Anna Verghese

Self-care. Ask yourself. How much time and energy do you invest in yourself? And how much time and energy do you invest in other people and things? Crunch the numbers. See which comes out higher.

Take me, for example. I’m one of the Co-Founders of We Are Tabono. I run a business as a sole trader and look after a number of clients. I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a daughter in law, a sister in law, a niece and an Auntie. I’m also a friend, a business partner, a consultant and a collaborator. Don’t get me wrong – I am both happy and lucky to be all of these things, and all of these things make me who I am today.

However, once I’ve ‘been’ all of these things, what’s left? What time and resources do I have left to invest in myself?

Why is self-care so important?

The importance of self-care is at the heart of the Tabono programme, and forms the focus of our Wellbeing module. A tree cannot stand tall without its establishing its roots first. In the same way, it’s impossible to build a business without establishing firm foundations, first.

If you can learn to look after yourself as an entrepreneur, then you will be fully equipped with the energy you need to look after your business. If you sleep well, your stress levels will be reduced. Eating healthily will give you energy and keep you going through what is bound to be a busy day running your business. Taking time out will give you the opportunity to reset and re-focus when you need it.

If you don’t, you will eventually burn out in some way, and both you and your business will suffer.

What does that mean in reality?

Saying that we should focus on ourselves and our self-care is one thing, but when you’re juggling so much, it is really hard to fit it in. And even with the best of intentions, it’s so easy to push looking after yourself to the bottom of the pile.

So what do you do about it?

Don’t get me wrong. Prioritising self-care is a struggle. Pretty much every single day, for me. But over the last year or so, I’ve changed my approach. Rather than allowing myself self-care when I have the time – which is rare – I now actively build it into my schedule. I remind myself that I don’t have to do everything myself. Yes, I’m (willingly) here to support people. But I remind myself that people are here to support me, too.

Top Tips for Self-Care

I have certainly learned lessons from prioritising self-care. Here are my three top tips.

  1. Consider an Untouchable Day. I have one of these every month. ‘Business as usual’ is banned, unless there is an emergency, or a meeting that absolutely can’t be moved. Instead, I reflect on what has gone by, and plan for the coming month. I do my bullet journal for the coming month. Sometimes I even allow myself the afternoon off!
  2. Get organised. My bullet journal contains my whole life, ranging from To Do Lists and my diary; to school-related reminders and birthdays. If it’s not in the schedule, it’s not happening, which is why I diarise visits to the gym before the week starts.
  3. Keep the list short. It’s not necessary to try and do everything. The longer the list, the higher the pressure to get it done. Every month I commit to a self-care activity. Sometimes these are really simple, like reading for 30 minutes per day. Other times, they are quantifiable, like a certain number of gym visits per month.

Most importantly though, my self-care objectives are designed to create habits, and this absolutely key. You won’t always achieve your goals every month. Sometimes, life takes over and means that self-care does need to be pushed down the list. But by taking small steps and creating good habits, self-care becomes an established part of your life, not something you have to squeeze in as and when time allows.