The Self-care Effect

leadership mindset and goals personal development Mar 28, 2022

All human beings need to rest, repair, and recover from daily stress on the mind and body to function at optimum levels in their personal or professional life. The best way to accomplish this, is by paying attention to one's self-care, as it can make a big difference between success and failure. I call it the self-care effect. 

The Two Woodcutters 

The two woodcutters' story is a fitting illustration of the results you will receive from your efforts if you take care of yourself or if you do not. Once upon a time, two woodcutters got into a heated debate over who could cut the most wood on any given day. So one day, they met in the forest to settle the dispute, with one requirement; the one who cuts the most wood by the end of the day would be declared the winner. 

After the first hour of cutting wood, Peter took a break. When John didn't hear any chopping, he became elated, concluding that Peter had run out of steam. So John kept chopping away. This chopping and resting by Peter continued for the entire day, with John only stopping once to have lunch. 

At the end of the day, both men counted how many trees they had cut, and to John's amazement, Peter had cut down more trees than he. "How could that be possible when I heard you stop so many times while I only stopped once?" he asked. "Every time I took a break, I sharpened my axe," Peter replied.

By now, you would have gotten the message. You are sharpening your axe whenever you engage in deliberate and planned activities to take care of your mental, physical or emotional health. In essence, you are improving your levels of performance and your chances of becoming more productive.

The Law of Diminishing Return

According to the law of diminishing return, productivity decreases beyond a certain point in proportion to extended efforts. In other words, the quality and quantity of your results diminish after extending yourself over some time without a break. Hence, doing a lot more doesn't necessarily mean you are getting a lot more done. 

Therefore, lack of self-care can lead to low self-esteem, lack of motivation, depression, irritability, relationship problems, and suicidal ideation. On the contrary, taking care of yourself can improve your well-being, enhance your performance, improve productivity, and ultimately produce outstanding results.

Unplugging and Recharging

Have you noticed that the energy levels on your phone get depleted after certain hours of usage each day? When that happens to my phone, I stop using it for a while and put it to charge. But unfortunately, our energy levels also get depleted after a time and require that we unplug from certain activities and recharge mentally, emotionally, and physically regularly. Therefore, the first step in taking care of yourself is acknowledging that your body, brain, or heart needs to recharge and do something about it.

Things you can do to recharge include; getting adequate quality sleep, taking short breaks during daily activities, exercising daily, eating healthy and on time, learning to say no, taking a vacation, taking a "me-day," being more organized, and nurturing your significant relationships. 

Consequently, engaging in these activities may help sharpen your axe and have you become more productive in the short and long term.