Be self-aware to practise self-care – Birds on the Blog

Be self-aware to practise self-care

Everyone thinks that self-care is about getting our nails and highlights done once every six weeks. But it is more than that. Self-care comes in many forms and needs carrying out with differing degrees of intensity and regularity. What constitutes self-care varies from one person to another depending on where they are in their lives. The problem with self-care is we can get away without it for days or even months and we don’t notice. Being and looking uncared for becomes our normal look. It’s only when there is a problem that we sit up and pay attention.

Joanne came for an evening coaching session. She wanted coaching because she was struggling to assert herself when two divisions within her company were being merged into one following a takeover. She was concerned that her department (and therefore her role) and team would be swallowed whole and spat out in the very near future. She claimed that despite having the most experience and top qualifications, putting in long hours preparing a strategy, she was being out manoeuvred by her counterpart from the incoming company, who was her junior by 5 years. She was now worried about her job. Even though she should be able to self-advocate she said she just sat in meetings tongue-tied and unable to make any useful contribution, while her nemesis forged ahead with confidence and gusto, out-gunning her on every level.


I thought Joanne had come to the session straight from the gym. In fact, she had come from the office. Her focus was work and had been so for about 6 months since the takeover. Her late nights in the office and early morning starts had morphed into one sleep deprived 80-hour week blur. Her personal life was in trouble and her attempts to conceive were falling by the wayside. Her husband was getting fed up.  She had also stopped wearing make-up and it seemed that she had possibly lost her hairbrush.  Her garments of choice were more appropriate for a rock festival than the offices of a multi-national. Even her sneakers looked ratty.

Joanne had stopped practicing self-care. She hadn’t taken any exercise in living memory and couldn’t remember if she had eaten lunch. She said thought if she stopped eating it didn’t matter if she didn’t exercise. Well, not good on both counts

Self-care is more than hair and nails

Self-care is not just about hair and nails, exercise and a healthy diet although that plays a part. Self-care is about making sure you can present your best self, hopefully, most of the time, but certainly when it counts. Even though Joanne was putting in the hours, when it came to delivery day, she had self-sabotaged. Looking unkempt, tired, lacking in energy and lustre she had diminished her authority and credibility. This created a hairline fracture in her persona, which her opponent was able to tap into. Despite his lack of experience, he had successfully undermined her and eroded her confidence, to the point where she was unable to perform.

Create a habit of self-awareness

Understanding what is going on for you and what makes you tick is a vital component of self-care. Carrying out a career and even life audit is invaluable to make sure you are anchored. People who are self-aware, practice self-care. They know when they need a manicure and they make time. If they don’t it will be a conscious decision and they will keep an emery board in their desk drawer to take some shortcuts. They understand the importance of sleep, diet and healthy relationships. This is not just for support and being nurtured because that is important, but also to be stimulated, challenged and even contradicted.

Making sure that you are anchored means that you listen to and respect your basic needs, whatever they are for you at any given time. Knowing that your needs change and can be different at the various stages of your life is vital to setting goals and making plans. Feeling confident is about believing you have the skills and ability to deal with any situation.

So, ask yourself some regular self-care questions:

  • What are my goals, values, priorities and vision?
  • Are my actions aligned with my thinking? If not why not?
  • What options do I have to change? If none- why?
  • Do I need to change my goals or my actions to get back on track?

We are all our greatest assets. It’s important to care, believe and invest in ourselves.  


About the Author Dorothy Dalton

Successful completion of hundreds of global executive search and research assignments with levels ranging from entry, through middle management to board level. Effectively sourcing, attracting and placing the best possible candidates (passive and active), while maintaining strict adherence to best practises, within tight deadlines, in a timely and cost effective way. Strong skills in consolidating client/candidate relationships. Proficient at extending employer brand and advocate for treating all candidates with integrity. Experience and strategic networks in most geographies: EMEA, APAC, Americas Certified Trainer and Career Coach (Cognitive Behavioural Coaching) I support individuals through every type of career transition and competence training: job search, onboarding, pre-retirement coaching. Motivator. Resilience and confidence builder. Restore self belief. Webinar and workshop design and delivery. 1 on 1 coaching in Brussels or other locations by arrangement. Moderation of online career clinics. International and Executive MBA graduate coaching: Designed, modernised and delivered updated career management programmes to enhance career prospects of cross-cultural MBA cohorts.