The importance of self-care within business

Written by Penny Power on 14 December 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

A nice reflective piece to end the year - Penny Power OBE reminds us to be kind to ourselves.

Reading time: 4 minutes.

When we start working, we tend to define our whole being by what we are, what we achieve and what success is. ‘What’ is a word we use to explain so many aspects of our daily life. 

Time controls us, rushing from one place to the next, from one challenge to another, and beating down the needs of others to ensure we don’t let anyone down. We fear saying ‘help’ as we cannot show our vulnerabilities; we can’t say ‘I can’t keep up’. 

The increase of ‘leavism’, a phenomenon of ‘taking holiday time to catch up’, is an example of the demands on us at work. 

We lose sight of ‘who’ we are. The four elements that make us a whole functioning and healthy person are: the ‘emotions I have’; the ‘mind I have’; the ‘soul I have’; and the ‘body I have’. These are four critical parts of you, four choices you can make in your life to manage and look after. 

As a child I was told I was too sensitive.In my first job in business I was told I was too emotionally attached to people. I tried hard to be a tough person, but I couldn’t change who I was. I also believed that meditation and yoga were for ‘tree huggers’, and I thought that anyone that exercised must be slightly insane and have far more time on their hands than I did.

The increase of ‘leavism’, a phenomenon of ‘taking holiday time to catch up’, is an example of the demands on us at work.

And then... I broke. 

Small cracks emerged in my emotions, in my resilience, in my management of tough situations, in my ability to have a calm inner voice and in my physical wellbeing. Externally, I smiled; I took on loads of work, I appeared in control and I looked okay. Anyone would think ‘she’s on top of the world, throw anything at her and she will get it done’. 

However, internally, I was hurting - my heart was a little broken through loss, my mind was a little broken through disappointment and frustration, my inner voice was negative and trying to problem solve all the time and my body was tired all the time.

 

The impact on my business life was well hidden, but I knew I was not my best self. I was a bit more defensive, I was a little less collaborative and I was easily intimidated by assertive people. I also became more impatient, I was not as good at negotiating and my self-worth was flat and I was easily exploited for my kind nature and my desire to help others.

I was on the verge of giving up dreams and ambitions and I was sad and exhausted - I was definitely on a treadmill that I didn’t know how to slow down or stop. A warning sign for me was waking emotions; I used to always wake with excitement about my day, all through my life, and no matter what happened the day before I would still love the morning.

However, bed became a place that I loved more than I should. So, despite getting up, I would wish I was still in bed. That was not the ‘Penny’ I knew.



On December 1st 2017 I made five decisions that have now made me whole…

  1. I decided to discover what I needed to heal and what changes in myself I had to make.
  2. I decided to learn more about my emotions and how to work with and not against the emotional strengths I had, but ensure they didn’t become ‘overdone’ and misapplied.
  3. I decided to grieve and confront some of the aspects of my past that were affecting my mind and resilience.
  4. I decided to look after my soul and learn some spiritual routines.
  5. I decided to be fitter and learn to love endorphins.

This meant I had to change the way I thought about myself and the way I allowed people to treat me. I had to define what success, happiness and ambition meant to me and understand what values I hold in life and treat them as a priority. I needed to slow down and pace myself to let in a calmer me, and I had to sign up to a gym and force myself to go, until my body became addicted to the endorphin hit it gave me.

It is now one year on from this commitment to myself. I did it. I am more whole now than I have ever been. As Lao Tzu says “to be whole, first you must break” - a wise man speaking wise words, and all I can say to anyone who identifies with anything I have said is: “you can do this, quietly, in your own time, you can make 2019 your year to become whole”. 

You don’t need to break, but you might know there are some cracks and a happier you can emerge - it really is worth it. Wishing you a wonderful 2019.

 

About the author

Penny Power OBE started leading conversations in business wellness in 1998 when she founded the world’s first business online community, Ecademy.

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