Starting the new year with 6 self-care strategies

With the fast-paced world of start-ups where innovation, and cutting-edge strategy dominate the scene, an important factor that easily takes the sideline is self-care.

As founders, we benefit from the flexibility and freedom of choosing our office hours. As good as that sounds, we can all relate to the time when we found ourselves glued to our chairs all night in front of a computer and realised the only thing we ate that day was a bag of chips. Do you know what that scenario lacked?

Yes, you guessed it right – self-care. There are a number of definitions for this, but one that I find easiest to remember is that it is a series of activities that you choose to do to promote better health, wellbeing, decrease stress and improve feelings of happiness and overall mood.

A formal definition by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”. (1)

Facing a new year, it is important to put our health and wellbeing first. The uncertainties of today’s climate make us vulnerable as we face new challenges every day. It is important to be proactive and build a self-care routine that suits us and our lifestyle.

Table of contents

  1. Start the day on a positive note
  2. Take short breaks
  3. Slow down
  4. Rest the eyes
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Declutter

Here are 6 self-care strategies to try

1. Start the day on a positive note

Whether it is a podcast, an affirmation, exercise, or a tune, choose one that feeds your happy mood and sets the positive tone for the day. Starting the day on a high condition our minds to tackle the day with a brighter perspective.

In a published seminal study by Michael F. Scheier and Charles S. Carver in 1985 called “Optimism, Coping and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology, Michael and Charles designed a scale that measured the power of positive thinking. From the study, they have mentioned that “it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.” (2)

2. Take short breaks

A one-to-two-minute break may be enough to recharge and increase productivity. When we allow ourselves to take a pause, we are letting new ideas, inspiration, and abundance in.

A study by Korpela, Kinnunen, Geurts, de Bloom and Sianoja (2016)(3) found that taking lunchtime breaks and detaching from work, increases levels of energy at work and decreases exhaustion. Furthermore, one year later it was found to increase vigor and increase energy levels over time. (4)

3. Slow down

As start-up founders, we are faced with multiple priorities and too many tasks every day. How much we do doesn’t define our business, but rather how mindful we are in the things we choose to do that ultimately defines our success.

It is okay to set our own pace and breathe. Slowing down does not equate to lower productivity. It promotes a sense of calm and mindfulness for better decision making and problem solving.

4. Rest the eyes

In today’s times, technology drives many aspects of business. It is important to give our eyes a rest every now and then. Setting boundaries and limiting screen times is a good start to taking care of our eye health.

Dr Chiara Cirelli, a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, says that “resting your eyes can also serve as a sort of reset for an overactive brain: it increases alertness, improves your mood, and stimulates creativity and mental clarity.” (5)

5. Get enough sleep

Late nights and early mornings may sometimes be a common routine for a start-up founder meeting tight deadlines and maintaining benchmarks. However, lack of sleep hinders the body to fully recharge and accomplish tasks productively.

Sleep is one of the most important ways to practice self-care. “It improves the overall brain health including cognition, concentration, productivity and performance” (6), according to an article on Healthline.com.

Statistics shown on the Sleep Foundation Org website recommends young adults and adults aged 18 to 64 to sleep for 7 – 9 hours. (7)

6. Declutter

Whether it is our wardrobe or workspace, decluttering is a way to minimise the distraction and noise in our environment that promotes clarity and positive mood.

According to a neuroscience research in 2011, using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and other physiological measurements found clearing clutter from the home and work environment resulted in a better ability to focus and process information, as well as increased productivity. (8)

The following suggestions are starting points but ultimately, finding something that sparks your creativity and makes you feel alive can be your self-care activity. It takes consistent action in our day-to-day to see results in the long run. It is important to take small steps and celebrate each day we prioritise our health and wellbeing first.


Article written by Kaye Lirio, founder Oh How Kind


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