Leaders: Here’s How to Make Self-Care a Priority

May 26, 2020

In tech, there’s often no one way to solve a problem.

Self-care is similar in that it can take many forms. And just like company culture or management best practices, prioritizing mental health starts at the top. 

The following three Chicago executives share how they structure their days to incorporate physical activity, journaling and family time into their routines. Their methods include viewing those activities as commitments worth honoring and relying on outside support to stay accountable. 

While those practices are generally effective, self-care can also come down to a simple mindset shift. 

For example, Centro’s Christine Kim thinks of her daily morning walk in quarantine as her work “commute.” Pretending she’s on her way into the office grounds her for the day ahead once she returns to her desk.

Centro
Centro
Christine Kim
Director of Client Learning

Kim thinks of self-care the same way she thinks of doctor appointments or networking events: necessary. The director of client learning at the adtech company is also a co-founder of one of Centro’s community groups where employees discuss mental health and self-care. 

 

What does self-care look like for you? 

Self-care is much more than bubble baths or face masks. It’s an intentional and meaningful time I set aside for myself. I typically journal, have coffee, meditate and go for a walk every morning. Whether I am traveling for work, relaxing on the weekend or working from home, this ritual stays the same. 

When I am working from home, I think of my walk as my “commute time” and pretend I am walking into the office when I come to sit at my desk. This keeps me grounded.

 

How do you ensure you’re making time for self-care throughout the week?

Any time I need with myself is like a meeting, a doctor’s appointment or dinner with a friend. Just like I wouldn’t back out on a commitment I made to others, I don’t back out on commitments to myself. This means I will schedule a walk into my day as I would coffee with a friend. 

I don’t back out on commitments to myself.’’ 

What’s the most important piece of advice you have for leaders who are feeling burnt out or struggling to make self-care a priority?

Set the example and take the time to take care of yourself. By showing that you are making your mental health and self-care a priority, you are allowing your team to do the same. When you are taking the time you need to better the relationship you have with yourself, the more you can powerfully impact the relationships you have with your team and others.

 

Alfonso Hooker 
Senior Director of IT Security

Rally Health’s Alfonso Hooker tries to read before bed and practice mindfulness daily. The senior director of IT security says he uses the healthtech company’s consumer app to keep healthy habits and hold himself accountable. 

 

What does self-care look like for you? 

Self-care for me is having a routine that I can count on. Specifically, I am at my best when I can exercise at least once a day for an hour. I also enjoy martial arts and spending time volunteering on the weekends. These activities feed my mood and ability to deal with the daily stress life brings.

Self-care for me is having a routine that I can count on.’’  

How do you ensure you’re making time for self-care throughout the week? 

I put it on my schedule and leverage the Rally App to track my progress. Specifically, I track my bedtime, when I turn off screens, how mindfully I eat and when I exercise. This practice keeps me grounded and balanced.

 

What’s the most important piece of advice you have for leaders who are feeling burnt out or struggling to make self-care a priority? 

If you are in a leadership position and you are struggling to prioritize self-care, I would recommend delegating responsibilities and blocking time off on your calendar to prioritize exercise and wellness. 

 

Ujjwal Gupta
COO and Co-Founder

BenchPrep COO and Co-Founder Ujjwal Gupta has relied on frequent and open communication to get him through the pandemic. He recommends other leaders find a therapist, life coach or alternative outside support system to talk through personal and professional hurdles as they arise.

 

What does self-care look like for you? 

Outside of the regular best practices like sleeping an appropriate number of hours, eating healthfully and staying active as much as possible, maintaining a regular schedule has been helpful for me. The single best thing I’ve done though is find someone to speak with about everything that is going on. In my case, this is a life coach. I’m also trying to remove myself from the abundance of negativity out there and stay true to my core value of optimism that we will all come out of this stronger.

 

How do you ensure you’​​​​​​​re making time for self-care throughout the week?

Quite simply, I’ve been making sure self-care is a top priority and blocking time off on my calendar for it. Assuming this new normal continues on for a longer period of time, letting others know that you are blocking certain times of day for self-care is important. Recommend your teams do the same. At BenchPrep, we’ve integrated a regularly scheduled meditation session for all employees to help them make self-care a priority.

The single best thing I’ve done is find someone to speak with about everything that is going on.’’  

What’s the most important piece of advice you have for leaders who are feeling burnt out or struggling to make self-care a priority?

Find a life coach, a therapist or someone else you trust to speak openly with. Maintaining mental health is absolutely a must during this time for yourself and to set the tone for your organization. If you have a significant other, talk to them about your struggles, listen to their struggles and figure out solutions together. 

 

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