Self-Care is a Leadership Skill
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
I remember sharing a cab ride to an event with two retail RD program leaders. During the ride, they were discussing strategies to manage the 500+ emails they get each day. This story reflects the stress that many retail RDs manage in their roles. Random work hours, demands of multiple store categories, support of marketing, communications, and operations and a host of other departments can all contribute to a stressful work life.
How can RDs manage the work pressure and build a successful career at retail? According to health experts and psychologies, self-care is the answer. While self-care is sometimes perceived as a “nice to have,” it actually helps individuals be more effective at performing optimally, especially in high stress situations.
Here are some tips for ensuring you’re taking care of yourself to take care of business:
- Moments vs. Hours. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time to take care of yourself, and in fact, self-care can be more effective when you engage in it often. If you just sat through three hours of meetings, take 10 minutes for a quick outdoor walk. When you arrive at work, spend five minutes meditating in your car each morning. Moments of activities like these will balance the madness that each day may bring.
- Schedule It. “I don’t have enough time” is a common reason people don’t take time to take care of themselves. Whether it’s scheduling a routine physical, taking a creative art class you’ve wanted to take for years, or simply sitting on the porch with a glass of wine, putting it on your calendar increases the likelihood you’ll actually do it.
- Set Boundaries. When you’re constantly running on the hamster wheel, it’s hard to believe that the wheel can keep spinning if you step off it for an hour. To be at your peak over the long haul, you have to sometimes push back on requests and responsibilities and take time for yourself, knowing that the world will still be there when you step back on the wheel.
- Understand Your Real Needs. Sometimes we assume one type of self-care will suffice, when hearts and minds are saying we need something else. Take time in self-reflection to understand what you really need in that moment, day or week.
- Time Out vs. Time Off. While vacations are often viewed as opportunities to get away from work, spend time with family and friends, they can also be stressful – planning, traveling, visiting in-laws, etc. Or your take a week’s vacation for a house project. The point is time off is not always time out, and self-care is about timing out.
Self-care is focused on taking time out to invest in the business of you, which is simply good business.