Laura Munkholm’s Self-Care Routine: “Creating space in my life for things that bring me joy.”

Laura Munkholm is the President and Co-Founder of Walla, a modern fitness studio management software.

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What does self-care mean to you?

I define self-care as creating space in my life for things that bring me joy and fill my cup. I had a business coach early in my career who encouraged me to document things over seven days that made me feel genuine happiness, eased tension, and invigorated me.

She called it my Well-Being Checklist. She guided me to take a week of my life to pay close attention to my feelings and actions—and to this day, I keep that list in my phone notes. When I have a crazy stressful week or simply can’t get out of a funk, I reach for that list. It becomes my self-care anchor.

Of course, there are luxurious things on there, like massages, but the majority of the list contains simple things. Good conversations with friends, doing a few sun salutations, taking a full deep breath of fresh air, a 10-minute meditation break with my kids, reading while sipping warm tea, a spontaneous beach walk, or—my favourite—a kitchen dance party. These little things can fill my cup as much as an indulgent self-care day. 

How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?

I know the stress becomes too much to handle when I get short with my kids, husband, or team. When I lose patience, I know I’ve got to step back and let something go. To be honest, it’s not super common for me to feel burnout because I truly love what I do.

But don’t get me wrong; there have been a few times when the late nights, lack of sleep, or general pressure of life and work weigh on me. I usually see it impact my sleep, and the second I snap at my kids or dread starting my workday, I know something is wrong. I need to find a moment to do one thing on my checklist, reset, shift my thought process, and conquer the day. 

Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?

I wish I could say 100% yes, but the honest truth is that it goes in waves. I’ve had months where I go to yoga or work out five days a week and cook dinners for my family. Then I’ll go five days without exercise and order dinner out because work and my kid’s schedules are just too much for us to juggle.

I have one consistent routine that has been unwavering since the beginning of the pandemic. When I wake up, I make myself (and my husband) a glass of lemon water, and then I take my dog Luna for an early morning walk. It’s a great way to start the day with sunlight, fresh air, and usually an audiobook or some great tunes to set my mood. 

What bumps you off your self-care routine, and how do you get back on course?

The biggest hurdles are schedules. I’m at the stage now with my 11- and 9-year-old, where we have sports and weekend tournaments. Our lives revolve around who’s driving who—and where we are going. 

There are only so many hours in the day, so sometimes my self-care routine has to happen in 15 mins or at the crack of dawn. Balancing that with a more-than-full-time software startup has proven difficult, but we’ve learned to work together to make the system run mostly smoothly. 

What helps me get back on track is remembering that I don’t have to do it all and it’s okay to ask for help. Parents today put a ton of pressure on themselves to handle everything. Then I remember carpools were the only way I could play sports as a kid!

We have so many people in our communities that can help and who we can help. It’s simply about being vulnerable enough to ask. We don’t need all 12 parents picking up from practice at 7 pm. We could split the task! Then we can all take care of ourselves a little better. 

Where do you go for inspiration, ideas, or tools for self-care?

As I mentioned, I had an amazing coach who helped me get creative about my self-care. I naturally will just work, work, work, so I need someone to hold me accountable occasionally. I’m also a big reader and find so many little nuggets of wisdom in my books.

Whether it’s Brene Brown or Elizabeth Gilbert, I love hearing other incredibly successful women talk about what feeds their souls. I find so much inspiration in their words and ideas. 

What do you think you need to improve in terms of your self-care practice?

Consistency. Permission—and a wee bit more time. I can get by with a few minutes to myself each day or a quick snuggle with my children to make me feel grounded. But the reality is that we all need a little more time to fill our cups consistently.

The expectations we’ve all adapted to as working parents in a post-pandemic world are unrealistic for a healthy life. We can’t be “on” every waking minute of the day and must practise what we preach.

If I tell my kids they can’t have screens before bed, then I spend an hour on my email at 10 pm; how will they listen? Or if I tell my staff to take a vacation and not check email, but then I email them daily on my vacation, they will feel guilty if they don’t stay connected. I could get better at allowing myself to take a break or turn off screens early to rest.

Before you go…

Self-Care is a content 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.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.