By Daphne Grech Cumbo, Up your Level , Wellness Coach

A healthy mind, fuels our self-care action (and inaction), knows how to give care and select what’s good for us at the time. However, more often than we’d like to admit, we self-sabotage our drive and judgement to take the right care of ourselves…

“Put on your own mask first before helping others” 

I always wondered why something so basic had to actually be written on several notices. Isn’t it obvious that without oxygen we won’t survive to be able to be of use to others? Apparently not. 



Ego is the usually the main culprit. We’re tough and we can handle it (the only way we know how)

We don’t need help as we can handle multiple roles such as that of the CEO and the input data clerk (because we can do it better) We’re tough enough to work through all-nighters, starved workdays and even illness (because we never call in sick) and heroism comes before oxygen. 

Within the Vistage community in fact, many Chairs ask their CEO members to kindly “Hang your ego at the door (right by your coat) ” before entering the board session. This brings openness and vulnerability to the table enabling authentic, fruitful discussions that will be of real value to each member. 

Settling into the back burner 

The kids/family come first, my work starts as soon as my eyelids bat open, I’m needed to do this, now, I have to help my colleague with his/her project … 

Do some of these phrases sound familiar? We have a tendency to be long-sighted and think that  shifting our needs aside to accommodate others will actually help us serve them better. 

However, what value can we give when our resources dry up? 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”

Katie Reed, American mental health advocate

You cannot pour from an empty cup, fill it up! 

4 ways to keep a full cup

In a previous blog, Self-care basics we’re not so great at, we discussed ways to include the physical aspects of self-care in our life. In order to get our mind on board with being great at self-care, we can practise these 4 R’s: Reset, Recess, Run & Reach out. 

1. Reset : Mental Pushups

In our “always connected/ always on” lifestyle unplugging ourselves to reset our brain is something we could all do more with… This can be done simply by taking a few moments to remove all distractions, stop, breathe and check in with our present state. Think of each breath as a mental push-up and see how many you can do today ! 

2. Recess : OOO 

Taking actual breaks off work or commitments that consume a chunk of energy is important to refuel our performance. The Out of Office reply might be old school but can actually help us relax and not fret about unanswered emails on the much needed break, particularly if it is taken during a period which is busy and time sensitive. 

3. Run with it: Calendarise 

What gets scheduled gets done! Schedule your self-care practice and stick to it.  Establish what you need to make it happen, who needs to be on board and when you’re going to do it. Calendarise it (you can choose a private setting on a shared calendar) and treat it like a meeting.  

4. Reach out: Ask for help 

Our self-care often gets sidelined because we cannot do it all alone, from babysitting to delegation to getting a coach to keep you on track. Other humans can help us free up our time or clear our mind to look after ourselves. This is one of the hardest actions the average human, leaders no less, fear doing the most. There could be a fear of rejection, of showing vulnerability, of being a burden to others or dealing with trust issues. 

When that happens go back to the “Reset” button and acknowledge your fear, rationalise it and remember how good it felt the last time you really helped someone…

Re-programming our mind

The control centre in our brain is made up of a complex network of neurons which are constantly growing, developing and communicating with each other to enable us to function optimally. The neurons are also able to learn and unlearn. If we feed them the right resources they will enable us to perform new functions such as performing actions we previously feared or did not know how to do. 

Shifting our mindset around prioritising self-care, by educating the “control centre” in our brain, will help us adapt our lifestyle to take the necessary actions to meet our needs and as a result, keep stress at a healthy level. 

If you’re curious of finding alternative ways to reduce stress, contact us to run a private session for your team or join our next masterclass which will focus on transforming stress into performance fuel