The Math Behind Self-care

What if we all had 10 pellets of energy to spend each day? How many do you spend before you even get to work?

Maybe you wake up every morning rehashing things you should have said the previous day/decade. Day after day, you start with 9, the first one continually absorbed by mental stuff.

You browse the news in bed before you get up, glance at Twitter while you brush your teeth, like a few things on Instagram over your first sip of coffee. You’re down to 8.

Maybe you spend another couple on patience, getting the kids out the door. Then another 1 on traffic. Down to 5.

By 9am you have literally spent HALF of your energy pellets for the day. It’s possible that you show up to work every morning as if you were half-hungover or as if you started your day a full 6 hours before the rest of the world.

Some people have an allergic reaction to the words “self-care.” Self-care can sound wealthy, spoiled and precious. But I urge you to ignore the poor marketing, folks. “Self-care” is math, quite simply a question of depleting and refilling. Have you ever spent time in a sandbox? You can’t build mountains without making holes.

So how do you maximize those 10 energy pellets? And is there a way to earn any back? I have some ideas.

Deny regret.

And while you’re at it deny jealousy, imposter syndrome, trolls, and could-have-beens. Not one of these serve you. Do not give them an ounce of an energy pellet. When they show up in your day, call them out and turn away. Nice try, regret. You’re cut off.

Shed, continuously.

Every single thing you do today will take energy from you. Not into the book for book club this month? Stop reading it. Dragging your feet on a catch-up coffee with someone? Cancel it. There is a difference between loyalty and empty obligation — and often the difference is called guilt. There’s no room for guilt in your budget, particularly at this point in the pandemic.


I say this specifically to business owners: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE THE ONE TAKING OUT THE TRASH. Value your time and recognize the absurd tasks you’re holding onto because you’re worried people will think you’ve got an ego. Welcome to adulthood. Those people’s assumptions are their problems, not yours.

Refuel with premium.

Make time and space in your schedule for the best of the best. Whether it’s a daily call with your dad, evenings spent with nothing on the schedule or afternoon chakra work (hey, no judging!), you know the activities and people who bring you energy, whose presence in your life sends you back to your desk with renewed enthusiasm and a couple extra energy pellets. Follow these, always.

Can you imagine how efficient meetings would be if everyone had a handle on themselves and showed up with energy to spend? How quickly could decisions be made if the only topic on the table was the issue at hand?

It’s all math, folks. Practicing self-care demonstrates your understanding and appreciation of systems. You know as well as I do: the best people at work are never the ones eternally scraping the bottom of the barrel.

If you’re a manager, self-care is even more important. You can’t offer support, guidance, and direction to a group of people if you don’t have a handle on yourself. Join us for an upcoming manager training in 2021. The very notion of attending a supportive training is a gift to yourself.