Self-care has become a buzzword, cropping up frequently when work-life balance is discussed, however it is something entrepreneurs often forget in the the midst of running their business.
The idea of kindness towards self is a concept Tasmanian sociologist and School of Social Sciences senior lecturer Nicholas Hookway touches on in his study of morality.
Dr Hookway worked with Australian Business Consulting & Solutions as an Australian panellist for the World Kindness Movement, which produced the WorkplaceInfo Business Kindness Index report.
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The information contained within the report was an extension of work Dr Hookway completed in conducting the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes with fellow University of Tasmania academic Associate Professor Daphne Habibis.
"There's a big discourse now about being kind to self and looking after self and care for self," Dr Hookway said.
During the social attitude survey the researchers asked about respondent's motivations for kindness.
"The majority of respondents, when asked to categorise their motivations, would say it's who I am, I can't help responding like this, I go with my feelings. They had an interiorised way of talking about the sources of their kindness, or sources of morality," he said.
"We've seen a shift from external rules for morality to a more internal set of guidelines - you do what feels right, you go with your gut."
While these motivations showed many people felt kindness was an innate part of who they were, business owners often forget to treat themselves with the same level of kindness as they would another person.
West Launceston business coach Roland Hanekroot said entrepreneurs tended to be hard on themselves, rather than being kind.
"We need to show business owners that super-critical voice that sits on your shoulder and tells you what's wrong is not helpful; it's counterproductive," Mr Hanekroot said.
This voice is the same self-protection instinct that kicks in to remind you to check your parachute before jumping, so it has a purpose, but it needs to be reminded to relax every so often.
"It absolutely serves a purpose, but if we give it too much importance, or try to push those feelings of guilt or not being good enough away, it will find a way through anyway," he said.
One of the reasons business owners don't focus on self-care or being kind to themselves as often as they should, is many work alone or away from their peers.
"They need to get involved with some other people and find someone to remind them to be kind to themselves," Mr Hanekroot said.
Being kind to yourself by focusing on others comes back to Dr Hookway's research, which draws on wider cultural changes around the focus on self and what this means for our society.
"A lot of the critique says that means we have a more narcissistic society, that we have a society that is less giving, but perhaps self care and self love can actually provide a moral foundation for care for others. There is a strong history of that," Dr Hookway said.
It boils down to kindness being considered within the context of others.
"We need to think of kindness as a relational thing about our sense of connection with others and our sense of concern with whether they're suffering or flourishing," he said.
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