How can busy leaders make time for self-care? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

First, check-in with your relationship with self-care and what it means to you. And if it's anything but awesome, nourishing, and something that you want to be in partnership with, redefine it. Often people have self-care as this big thing that is so daunting (and impossible) that they avoid it or feel bad about it. For example, train 5 days a week at the gym! Eat perfectly! Yoga daily! Meditate! Sleep 8 hours! Get massages! Big vacations! Etc. etc. (I get exhausted even writing this list!) BUT, self-care can be little and "in the cracks" moments that nourish our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Those things I listed are great - go for it as they resonate for you, and know that self-care is so much more.

Here are some other examples of self-care that don't take a lot of time (or take zero as they're just a mindset shift): taking 5-10 minute breaks between meetings to catch your breath, using the bathroom when you need to (vs. holding it), hydrating throughout the day, being kind to yourself (really watching and nourishing your self-talk, this is HUGE), telling yourself something really nice as about you as you brush your teeth, doing wall sits or squats while on a conference call, stretching for 10 minutes, doing 20 pushups before you jump in the shower, choosing healthy clean food over fast food, preparing meals on a Sunday afternoon to set your week up right, bagging your favorite quickie go-to snacks and keeping them easy to access so you are never in a pinch for good food choices, saying NO when you mean NO and YES when you mean YES, telling the truth, not participating in drama, gossip, or complaint sessions, turning your complaints into requests instead, and... I could go on forever.

In the more traditional sense of self-care and building time in for exercise, meditation, eating well, etc. I believe that self-care is a leadership skill and one of our biggest assets to nurture. We can't lead at our best when we're exhausted, depleted, not resourced, or burnt out. So I'm a big fan of making the time. If that means less TV or social media the night before, or no wine (or malnourishing gossip convos with people who keep calling you to complain), so you can take care of yourself, get more sleep, and/or get up an hour earlier to get a workout or meditation session in - create the space. Self-care is a choice. Sometimes this one is easy to forget in the busyness of our lives, it's often "back-burnered" - but it is essential. If you can find why it's important to you and what's at stake (as well as what's to win), you'll likely find places where you can create more space and choose you and self-care over other things that may not be serving you as much. I've never met anyone who created that space for themselves who wasn't grateful they did and who didn't find that that extra space for themselves made them a stronger, clearer, more present leader and human for those around them. So find what works for you and let fifteen minutes be great if that's what you've got. Be kind, be in partnership with your well-being, and play with it.

The trick here is to pay keen attention to how you treat yourself and how you feel throughout your day. Does the way you take care of yourself (your food, thoughts, people you hang with, etc) serve and energize you, or not? If not, makes shifts. Every little one counts.

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Published on: Nov 22, 2019