With great roles come greater responsibilities - a simple yet profound truth that echoes through the corridors of leadership. In the whirlwind of responsibilities, it's all too easy for leaders to neglect their own well-being. Caught up in the demands of the day-to-day, self-care often takes a backseat, leaving leaders vulnerable to burnout and exhaustion.
Recognising this critical need for balance, we at People Matters embarked on a journey to uncover the essential dos and don'ts when leaders find themselves not feeling well. By tapping into the wisdom of experts, we aim to shed light on the strategies and pitfalls that can make all the difference in maintaining leadership wellness.
Join us as we delve into this vital exploration, navigating the complexities of leadership while prioritising self-care for a healthier, more sustainable future.
Diet and Nutrition: How to make it a priority
From practical tips for meal planning and mindful eating to the importance of seeking support and fostering balance, Dr Preeti Nagar, Dietician at Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Noida International University, shares some practical tips:
Always have wholesome snacks close at hand, such as fruits, nuts, seeds, and yoghurt. These deliver vital nutrients and long-lasting energy without the sudden spike in blood sugar that comes with processed munchies. Snacking sensibly promotes focus and keeps one from overindulging during meals.
Hydration is Key
Maintaining adequate hydration is essential for both general health and cognitive performance. It is recommended that busy leaders try to get at least 8 glasses of water every day. Reusable water bottles can act as a continual reminder to stay hydrated.
Arrange your meals
Organising your meals for the next week on the weekend might help you save time and feel less stressed. By planning your meals, you can make sure you have everything you need for a well-balanced diet that is high in whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Make an effort to take the time to eat mindfully even with a hectic schedule. This entails eating in silence, giving food enough chewing time, and savouring the flavours. Eating mindfully facilitates digestion and helps limit overindulgence.
Your body needs a healthy ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to support your high levels of activity. This is a customised meal plan based on your dietary requirements and schedule:
- Breakfast (8–9 AM): Whole-grain toast with a vegetarian omelette that includes spinach, tomatoes, and onions.
- A bowl of muesli garnished with a handful of nuts for extra protein and fresh fruit slices, such as bananas or apples.
- Lunch (1-2 PM): - Quinoa salad topped with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers; or grilled chicken or fish.
- A vegetarian option would be a mixed vegetable stir-fry on the side and chickpea curry served over brown rice or whole wheat roti.
- Dinner: To help with digestion, I would advise having it at least two to three hours before going to bed, as you haven't mentioned when it should be. Dinner options might be:
- A mixed veggie lentil soup or dal, served with multigrain rotis or brown rice. An alternate would be a stir-fry of tofu or paneer with an abundance of vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy and zucchini.
“If there is a significant interval between meals, don't forget to have snacks. A fruit smoothie, a handful of nuts, or some yogurt could be snacks,” suggested Dr Preeti Nagar.
You can also read:
- Fit & Fab Friday: Leaders, elevate your heart health with these 5 chair yoga
- A comprehensive guide to measuring the impact of employee well-being programs
- Top workplace wellness trends to watch for in 2024
In Sickness and Health: Dos and Don'ts
While adopting healthy food habits is undoubtedly crucial, there are numerous other dos and don'ts that can significantly impact our overall wellness. In this exploration, we go beyond dietary considerations to uncover a comprehensive array of strategies for combating stress, managing anxiety, and staying on top of our well-being. From practical tips for enhancing resilience to mindful practices for fostering inner peace, join us as we delve into the holistic approach to living a life that is both easy and healthy.
Leaders should assign tasks to capable team members when they are not feeling well. This prevents burnout and ensures that the group can continue to function properly. “Identify key tasks that can be delegated and communicate expectations to team members. Trust in your team creates shared responsibility and ownership,” highlighted Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder-Food Darzee.
Stress management techniques
In order to refrain from feeling burnout, “learn simple stress management techniques such as taking breaks at regular intervals, deep breathing exercises and practicing meditation,” suggested Dr Mukesh Batra, Padmashree Recipient, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Batra’s Healthcare.
Maintain a sleep schedule
It is important to maintain a sleep schedule. 7-8 hours of sleep is a must to maintain productivity, start afresh, stay focussed and boost energy levels.
Open communication is key. Leaders must clearly articulate their positions with their team and senior management. This helps to meet expectations and provide support where needed. “Schedule a brief group meeting or send a clear email explaining your situation. Encourage open communication and let your team know how they can help or adjust expectations as you recover,” Dr Siddhant Bhargava told People Matters.
Passionate about hobbies One must maintain a balance between work and personal life. “Whether it's collecting stamps, swimming, dancing, traveling, photography, writing, trekking, listening to music, or any activity that provides individuals with a meaningful reason to continue, these pursuits add an extra layer of joy to their daily lives,” said Dr Mukesh Batra.
Leaders often have complicated strategies. An essential practice especially during illness is to establish clear boundaries. This includes saying ‘no’ to other promises or requests that can increase stress. “Prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance. Politely turn down unnecessary meetings or activities that can wait. Take this time to focus on what matters professionally and personally,” suggested the Co-Founder-Food Darzee.
Sometimes feeling uncomfortable can lead to isolation. Leaders must avoid isolating themselves from their teams and support networks. “Keep open communication with your team. Even if you need some alone time, make sure your team knows how to reach out to you and that you are still committed to your progress,” suggested Dr Siddhant Bhargava.
Counter negative thoughts by steering clear of self-criticism; redirect your focus towards constructive solutions instead of dwelling on problems.
Neglect your mental health
Taking a break and immersing oneself in a hobby, especially when feeling overwhelmed with work, can indeed work wonders. “Efficiently and intelligently managing work is crucial. Developing schedules, using calendars, and prioritising tasks based on importance are effective strategies for handling daily responsibilities, ultimately preventing stress,” emphasised Padmashree Recipient, Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Batra’s Healthcare.
Ignore stress signals
Physical and psychological signs of stress should not be ignored. Leaders need to be aware of their stress levels and be proactive. “Check your stress levels regularly and take preventive measures. This could be a short break, mental exercises, or seeking help from a counsellor or mentor,” advised Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder-Food Darzee.
Introducing Fit & Fab Friday – a segment for leaders, featuring expert tips on wellbeing, lifestyle, professional etiquette, and much more. Tune in every Friday for insights that elevate your leadership persona. Feel free to share your feedback or requests at email@example.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.