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Recently I found a business card tucked into my wallet from a woman I met at a networking event a few months ago. She’s making waves in the online business world. On the back of the card I’d written, “mindset self care”.
I threw my mind back to our conversation. She – I’ll call her Deb – and I were agreeing how important it is not to let self-care slip through the cracks when you’re building a business.
I asked Deb how she took care of herself. She employs a business coach and a personal trainer. She’s fastidious about eating well and keeping fit. She alternates Pilates with HIIT. Breakfast is a green smoothie stuffed with super-foods and she eats raw two days a week.
On the surface, she appears super-sorted; a high performer who’s found her stride. But she confessed that she felt often felt stuck and her fuse was growing shorter by the day.
As she talked, I noticed that her attention wasn’t focused on me.
Listening and watching, I could tell pretty quickly that her particular PACES hotspots were Perfectionism and Self Rule – a classic combination among busy entrepreneurs. She had to do it well and she had to do it her way. Failure wasn’t an option.
I complimented her on caring for herself physically, and then asked her: “So what about Mindset? What’s your self-care routine?”
“I haven’t got time for that, especially if I’ve been up during the night with my daughter,” she replied. (All this business success and a toddler too!)
That’s when I scribbled “mindset self-care” on the back of her card, to remind me to write on this topic.
Your mindset is how you approach life. It’s made up of your beliefs + your attitude. What’s going on in your head matters because your stories and your habits create your reality. Having a mindset self care routine is as important as looking after yourself physically.
There are many ways to take care of your mindset and it needn’t take up a huge chunk of time. These 8 activities are a good place to start. Try to introduce at least two of them into your daily routine:
1. Cultivate self-awareness – practise tuning in to what’s going on in your mind, especially when you feel emotionally off-balance or you’re facing a task or situation that challenges you. Notice what stories you’re holding onto about yourself and your abilities, other people, or the task or situation in front of you.
When you tune in and become conscious of your thoughts, you switch them from automatic to manual. This gives you back control because you now have a choice – whether to continue reacting to a story that might not be helpful, or to deliberately swap it for a belief that is more constructive. What could you think instead that might deliver a better outcome?
2. Accept the world and yourself – accepting an awkward situation doesn’t mean you approve of it. It simply means you’re not wasting time and energy thinking, “I wish this hadn’t happened”. When you stop fighting the reality of a problem, you free yourself up to concentrate on working out the best way to resolve it.
In the same way, accepting yourself doesn’t mean condoning your flaws and unhelpful habits. It means you acknowledge the facts of where you currently are, without judgement, and you’re able to view yourself, and the situation you’re in, realistically and with compassion. That makes it easier to decide where you want to be and put together an action plan to help you get there.
3. Pay attention – that’s what mindfulness really comes down to. We exist in a tiny sliver of “now” that moves along our timeline. We spend our whole lives in that sliver, but how much attention do we pay to what’s going on in the moment? So often our minds are elsewhere – mulling over the past or churning over a future that hasn’t happened yet. NOW is all we have with any degree of certainty. Decide today that you’re going to pay attention to this moment you’re inhabiting and give it your full attention. You don’t have to judge it. You just have to live in it, fully aware and present.
4. Carve out time for yourself to be creative – whether art and design is your thing, or music, or sewing, or doing jigsaws, or turning a room or garden into a beautiful place, giving your conscious mind a rest and allowing your unconscious to play is brilliant self care. This isn’t a luxury or an indulgence. Your creativity is part of you and exercising that part of you can recharge your batteries, strengthen your sense of self and make a good dent in your yearning for something ‘more’.
5. Give yourself permission to let go – in both senses. Let go by saying “No” no more often to people, situations and events that don’t serve your mission to be happy and healthy. And let go by saying “Yes” more often to people, situations and events that are about joy and self care.
6. Make time to meditate – there are so many proven benefits to meditating regularly. It improves your health and sense of wellbeing. It helps your brain to function better. It has a positive impact on everything from sleep to work to relationships. There are plenty of ways to meditate and the simplest is to focus on your breathing and deliberately acknowledge and let go or any thoughts that appear. Of concentrate on a phrase or mantra that has meaning for you.
7. Book sacred “me-time” in your diary – if you have a partner, agree that you can each have time every week or month that is yours to do with as you choose. Take a class, go for a walk. Have a spa day. Go to a library and read. Whatever you choose to do, do it without guilt. This is a gift to yourself.
It takes time and practice but you’ll soon start to see the benefits. My meditation method of choice is self-hypnosis. I highly recommend it – get in touch with me if you’d like to learn how.
8. Practise active gratitude – it takes just 5 minutes a day to reflect on what you appreciate about your life but it’s a life-enhancing habit. Take a look at this post and then treat yourself to a beautiful journal and make a daily habit of appreciation. I got my beautiful orange leather-bound journal for a song in TK Maxx – and yes, that did get a gratitude mention on my first page.
Thanks for the prompt, Deb. Your mindset deserves as much self care and attention as any other aspect of you – in fact it deserves MORE because how you think creates your reality.
If you feel stuck and you want to change the way you’re experiencing life, by far the most effective way to do that and come unstuck (in a good way!) is by changing the stories you’re telling yourself. That is absolutely the best self care you could give yourself.
If, like Deb, you know you’re capable of more and you’d like to start exploring your own mindset self care, get in touch. I’d love to help you tap into your promise.