Female Leaders and Self Care: Learn To Enjoy The Moment

My Hawaiian Vacation

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Hawaii for vacation almost every year for more than a decade. The first time I went I could barely afford it and stayed on an organic farm in Hana with 2 friends and one bed. Not exactly relaxing – we were kept up all night by (adorable) feral kittens climbing the screened-in walls, crying to be let in. 

In August of 2021, my wife and I embarked on another Hawaiian vacation while she was in the middle of closing a business deal. One afternoon, in particular, was spent running around the island trying to find a charger for her laptop so she could finish up her work  – another failed attempt at tuning out and drifting away. 

A Birthday Delight

Our most recent trip to Hawaii was for my son’s spring break and my 51st birthday. My wife booked a spa day for me and a friend, and I was looking forward to being pampered and finally getting some R&R. 

Arriving at the spa everything was great! I was led down a lush, winding path to a private outdoor treatment room that was perfectly designed and featured a gurgling fountain.

(It is really hard for interior designers to relax in poorly designed spaces but that’s a topic for another day).  

My self-care day journey started with a dry skin brushing, then I was covered in warm algae mud and wrapped in a cocoon of towels while my feet were scrubbed and massaged. It was heaven, until it wasn’t.

Self-Care with a Side of Guilt 

My therapist was just getting to the good part, a full body massage, when I started feeling uncomfortable. As if on queue, my mind began to race with concerns for the therapist…

Was she tired? Was she thirsty? Was she worried about getting Covid? Were my feet too calloused and sweaty?

And then entered other random thoughts…

Was I hearing rain or the fountain? Was my wife resentful that she was taking care of our son – possibly in the rain? Was the tip included?  If not, how much should I tip?

Why couldn’t I just lie there and relax my mind?!  

My friend and I met up in the gorgeous outdoor whirlpool afterward and I asked her – did you have trouble relaxing? She sure did.

Even in the whirlpool I was taking videos and photos and selecting the perfect song for my IG reel when it dawned on me, I had exceeded my threshold of self-care.

Actually, scratch that. I had exceeded my threshold of being taken care of. I could not receive two hours of attention, love, and pampering and just allow myself to enjoy it.

As female leaders, we naturally assume the responsibility of carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders for our business, our employees, our families, and our expectations. But we struggle with allowing ourselves to receive the same care and attention we freely give to others every day.

As I thought about how this relates to my beloved interior design clients, it occurred to me that this is why the primary bedroom is always the last room designed – no one is going to see it, right? Maybe we think it’s selfish, or too indulgent to design a space that is really just for our own enjoyment? 

Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that self-care isn’t selfish. As a female leader, it’s very much earned and needed! 

Tell me, do you share my struggle with being taken care of?