Let's face it: With the combination of work stress and overloaded schedules added to the woes of living through a pandemic, and it's safe to say we could all use some self-care right now.
But we're not talking about scented candles and bubble baths. We're talking about tried-and-true strategies that will help you move past the stress and feel ownership in any situation.
TMRW asked seven successful women for their tips when it comes to common situations — like burnout, imposter syndrome and exhaustion. Below, check out their best tips and try them for yourself.
1. Recover from burnout
Overworked? Exhausted? Not feeling purpose for the work you’re doing? Burnout is real, and it affects many people. Emilie Aries, leadership coach and author of "Bossed Up: A Grown Woman's Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together," says her first step to recovering from burnout is figuring out the cause so she can fix it.
“Once I’ve identified the root, it’s time to assert the boundaries I need to remove the burnout triggers from my life,” she told TMRW. “Sometimes this means renegotiating expectations that I have for myself or expectations that others have for me. This requires boldly acknowledging my limits and unapologetically saying ‘no’ to myself and others.”
Then it’s time for some rest and renewal. “Oftentimes we're sold this idea that rest must look a certain type of way: cucumber slices on our eyes, laying down by the pool or getting a mani-pedi,” she said. And while these activities can help, she said she’s found that to recover more fully from stress, active forms of rest are better. “For example, I've spent the last few years learning to play the drums — a truly challenging undertaking, but one that lights up my brain in a new and different way. Some of my favorite active forms of renewal include hiking, biking, singing, playing music, yoga, reading and trying out new restaurants with a good friend.”
2. Battle imposter syndrome
Feeling self-doubt or that you’re not good enough is normal. In fact, a systematic review of 62 studies published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in December 2019 suggested that up to 82% of people may experience impostor-type feelings — even for New York Times bestselling authors, like Tia Williams, whose new book “Seven Days in June” was chosen as Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick for June.
“Imposter syndrome is so insidious,” Williams said. “I just try to remember that there’s someone out there with half of my experience and talent, churning out novels and getting them sold — because they have confidence.”
And confidence really is key for not feeling like an imposter — no matter what you’re doing. When Williams writes, she tells herself that the characters and story are safe in her hands. “It gets me in front of the laptop every time.”
3. Feel joy during hard times
Sometimes life just doesn’t go as planned and throws us some curveballs (see: all of 2020). Travel photographer and filmmaker Amy Seder felt this hard when the pandemic not only caused her to cancel her wedding but also to shut down her business almost completely for a whole year.
“The past year has been a tough one for me,” she admitted. But she still found a few ways to find joy. “I've leaned into trying new hobbies,” she said. “I bought a ukulele, started propagating plants and learned how to make my own gold jewelry,” she said. Seder also gave herself a new sense of purpose by launching a Photoshop intensive online course. “It provided me with a deep joy and sense of accomplishment during such a personally dark and difficult time.”
And she found one other thing to bring a smile to her face: her neighbor's dog Lexi. “I completely fell in love with him, and he definitely had the best year of his life — double the walks, double the play time, double the treats and double the belly rubs. After the first project that took me away from home for a few days after months of this, when we arrived home, Lexi bounded up the stairs into my arms as soon as he saw me. It may have been one of the happiest, purest moments of my life.”
4. Find energy on sluggish days
You know those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed or do anything? Everyone has them — even professional athletes, like rock climber Sierra Blair-Coyle.
“I have learned that the hardest part of getting energy or motivation is simply getting started,” she said. “I like to give myself a small goal to reach.” For her, that could mean getting through a climbing warm-up, making a healthy breakfast or doing a small chore like taking out the trash.
“I am a big believer in ‘look good, feel good,’" she added. “Taking a shower and making myself ready for the day or my next activity always gives me an energy boost.”
5. Feel confident before a big moment
Got a big job interview, presentation or just need a boost of confidence? Creator and entrepreneur Nabela Noor says her trick is to talk to herself like she would to a best friend.
Noor said she did this exact thing when she pitched her new children’s book, “Beautifully Me.”
“I remember when I first pitched the book, before walking into the meeting I gave myself a pep talk,” she said. “I affirmed myself the way I would affirm and uplift my best friend before their big day because the truth is, most of us are kinder to our loved ones than we are to ourselves. So I try to extend the same grace, kindness and support to myself as I would someone I love."
And the trick must have worked — Noor sold the book, and it will be out Sept. 14.
6. Regain focus
If you’ve got a lot on your plate, things can feel overwhelming. But Gaynete Jones, who juggles a lot of different titles — like being a business consultant, podcaster, author and founder of femcare brand Best, Periodt — has found a formula to help her. She calls it TBD.
The T is for Timing. “I know my time of peak performance, which for me is super early in the morning. I tackle any big tasks at this time because then as my energy and cognitive ability start to nosedive later in the day, I’ve accomplished a lot that I wanted to do already at a high level.”
Next is B for Batch. “Whether it’s content, emails or even preparing meals, it makes life easier when I can batch produce, dedicating an hour or two to a specific task at hand and dust off all similar tasks at one time, as opposed to doing things piecemeal,” she explained.
And finally, it’s D for Delegate. “I used to think that in order to do something well, I needed to do it all by myself,” she said. “I’ve since learned that delegating to people who are experts at what they do is the best thing you can do for the health of your business and your sanity.”
When you’ve been going and going, you might lose energy and need to find a way to recharge — just like you do for your phone or laptop. Fitness trainer and lifestyle influencer Ashley Joi says her body will tell her when she needs a recharge.
“If it's difficult for me to wake up to my normal alarm or I feel too tired to take my dog for a walk (I know I need a break)," she said. "One of the big indicators is if I start feeling hesitant about going out and doing things that I normally love to do — like workout.”
To recharge, she picks activities that don’t require much energy, like listening to a sermon in church or waves at the ocean.
She also consciously disconnects from digital media. “I put my phone in another room, take off my Apple watch, turn off my computer and just get away from technology for a while.”