Hi, Eleonora here! Are you taking care of yourself while running your business (and your very busy life)?

I am quite sure you heard about this “self-care” thing already. Everybody seems to talk about it. I believe is a very important concept, but being the questioner I am and usually resistant to anyone telling we what I am supposed to do, I couldn’t help but asking myself: What is all the fuss? Why should I practice self-care, when I am so busy chasing my dreams, and what does it actually mean?

A lot of terms risk sounding empty and meaningless if we hear them too much in so many different contests. To be meaningful and useful, they need to be made very specific and clear again.

What does it mean to practice self-care, and why are we talking about it now?

I realized the extent of my problem with self-care some years ago, when my therapist asked me “What do you do to relax?”… And I stood there in silence for a few minutes trying to come up with something. I could not ever say “I sleep” because I have a long story of issues with sleep, too.

It felt a lot like an adorable moment I remember from the 2001 movie “Kissing Jessica Stein”: During a date, Helen asks Jessica, a neurotic New York journalist, a fundamental question:

Helen: Some people smoke pot, some people bungee jump, some people chant. What do you do to be happy?

Jessica: Nothing. I’m not.

(Go watch the movie, it is very nice!)

My therapist’s question forced me to think hard about what I was really doing to make sure I kept balance in my life.

And in these days, with the Kickstarter campaign and one million other exciting things going on at the same moment, the question keeps going back and forth in our mind. Both Lana and I are very conscious of the emotional strain that the Kickstarter campaign is putting on both of us, the enormous amount of time we need to spend in creating a new business, and the work that still needs to be done. It is all awesome, but also potentially nerve-breaking.

To me, this is also a personal challenge: Can I keep my mental and physical balance, avoid devastating mood swings, nurture my energy, all while doing the work I need to do? Can this be the first time I don’t end completely depleted and on the verge of a psychotic break, after spending myself completely on a project?

In supporting my goals of well-being, I need to put self-care first. Being a list-making-maniac, I made a list of my priorities. Very specific priorities, because to me, just saying things like “sleep more” or “eat healthy” make no sense.

I’ll give you a glimpse in Eleonora’s way of thinking: “Red wine is healthy! Salami is protein, right? I can definitely survive with 4 hours of sleep. I will exercise from January 2019”. Sounds familiar? Tell me I am not alone.

So, here is my list of 10 self-care priorities:

  1. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep. I mean, real sleep, like 8 hours of sleep every night. That brings us to…
  2. Stop working after 19.00. My computer transforms into a powerful multi-dimensional portal that will suck me in for at least 5 hours if I come too close to it after 19.00. And then I won’t be able to sleep for hours. And this connects again to…
  3. Don’t engage in work-related activities after dinner. This is hard. I love my job. But if I keep doing work-related stuff, I won’t be able to shut down my mind enough to fall asleep. This also means no books that can trigger ideas. It is very important to keep the idea-generation process very calm at night! Ideas can get crazy and they demand immediate attention, that brings again to… Not enough sleep.
  4. Eat healthy. This really needs to be in the list. When I am very busy, I tend to forget to eat, until I get junk-food cravings and I eat the first thing I find in the fridge. I am just very lucky my husband loves to cook! Also…
  5. Drink tons of water. This always came easy to me, because I drink liters of water everyday. But if I forget my bottle and I get focused in what I am creating, I forget the simple act of drinking too. And I can feel how my body suffers for it.
  6. Move my body. In my case, it is swimming. I also like running. And I am not really doing any of that now, because I think I’d better use the time to work. But when I run or swim, I feel better, work faster and have better ideas. Win-win.
  7. Have good conversations. This is easy. I have Lana as my business partner, so very good conversations are happening daily. I also love talking with my husband, with my friends and with all the interesting people we meet daily.
  8. But not too many. I love interacting with people, and it inspires me and gives me a lot of energy. But too many social interactions packed together are very demanding for me. And then I need…
  9. Spend time alone. With a busy schedule at work, and a family with two small kids at home, silence and time alone seem like a distant memory. Making space to be alone in silence is key to my long-term well-being and a struggle to achieve it.
  10. Spend time with my family. My husband is my biggest supporter and my kids are my constant source of inspiration and wonder (and my daughter with her leopard coat, glittery shoes and dresses over tutu skirts is my true icon of style). When I am too focused on my work – even if I love that – and I slowly retire in my bubble (or my attic) to get stuff done, I start missing the support, love they give me. Spending the evening or a weekend with them recharges me more than anything else.

 

And those are my brilliant tips for self-care, that I obviously don’t practice as well as I should, but that I try to keep in mind every day.

If we want to do our best work and bring it out in the world, self-care is an absolute necessity to give us the energy to do that. And if you need help in planning and prioritizing to make space for developing your ideas, check out The 90 Day Action Planner: It is the best tool out there to make sure you reach your goals and have time to do everything you love.


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Written by Eleonora Spagnuolo