This month I want to discuss self-care. The reason here, is the few people I have spoken to over the last month, tell me how constantly busy they are. I know I put a TED talk in last month about triaging your crazy busy life, but I thought I would address it again about how to keep yourself safe and as stress free as possible. You might like to take another look at the TED Talk.
Stress is something we can’t get away from, but it is how we manage the stress we are under that is important. Telling yourself how busy you are, is only going to make yourself more stressed and ultimately you get less done. So, think about how important your self-talk is. I had an interesting talk with my grandson recently about fear. He was to attend a new swimming class and he said to me “I am scared, and I have a headache and a funny tummy”. When I asked him why, he told me because it was new, and he didn’t know anyone in his class. So, what did we talk about?
Firstly, it is natural to be fearful when you are to attend something new, but once you get there and start the swimming, you will find the headache and the funny tummy, will go away. Of course, this is what happened. The fear went away, the tummy settled down and he got into the swimming.
What is interesting though, he is now using the skills we talked about to help coach his mates through fear. I witnessed him encouraging a mate, who could not swim, to use a surfboard in the pond on our property. He is turning out to be a wonderful, patient teacher. Very encouraging and instilling trust with his colleagues. What a wonderful skill for an 8 year old to have. His teachers tell us he is doing this to help others at school to. This of course will stand him in great stead throughout his life and what’s more, he is now seeing the positive results from his mates with their confidence soaring.
Now a big part of your job is to keep the staff together. Often you may feel there is no one there for you. It can be a very lonely place at the top because you cannot afford to fall apart. Boy do I know that. In 1989, I was the charge nurse of a long-term care ward in the public sector. This was when all long-term care was taken out of the public system. Our ward was the last to close and I chose redundancy as my option. Others on my ward were also being made redundant. Our ward was the holding pen so to speak for them. It was a hard time and I couldn’t afford to fall apart. I had to keep everyone together. I know how important and hard it is and how alone you sometimes feel. So how can you take care of yourself, while keeping the team together?
I believe the first thing to do in selfcare is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done you wanted to do. Take a breath. Write a list. Now ideally prioritise the list in order of importance if you can but that in itself can increase your stress. It just takes more ‘brain time’ in an already overloaded brain and it may be just too much. So, just get them out of you head onto paper and tick them off when completed. What doesn’t get done today, can wait till tomorrow.
Don’t take your frustration out on your staff or loved ones. They are relying on you to keep everything functioning. Hard and all as it is, don’t let them fall apart because you are falling apart. Take a breath and tell yourself you can do this, and you will get through it. It’s amazing what happens when you say you can rather than you can’t.
Take care of yourself. Get a massage, go for a relaxing walk, meet up with friends in the best way you can (you can do this electronically just as well) Put some oils in an infuser, listen to some music or learn meditation or mindfulness. These are amazing tools for quieting your very busy mind. If you do not know how to meditate, just find a guided meditation on you tube, sit or lie down and relax. Take a few deep breaths and just listen to the meditation, preferably via headphones and see how it subtly changes the way you feel.
I guess finally you should always have hope. When you have hope, then life has some meaning, so don’t lose hope. This current state will pass, and you can then look back with pride, so take care of yourself now. If you are worried about how to manage your stress, there are some great tips here.