Guest Post by Elisabetta is the Founder of the Global Dream Collective
This time last year I hadn’t quite learned the importance of self-care yet. I was in the middle of fundraising thousands of dollars to help one small, rural village in East Africa that was experiencing a hunger crisis.
This village was where I lived and worked for three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, and where I now run my girls empowerment non-profit, Kurandza.
I was putting all my time, energy, and resources into helping this village. I thought that as an American with access to resources and influence, I needed to do my part to help, and that it was OK if it came at the expense of my personal well-being.
I mean, these people were eating one meal a day. I think I could skip my yoga class, dinner with friends, and hikes in nature to put 100% of my time into raising money to help this village, right?
BUT I WAS WRONG.
Neglecting myself just created more overwhelm, anxiety, and confusion.
If I couldn’t take care of myself, how was I supposed to help others and make an impact in the world?
Only until after I returned to the US after spending a month in this small village in Mozambique, distributing food aid and leading nutrition and HIV prevention trainings, did I realize that I was completely burned out and experiencing compassion fatigue.
I realized that I needed to take a break and give myself some time and space to recuperate and get back to the important work I was meant to do.
I started up my yoga practice again, scheduled some spa dates, and spent more time traveling and reconnecting with friends. This time gave me the clarity I needed to realize that Kurandza’s model needed to change in order to make an even bigger impact in the world. It also gave me the clarity and vision to create my new project, the Global Dream Collective, a resource and community of global change-making women.
If I hadn’t taken the time to slow down and take care of myself, I would have never been able to create the impact that I’m now making in the world.
Now that I realize the importance of self-care, I make it my #1 priority, and urge all women, especially those who are leading their own movements and social causes to do the same!
HERE ARE SOME STEPS TO INCORPORATING SELF-CARE INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE:
Say No! /
As heart-centered entrepreneurs, we tend to take the entire weight of the world on our shoulders, and we want to help everybody. For this reason, boundaries are not our forte. But creating strong boundaries and saying “no” to things that don’t feel good or that will create resentment later, is actually a gift.
Boundaries can be as simple as not answering e-mails on Sunday, or saying no to bringing a suitcase full of gifts halfway around the world. They help us protect our own needs while not depleting our energy.
Do What Lights You Up /
What are those activities that light you up and energize you? For me it’s going to a yoga class, exploring nature, and meeting new people! Anytime I start to feel burned out, I head straight into nature, sign up for a yoga class or get social.
It’s like pushing a reset button.
Once you figure out your own reset button, you can use this as a tool to stay balanced and avoid future burnout.
Schedule it In /
Take these energizing activities and include them in your weekly schedule. I’ve found that schedules actually create more freedom! I love to schedule important energizing activities before anything else each month—that way I make sure to do them!
Schedule in things like yoga/gym dates, doctors and dentist appointments, and other self-care like getting your hair done or going to the spa. You could even create a daily schedule with morning and nighttime rituals full of energizing and grounding activities like journaling, reading and meditation.
These activities are different for everybody, but once you figure out yours, schedule them in!
You do You /
With so many people in the world that need our help, it can be tempting to try and help everyone and leave nothing for ourselves.
I definitely learned this the hard way, but I now know that not until we are taken care of can we take care of others. Now I don’t deplete my savings to help with hunger crises—I make sure all my bills are paid and then with what’s left over, I chose to help those in need.
I take care of myself first, then I take care of others.
Find Your Tribe /
Doing the challenging work we’re doing in the world can be overwhelming and lonely at times.
When we start to feel burned out, talking to someone else who has been through it before and whom we can relate to can be profound. So many people in the humanitarian field are on the verge of burnout; finding a community of people who understand can make the biggest difference in the world!
Self-care is so important, especially for us purpose-driven women.
When we take time to take a break and refocus, we set ourselves up for sustainable growth and success. We create a strong foundation of practices and boundaries so that we don't get burned out or experience compassion fatigue.
This is why self-care can actually improve our cause and advance our mission. When we take care of ourselves, get enough rest, and rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul, we are at our best to do the work that we are meant to do in the world!
How do you incorporate self-care into your daily life?
Elisabetta is the Founder of the Global Dream Collective, a community of adventurous women dreamers and change-makers who are up to big things in the world! She is also the founder of Kurandza, a non-profit that empowers women and girls in Mozambique through entrepreneurship and educational opportunities. She enjoys writing about travel and conscious living on her blog, doing yoga and exploring nature. San Francisco is her home, and she spends over half the year traveling in East Africa and around the world working with her non-profit and through consulting with other social enterprises.