Sally Clarke is the Co-Director at Human Leaders, a peer-to-peer learning community and movement that puts humans first at work and beyond.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care means daily practices that support my body, mind and soul so that I can thrive. Founded on self-compassion, self-care to me entails self-knowledge (knowing who I am as a unique individual, and my values, needs and desires) and self-awareness (using daily practices so I constantly tune into my thoughts, emotions and bodily signals and respond from their wise guidance).
How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?
Having been through a substantial burnout as a finance lawyer in 2010, and now working in the field of human leadership and wellbeing, being aware of the early signals of burnout is incredibly important to me.
For me, this comes down to a feeling of disconnection or misalignment from self. Symptoms might include feeling on edge, compromised sleep patterns, a tendency to reach for unhealthy coping mechanisms, and anxious or negative thought patterns. These are signals for me to really tap into my daily practices to re-ground and re-align with self.
Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?
Absolutely: as I set out in my book Protect Your Spark (which looks at what we as individuals can do to empower ourselves against burnout), I use an array of practices to ensure I can optimally maintain self-awareness.
The key ones are: (1) healthy sleep and rest habits (2) daily meditation (3) regular yoga practice to connect with my body (4) emotional awareness & regulation (5) investing time and energy in connecting with loved ones (6) protecting my attention from energy zappers such as social media or unnourishing news media (7) journaling regularly (8) time in nature.
What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course?
A busy schedule can interrupt my self-care routine, so during those times I bring extra mindfulness so I make sure I’m really taking care of myself (because that’s often when I need it most!).
I’ve worked hard to ensure that I do not experience a disruption to my self-care routine as a disaster – it’s life! I can happily enjoy a few days of reduced sleep or less healthy eating patterns (for example, on holiday, or when a friend is visiting), knowing that my routine will be there again soon. This non-rigid approach serves me, and helps me trust the process rather than wanting to exert control at all times.
Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?
I derive inspiration from friends, and from the community of leaders at Human Leaders. In addition, all the research that goes into my books and my ongoing work as a wellbeing and anti-burnout expert keeps me up to date on new trends and ideas around self-care.
I believe that the fundamentals of self-care should be free of charge and readily accessible, so I’m more likely to lean into yoga and meditation, a walk in nature, a call with a friend, or a journalling session with a good cup of coffee.
What do you think you need to improve in terms of your self-care practice?
One goal I have for 2022 is to focus more on unguided, vipassana-style meditation rather than leaning on guided meditations, to allow for more silent space and ultimately a deeper practice. Other than that, I’m deeply grateful that my own experience and expertise around burnout keeps me pretty vigilant on the self-care front.
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.