“Enjoying your break?” I asked her.

“Not really. I find myself drowning in work emails after the kids are asleep,” she sighed.

Sounds familiar?

For high-achieving women managers and founders, taking a full break is often easier said than done. Yet hitting the pause button during holidays is more important than you might think.

In fact, the best bosses I’ve worked for (and coached!) were calm, patient, kind, good communicators and excellent listeners. And, they were also … well-rested.

I often hear the women I work with say: “It’s so busy, I can’t afford to…” (take time off, exercise, eat well, or enjoy hobbies). This perspective does a disservice to both the individual and their organisation. Leading in today’s fast-moving age requires fortitude and resilience, and a thriving leader’s secret is self-care, not self-neglect.

If you’re an overworked and overstretched manager, try these 5 steps for more energy and a better work-life balance:

1️⃣ Recognise your own value and worth beyond your work: you’re not your job title – you are way more than that. Connect to the sources of joy in your life and plan for regular activities that are fun.

2️⃣ See self-care (sleep, nutrition, exercise, regular breaks) as not a luxury but a necessity for your best cognitive and creative performance.

3️⃣ Avoid common traps of sleep deprivation and improper nutrition that hamper your leadership abilities.

4️⃣ Prioritise ruthlessly, and set healthy boundaries with your team, peers, and key stakeholders: get better at saying ‘no’ to unnecessary commitments, delegating tasks, and coaching your team.

5️⃣ Embrace the motto: “It’s so busy at work right now, I can’t afford NOT to take care of myself.”

Your path to a better work-life balance starts with reframing self-care not as an extra but as a key for thriving leadership. You cannot afford to ignore self-care: burnout rates are going up and women leaders get hit hardest.

You can’t pour wisdom, energy, empathy and ideas from an empty cup.

I am recharging my batteries in the southwest of France this week (this email was written last week and automated.) 🏝

What about you? Ready for a reboot? How are you prioritising your self-care this August?