By Dr. Cindy Tsai, MD, physician, founder and CEO and chief wellness officer of Yes & More and member of NAWBO San Diego
As a high-performing leader and entrepreneur, it’s easy to focus on the business and team, but often harder to focus on yourself. With all the responsibilities and demands on your plate, self-care often takes a backseat. However, prioritizing your well-being is crucial to your success and overall happiness.
As a double board-certified physician and chief wellness officer, I emphasize the importance of self-care to my patients and clients. Just like a car needs fuel to function, your body requires proper care to thrive. When you take care of yourself first, you will feel better and be more equipped to handle the challenges that come your way.
Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself with indulgent treats or luxurious getaways. It’s about finding simple ways to nourish your mind, body and spirit throughout your busy day. Take a moment of rest when you feel overwhelmed and let your body restore itself from the stress and anxiety of the day.
As I shared in my TEDx talk, the body has its own intelligence and it talks to us—we need to listen to these messages. This means that when you feel something in your body, whether it be fatigue, aches or pains, it’s your body’s way of telling you that something needs attention!
Instead of drinking a third cup of coffee to stay alert or pushing through the pain, what if you took a moment and put your hand on your chest to ask yourself, “What does my body need?” Pause and listen to what comes up and experiment to see what feels most energizing to you.
Here are some tips on ways to thrive and integrate self-care to stay healthy and well!
1) Keep it simple.
Small things lead to big changes. Don’t dismiss or underestimate simple practices such as:
- Staying hydrated (e.g. always keep a glass of water close by)
- Taking a quick 5- to 10-minute walk outside (get some sunshine and your daily dose of vitamin D)
- Doing a quick stretch in-between meetings (movement and mobility are critical for longevity)
- Expressing gratitude (e.g. appreciate three things that made your life easier today)
- Pausing for a mindful breath to be present (e.g. take a “cleansing breath”—inhale through nose and fully expand your chest, exhale through open mouth with audible sigh and release)
2) Give yourself permission.
It’s time to take care of yourself. It’s possible to do this without disrupting your schedule and life. It’s not all-or-nothing. Consider this as an experiment and give yourself permission to explore what feels good to you.
- Are there activities or hobbies you’ve always wanted to try?
- Is there something you want to do more of?
- How can you make it fun and energizing?
Note that certain practices may no longer feel aligned in this season of life and that’s completely fine, allow yourself the flexibility to choose.
There is no one “right” way or “perfect” way, there is only YOUR way.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but why do certain chores or tasks always get done (especially when it’s related to your clients or kids?!)?
It’s because we see it as a priority.
For far too long, women have been seen and expected to serve in a “supporting” role and can feel a sense of obligation to take care of everything and everyone else.
While it’s rewarding to help others, over-giving often comes at a huge cost, including exhaustion, resentment and burnout.
To change and avoid this, I encourage you to start seeing yourself as a top priority as well. Prioritizing yourself is not selfish, but necessary. Why shouldn’t you be a top priority?! You’ve worked far too hard not to be!
Seek support from coaches, mentors, communities and friends. You don’t have to go through this journey alone!
Remember that self-care looks different for everyone and this is a beautiful process for you to learn more about yourself.
Find “micro-habits” or small actions you can integrate into your daily routine to build momentum and recharge. Every little bit counts, and you don’t have to wait until you’re completely depleted to start this process.
As a successful and accomplished woman business owner, don’t underestimate the power of self-care. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to lead, model and inspire others to do the same.
You deserve to thrive and be well!
About the Author…
Dr. Cindy Tsai, MD is an award-winning board-certified physician, TEDx speaker, bestselling author and chief wellness officer. As founder of Yes & More, a personal growth and wellness company, she empowers leaders and organizations to say YES to themselves and more through comprehensive mind-body-spirit wellness programs. Her training at Ivy League institutions and clinical experiences as both Internal and Integrative Medicine physician highlighted the impact of chronic stress and fueled her mission to do more than prescribe medications as a band-aid. Her passions lie in preventative health and holistic well-being with a vision to foster a healthier and happier world.