Danielle Owen Whitford is the founder & CEO at Pioneera, a platform designed to help individuals and leaders create safe, productive and engaged businesses.
What does self-care mean to you?
I used to find the term self-care quite indulgent, it felt a bit lazy and something that was not just a nice to have, but only very few lucky people actually got to have. I have come to realise over the last few years that you really can’t look after others if you don’t look after yourself. So for me, it’s about balance (pardon the pun!).
How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?
I have become very aware of my stress signs, after burning out a few years ago and talking about it everyday! The main focus for me is maintaining healthy habits so I have a strong basis that I can move up and down from. A bit like a mattress – if I have a good healthy mattress I can bounce up and down with stress and I’m OK because I have a strong foundation.
My signs that send me away from my desk are sore scratchy eyes and a headache. But I also start to find it hard to type! My typing slows down and it’s really incorrect. I can only assume that happens because my brain is tapped out, so that is a good time for me to call it!
Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?
My focus is about getting balance. I will run really hard for a period of time and then make sure I have some downtime or do something that I love. I have some ways that I work that I just won’t break now – like I’ll only work late 2 nights a week.
I’ll schedule time into my diary to do family things (like pick up my kids from sports as I have the best chats with them in the car when I’m driving!), I don’t schedule meetings before 9am unless it’s urgent. I have a meeting free day on Friday and I mostly stick to it.
I also found what I love and I make a point to do it as much as I can – at least a few times a week. And that is reading! I love reading and it’s the only way I can slow my brain down, so having a good book close to hand has been critical for me to take care of myself. Oh and the biggest one – be OK with asking for help. And then taking it. Without feeling guilty!
What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course?
It’s usually a high volume of work or challenging work that requires me to think differently. If we have a big product delivery or customer delivery then it’s our full focus for the whole team until we’ve delivered.
Maintaining yourself within that is a challenge, but it’s one, as the CEO, I am very aware of. I need to lead by example and I also have to remind the team to do the same. If I don’t have that top of mind, I’m perpetuating the burnout issue we’re building to avoid.
Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?
My family and friends are an endless source of entertainment, information and support. My kids have literally been the inspiration with Indie names after my daughter Indie and our assessment engine named Baxter after my son. I would miss SO much if it wasn’t for my sisters and mum constantly sending me useful links, books, podcasts, school notices!
Sometimes I’m like “what, there are 30 messages there!”, but it’s always useful! My friends are so fab at making sure I get to dinners/drinks/coffees and have a life outside of work. I am so grateful for all the fab people in my life! I love my Kindle and take it everywhere with me and I can be found in the lounge late at night downloading great books to read!
Before you go…
Self-Care is our new interview series exploring the different self-care routines and habits of people from all walks of life. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to talk about your self-care routine.