We spend an awful lot of attention on our clients, rightfully so.
- We study the trends so we’re ready to introduce them to something new.
- We resource places to take them shopping.
- We write articles for our newsletters to keep them informed and let them know we have them on our mind.
When I’m with a client for five hours straight—in her closet or in the dressing room—I’m a cheerleader, I’m a wardrobe therapist, I’m an educator, and sometimes I’m even a stand up comedian. I do whatever it takes to keep her energy up while we sort through her style, wardrobe and body challenges.
You know how that goes. With that kind of output, if we’re not filling our tanks with whatever replenishes us, we could burn out in a flash.
I was on the edge of burnout
I know about this firsthand. I remember exactly where I was when I realized how perilously close to burnout I was. I had left the neighborhood coffee shop around 7:30 a.m. (my usual routine) after writing my Morning Pages. I was wearing faded jeans and a yellow linen jacket over a white T-shirt. I got into my car and put my hands on the steering wheel. Instead of turning on the engine I sat there and cried my eyes out. It wasn’t a dainty boo-hoo cry; I was sobbing. I roared out loud inside my car, “I need time for me! I want some of my own attention!”
I saw a picture in my head: If I burned out, I’d be helpless when it came to providing for my family. It was my three kids and I. We needed me.
Next, a voice in my head said, “Stop accommodating everyone else’s schedule. You’re a professional woman. You can have professional hours. You don’t have to make it work for everyone else. Make it work for you!”
I had been making appointments for clients as it suited them—from early morning to evening times including weekends. I thought I had to do that to keep my clients happy, but I was making myself unhappy.
That day I made a change
I thought about what I needed to feel chipper each day. I created a saner schedule. To my surprise, everyone made the changes to accommodate MY schedule. I didn’t lose a single client. I gained confidence when booking appointments with new clients. I heard their disappointment that I didn’t work weekends but they’d come back and say, “I could take a personal health day. So Thursday would be fine.”
I can still get too busy and turn into a grumpy cat at night but I do my best to self-correct when I see that pattern rearing its ugly head.
Doing what takes care of me
Now I pay attention to what feeds me so I can be at my best. Here are a few of my essential self-care practices.
- I aim for eight hours of sleep at night. Do I wish I could stay up with Russ (a certified night owl) and watch a favorite TV show together? Yes, but I DVR it instead and watch it with him another day at 7 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
- I still start every morning with my Morning Pages writing. And then I get on the floor and leisurely do my back exercises. It’s good for me to remember I have a body to take care of, not just a mind. I like to end my day that way as well.
- I get out in nature and enjoy walks. That’s probably my favorite time. Do I do it every day? No. But I try to do it several times a week.
- I have definitive weekends. Although I still get requests to work on weekends, I say no. I need time for me and I need time with Russ and time with my family. Right now we’ve been gardening on the weekends and puttering around the house doing some spring-cleaning. When I’m puttering, I’m in my element!
What a difference self-care makes
When Monday shows up, I am so eager to see my clients. I can’t wait!
What do you do to take care of yourself?