Businesses can’t run without people, right? Modern Agile principles highlight the idea you need to “Make People Awesome” and if we take that seriously, we have to look at the mental and physical health of our teams.
As a manager, a scrum master or agile coach, it’s your role to keep an eye on team health, but you can’t do that without first looking after yourself. You know how on the plane safety videos they talk about ensuring your own oxygen mask is on before you assist others with theirs? This is the same principle. Look after yourself so that you can look after your team.
You may have heard of self-care already, and if the internet is anything to go by – it will conjure up images of bubble baths, spending all day in bed or sitting in front of Netflix for hours at a time. And it is all that, but it’s also something much deeper and more important.
Self-care, put simply, is you looking after yourself in whatever way works best for you. One way to think of it is considering how you look after your body when you get sick. If you have a bad cold, you spend the day in bed resting and staying warm and hydrated. When you’re stressed and tense, you need to do the same thing, but for your mind.
Where to start with self-care
- Mindfulness meditation – Mindfulness is a way of ordering your thoughts and recentring yourself. The Headspace app has specific meditations for stress, anxiety and falling asleep. They even have some great walking meditations, which leads to…
- Going out into nature – there are scientific reasons for why this can make you feel good! Exposure to sunshine improves your mood and battles Seasonal Affective Disorder. Trees create oxygen and numerous scientific studies show that Forest Bathing improves mood and brain function.
- Talking things through – either with a trusted friend or with a paid professional. Talking about what’s bothering you can shed a light on deeper problems, or issues you may not be aware are affecting you. Getting things out of your head is powerful. There’s a lot of stigma against seeking help from a mental health professional, but look at it this way: if you had a chest infection you’d go see a doctor for medicine. If you have a mental health issue, going to see a counsellor or therapist is the equivalent. You can’t solve all your problems on your own, it’s okay to ask for help.
- Give back to the community – whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, training guide dog puppies or donating your KonMari’d clutter to the women’s refuge, giving back to the community is good for your soul. Other ideas: clearing trash off a public beach, join a mentoring programme, visit an elderly relative or just ask a friend if there’s something you can help with. Giving back to the community and to people in your life feeds the soul. Humans are social animals, and we get a good feeling from helping others.
Those are the basic tenets. Here’s a list of small things to consider.
- Go to the art gallery or museum – fire up some neurons
- Exercise – get the endorphins pumping
- Go dancing – let loose
- Go to the beach – the sea’s negative ions can improve mood
- Read a book – escape your own thoughts for a while
- Tend a garden – reconnect with nature with your hands
- Declutter and clean your home – make your nest more restful to be in
- Karaoke – sing out your feelings and frustrations
- Freewriting – sit down with a pen and paper and unload your thoughts onto a page
- Get a massage – treat your body and relax
That’s just for starters, but self-care can look a lot of different ways.
Look out for signs in your team that people need to be taking care of themselves or others better, and see if you can introduce some team activities which promote better self-care. We’d love some more ideas, so if you have a preferred self-care method not mentioned above, please comment and let us know.