“Who has time for a vacation?” Every leader or entrepreneur has probably said that, especially at the beginning of their careers. While that’s likely true to a point, what’s also true is the importance of engaging in good stress management by taking a healthy break.
What’s the criteria for a healthy break? Pretty simple: something that wipes your mind from work or family life. So here’s a list of stress-management, self-care strategies for busy leaders that can be done in 5 minutes, half hour, or a day.
Self-Care In Five Minutes
People Watch. Park your car in an unfamiliar, people-heavy location and watch the foot traffic. Try to guess the brands of their clothes or shoes. Even make up a story about one of the people you see.
YouTube Karaoke. Go to YouTube and search for a song you like but don’t know the lyrics to. Add “lyrics” to the end of the search. Now watch and sing along! I do this daily!
Power Down. Start with your phone- or phones, as many leaders have multiple! Remove the batteries. Turn off all the lights, screens, and machines in your office. Sit in your chair or lay on the floor. Look at the ceiling for about 60 seconds (count them out!), and then reverse the process.
Clean Your Vehicle’s Interior. Listen to an entertaining podcast while you do it.
A Half-Hour of Self-Care
Walk With A Soundtrack. Pick an action movie soundtrack. Put the earbuds on, turn the volume low, and go for a walk in the park or a few city blocks.
Have Lunch Somewhere New. Bring your lunch to a new (to you) public place like a park, or eat somewhere off the beaten path. Wherever it is, don’t bring your phone! Just observe what’s going on around you.
Watch Classic TV. Do you remember a sitcom from your childhood? Pull up your favorite episode (probably easy to do online) and watch. It will spark some interesting memories of good times and bad fashion.
Window Gaze. Find the tallest building in your town. Get to the highest floor you can handle and window gaze.
One Day (Yes, A WHOLE DAY!) Of Self-Care
Volunteer. What’s something about your city that’s lacking or is close to your heart? Find a volunteer opportunity for at least 8 hours. If someone asks what you do for a living, tell them, but quickly redirect the conversation about your work.
Geocache. Geocaching is the original “Pokemon Go!” You use coordinates to find a small “treasure” someone hid, and replace it with your own. It’s a neat way to get to know your surroundings or explore a new place.
Local(ish) Hotel For A Day. Get to a hotel at least an area code away. Use every amenity they have- the pool, gym, hot tub- and do next to nothing in the room except read a book or watch movies. Try it mid-week for a better rate. The hardest part is probably doing nothing.
Attend a Non-Professional class. Take a class in just about anything that has nothing to do with work. I suggest something that requires concentration but not a lot of brain processing or leadership skills on your end, like a spectator sport. It’s the perfect way to let someone else lead.
In the last 20 years I’ve managed to raise a family, earn two Master’s degrees, serve in the military, work for the federal government, head up several fundraisers for the homeless, and dive into the mental health field.
There’s no way I could have done even 10% of that without learning to take a healthy break for good stress management. And trust me, your empire will not collapse and your subordinates will live if you decide to breathe!
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