• Jenny Barnes

Looking after number one!

Looking after number one!

It’s a funny thing how words and phrases can have a strong connotation attached to them, but when considered in a different light reveal new depths and meaning. To ‘look after number one’ traditionally suggests a selfish attitude or putting yourself first to the exclusion of all others. But what if other people rely on your wellbeing? What if your positive mindset, physical health, expertise and time has the potential to influence the lives of those around you?

If that is the case then you owe it to everyone you know to look after yourself, even if it means occasionally putting your needs first… For the greater good, of course.

What have you done for yourself lately?

The reality is that we all have limits and, as entrepreneurs and go-getters, we rarely stop or pay attention to the little alarms and signals our bodies send us. I’m sure you’ve experienced your fair share of early mornings, late nights, weekend working and ‘lunch is for wimps’ in your time – all in the name of getting stuff done. In the end, however, no one wins when we get into that ever-decreasing state of stressed-outness. We suffer, physically and emotionally; our work suffers as our attention levels drop; our staff and customers suffer; and our innocent friends and families often have to step in to try and hold us together.

Recently, at the end of a particularly busy period of work, a friend of mine asked, “What have you done for ‘you’ recently?” Now, things are actually pretty good at the moment, and I’m nowhere in the landscape I described above, but perhaps the week was showing on my face a little. It did, however, get me thinking about some of my trusty old self-care ‘good’ habits.

Being mindful of yourself and daring to care.

If you care about your family, your friends, your business, your staff and (dare I say it) your customers, you simply have to look after yourself. That means you have to learn to say things like “No” or “Not right now” or “Yes, I can do that for you next week” or even “Of course, I’ll look at that when I get back from my holiday.”

You have to look at the things it is possible for you to do on any given day and allow yourself permission to dismiss any unreasonable demands. You must find a way to take time out and reconnect with your peaceful, creative, brilliant, positive, accurate, rational, intelligent and unique self. Dare to care about you and everyone else will benefit from you being at your best.

Indulge in the moment and let the new you shine!

After my friend had reminded me to look after number one I decided to start one of my old mindfulness meditations again, and what a difference that made. Here is what you do:

  • Find a quiet place with no one else around

  • Slowly breathe in, hold it, and then out again (counting 1 on the exhale)

  • Repeat the same slow breath (this time counting 2 on the exhale)

  • Repeat until you get to 21, each time focus on nothing more than the feeling and sound of your breathing

  • If any other thoughts enter your mind, imagine them floating along a stream and simply let them keep going

  • When you get to 21, take a moment, refocus and then repeat from the beginning

  • You should aim to do 3 sets of 21 in total

The exercise above should take no more than 10 minutes and its effects are worth many hours of a better you. A calmer, more energetic, totally focused and altogether stronger version of you will emerge. Allow yourself moments of mindfulness like this each day and everyone will benefit – I promise.

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