why is self-care important for business owners
Nicole Iacovoni

Nicole Iacovoni

Nicole Iacovoni is a financial therapist, licensed psychotherapist, and writer for women entrepreneurs who are tired of struggling financially and feel overwhelmed by the emotional up’s and down’s of growing a business.

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Everyone knows that self-care is good for you, but what no one talks about is how self-care is also good for your business. That was a conversation I was recently part of.

The Plutus Foundation asked me to be an expert speaker on the topic of mental wellness for entrepreneurs during this year’s Plutus Impact Summit. I was honored to be on a panel with two other self-care gurus for this incredible virtual event.

The topic is one that’s near and dear to my heart.

After all, I own and operate two businesses, have 20 years of experience working in mental health, and struggle with depression, anxiety, and workaholism myself…

…as does 80% of the U.S. population.

We need to talk about what entrepreneurs can do to prevent losing their damn minds while building and growing a business…because that sh*t ain’t easy.

So, I’m going to share my thoughts from that conversation with you now, Q&A style.

Q: Why do we have such a hard time taking a break for self-care as business owners and creators?

A: Entrepreneurs share some common personality traits. We’re highly passionate (and often multi-passionate), ambitious, driven, and motivated to accomplish, produce, lead, and succeed.

Business owners want to do meaningful work and make an impact. All of these goals lead to working at a FAST PACE and directing our energy OUTWARD. It’s all about DOING.

Self-care is the exact opposite of this, which makes it feel counterintuitive and in conflict with our goals. Self-care is about SLOWING DOWN and directing our energy INWARD so we can become more attuned with ourselves. It’s all about BEING.

When business owners slow down to care for themselves, we feel like we’re being lazy and neglecting their responsibilities. We worry about missing out on opportunities or wasting time.

That’s what makes it so difficult, but taking time for self-care keeps us sharp, innovative, and connected with our audience.

Q: Self-Care is a buzz word that’s often misunderstood. How do you define self-care?

A: Self-care is any activity or practice that supports and nurtures your well-being. Self-care looks different for each person, and it’s a bit of a process discovering what practices and routines work for you.

There are six different facets to life that need tending to in order to maintain overall well-being. Imagine that your life is a pie and you have a slice for each facet of well-being:

  1. Emotional
  2. Physical
  3. Relational
  4. Intellectual
  5. Financial
  6. Spiritual

 

The goal is to tend to each slice of well-being DAILY. Even though you’re caring for six areas of your life, this doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Here’s an example of what I do to tend to each slice of life and how much time I spend in a day doing it:

Emotional – 15 minutes of journaling about my thoughts and feelings

Physical – 30-minute walk with my dog or yoga

Relational – 60 minutes connecting with my family over dinner

Intellectual – 15 minutes of Spanish practice and 30 minutes of reading

Financial – 60-minute money date
Spiritual- 15 minutes of meditating/gratitude practice

Total time spent daily = 3 hours 45 minutes
(That still gives me about 11 hours to work…but I don’t work that much.)

Q: Why is it important to take time for self-care?

A: I didn’t really realize the importance of self-care until last year when my mom died suddenly. That experience made me far more aware of my own mortality and how short life really is.

The average lifespan for Americans is 79 years old. That’s 28,835 days of life.

I turn 40 this year, which means that I have about 14,418 days left to live. I keep that number on a Post-It note at my desk and update it every week. It serves as a great motivator to live intentionally and spend my time doing what I love.

When we number the days of our life and recognize how fast those days go by, we can see just how important it is to live each day to the fullest and enjoy our time on Earth as much as we possibly can while we’re here.

Self-care is what allows us to truly experience life. It is the practice of making time for the things most important to us.

It also helps us gain self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which is knowing what we’re thinking, feeling, believing, and doing at any given moment. This awareness reveals what is and isn’t working in our lives and our businesses.

Self-care provides clarity and direction about what we need, what our businesses need, what our community needs, and what to do next.

Without self-care, our mental and physical health will go to hell. Our relationships will suffer. Our minds will turn to mush and our finances will tank. We’ll feel disconnected from ourselves, a higher power, and other people.

Self-care is like the glue that holds the pieces of our lives together, making us strong, healthy, and resilient.

Q: What is quality self-care?

A: When we hear the word “self-care”, most of us think of bubble baths, massages, and pedicures. Those things are all fine and good, but I call those “surface level forms of self-care”.

Quality self-care is usually free in terms of dollars, paid for in time, and is based on your top values and priorities.

In order to determine what quality self-care looks like for you, you have to first know what your top five values in life are.

Mine are FREEDOM, HEALTH, CREATIVITY, GROWTH, and FAMILY. As such, I use my self-care time doing things that align with these values.

While I enjoy bubble baths, I get more value from spending my time doing yoga instead, because it supports my values of health, creativity, and growth all at the same time.

Quality self-care fills up your cup and recharges your batteries, which is incredibly important for business owners. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you aren’t making time for self-care, you’re going to burn yourself out, and you won’t have anything to give to your clients, your team, or your community.

Q: What are some tips for creating a schedule that includes self-care?

A: Schedule it! Block time off on your calendar. Treat self-care time like it’s a lunch date with Oprah and don’t bail on yourself.

Another tip is to make a list of your DAILY NON-NEGOTIABLES- the handful of things you will absolutely do for yourself each day without exception. Again, these non-negotiables should align with your values.

For instance, starting my morning in silence with a hot cup of coffee and journaling is non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter what day it is, where I am, or what’s going on in my life. I begin my day with that form of self-care every day.

Q: What are your favorite self-care routines?

A: I’ve shared a few of them already. Other favorites include being outside in nature and really tapping into my senses by paying attention to what I’m seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. This practice is a form of mindfulness that I absolutely love. It quiets my mind enough to really connect with my true self.

I also enjoy meditating daily. I use a free app called Insight Timer. It has awesome guided meditations, music, and educational talks.

Traveling, exploring, and playing with my family are part of my self-care routine as well. I take a week-long vacation at the end of every quarter during the year. Those four weeks a year gives me a break from my business, which really gets my creativity flowing.

My all-time favorite self-care practice though is laying in a hammock reading books on personal growth, finance, spirituality, and business. I could do that all day, every day, and be a very happy girl!

Thank you for taking the time to be part of this vital conversation. Self-care matters and I hope that this post inspires you to make more time for tending to each facet of well-being.

If you got at least one benefit or new idea from reading this post, please like and share it.

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