CEO to CEO: Simple Steps to Self-Care

speech bubbles Associations Now March/April 2018 Issue

Four association executives explain how they stay mentally sharp and physically fit on or off the job.

Organizational culture is driven by leadership that is living proof of best corporate behaviors. In this era of integrated personal and professional lifestyles, remaining sharp—physically, psychologically, emotionally—is critical for success. I use a combination of routines for physical activity, periods of personal reflection with mindfulness practices, and a coupling of avocation activity with socializing among family and friends. I also step away from electronics and digital devices.

—Peter Angood, M.D., President & CEO, American Association for Physician Leadership, Tampa, Florida. 

I devote time away from work every day to exercise, pet my two cats, talk to friends and family, and take bubble baths. For longer breaks, I recharge by totally changing environments and spending time in Paris speaking a different language and being surrounded by different stimuli. All this leads to a fresh approach and mental acuity.

Debra Wentz, Ph.D., President & CEO, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc., Trenton, New Jersey

During a stressful time at work, a trusted colleague asked, “How do you take care of yourself?” When I hesitated before answering, he pointed out that as CEO, I am a resource of the association, and taking care of myself is a legitimate part of the job. This simple statement made me more comfortable scheduling time for what I need to stay healthy. I work out with a trainer to keep my body and mind moving, and I play video games to keep my mind sharp.

Mary Jane Cobb, CAE, Executive Director, Iowa State Education Association, Des Moines, Iowa

I practice hot yoga three to four times a week, which provides a cardio benefit as well as mindfulness, both of which are shown to be good for brain health and mental acuity. On my non-yoga days, I do some form of cardio, either elliptical or cycling. And I’ve started meditating—for just 10 minutes—using an app called Headspace.

Kate Penn, CEO, Society of American Florists, Alexandria, Virginia