me fall asleep and that works really well, but I’m also noticing that during the day I’m catching my negative thoughts more often.
Maybe you’ve heard someone say we are not our thoughts, we are the observer of the thoughts, so the one listening to the thoughts and then interpreting them. I’m finding myself hearing those thoughts and then thinking about them before I do something.
I’ve actually caught myself this past week saying really negative things to myself. This is kind of embarrassing to admit but as I was getting something out of my dresser drawer I looked in the mirror and my brain said the word “loser” loud and clear. I was already moving away to leave the room as I realized it and I stopped myself, went back to the mirror, looked myself in the face and said, “I’m cute and living my best life!”
And this has happened multiple times where I hear that negative thought, stop, figure out where it’s coming from and why I’m judging myself, and then pick a more positive thing to say instead.
I’m actually surprising myself with how much clearer those negative thoughts have been. Obviously, I don’t have scientific proof, but I do think that tapping and breathwork have allowed me to be more present and notice it.
So these are just a few things that I’m focused on right now to improve my mindset and keep my energy high so that when I am working I feel focused, motivated, and excited.
You don’t have to do every single one of these every day. I know for some of you having two hours of rituals is not going to fit into your schedule which is totally understandable. But if you could find an hour every week or 30 minutes every day to do something purposeful to make sure that your mind and body are working for you it will help you avoid sliding into the dreaded burnout.
And you will start to see results in how you feel about yourself and about your business and how you’re able to show up.