Self Care for Leaders: what, why & how

Self Care for Leader Well Being

“Rest and self care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel. ”  Eleanor Brown
What is self care?
Self care is all the things you do to take care of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It begins by checking in with oneself, ideally on a daily basis, and asking ourselves: “How am I, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically? And now, what do I need to be renewed, well and whole?” Whole people become whole leaders!

Why does it matter?
If you are a leader, a parent , a volunteer – a person who gives in service to the wellbeing, learning and development of others, the team, the organization and community, then high levels of both self care and care of others is important. Self care is essential in managing stress, helping us to show up fully and be present, to be in integrity with our values, and delivering on our leader, parent and volunteer best. Self care helps us to show up moment to moment, our personal leadership best.

How to practice self care ?  One approach is to  use the “Wholesome Wheel” Tool  

Wholesome Wheel Tool

Whole People become Whole Leaders

Reflect on the Four Dimensions of Wellbeing and Your Self Care:


Overall healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, sleep and rest, time away from overuse of electronic devices.

Question: How is your physical wellbeing? What self care practice would increase your physical wellbeing?


Personal and professional learning and development; time for reflection, cultivate self awareness through journaling; getting feedback from others; coaching or mentoring moments.

Question: How is your mental wellbeing? What self care practice would increase your mental wellbeing?


Give and receive love/compassion, kindness and support, spend time with people you care about and who care about you; live your values; spend time in your passions; grow your emotional intelligence.

Question: How is your emotional wellbeing? How will your values help you with your self care? What self care practice would increase your emotional wellbeing?


Connecting with essence, higher purpose and meaning; through meditation, prayer or the philosophical quest for self understanding; gratitude practice; time in nature; practicing mindfulness and being present in the moment.

Question: How is your spiritual wellbeing? What self care practice would increase your spiritual wellbeing?

Your Self Care Challenge:

Check in daily, what are you experiencing? What do you need mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Commit to one act of self care daily!

Self Care for  Leader Wellbeing Resources

  • Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005) Resonant leadership: renewing yourself and connecting with others through mindfulness, hope and compassion.
  • Brown, B. (2012) Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.
  • Bunting, M. (2016) The Mindful leader: 7 practices for transforming your leadership, your organization and your life. New Jersey: Wiley.
  • Fredrickson, B. (2009) Positivity: ground breaking research reveals the upward spiral that will change your life. New York: Crown Publishing.
  • Friedman, S. (2014) Work+Home+Commnity+Self: skills for integrating every part of your life. Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Review, Cambridge: HBR Press.
  • Hanson, R. (2013) Hardwiring happiness: the new brain science of Contentment, calm and confidence. New York: Random House.
  • Honore, C. (2013) The slow fix: solve problems, work smarter, and live better in a world addicted to speed. New York: Harper One
  • Langer, E. (2014) Mindfulness in the age of complexity, an interview in Harvard Business Review March 2014 issue. HBR Press
  • Martin, R. (2007) How successful leaders think. Harvard Business Review. HBR Press.
  • Neff, K. 2011) Self compassion: the proven power of being kind to yourself. San Francisco: New York: Harper Collins.
  • Newport, C. (2016) Deep work: rules for focused success in a distracted world. New York: Grand Central Publishing.
  • Seligman, M. (2011) Flourish: a visionary new understanding of happiness and wellbeing. Toronto: Free Press.

Useful sites

Note: This material is adapted from the Women in Leadership for Life workshop, Radical Self Care.

Lillas Hatala, September 17,2016