I’ve had a hard couple of weeks that have really forced me to practice what I preach. Let’s be honest, I can talk about self-care all day long but if I’m not really having to test it, then it’s just words. I’ll admit it’s been simultaneously humbling and exciting to have folks give my advice (or more accurately, the advice I’ve gathered from soooo many books) back to me when they see I’m struggling. It’s humbling because I sometimes feel this self-imposed pressure to have it all together and I do NOT. And it’s exciting because at my job we are starting to have a common language to help us through the rough times. We no longer talk about self-care as an after thought, but a priority. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined a work place attempting a transformation like this, and that’s so exciting!
I have a couple of folks I have lunch with regularly and from day one, these lunches have been crucial to my health. We talk out our frustrations but try not to dwell on them and instead remind ourselves of what matters, remember to be grateful, and leave the diner ready to handle the rest of the day. Now let me be clear, we don’t say, “Okay and now is the time in our meal where we say what we are thankful for.” Instead, we just start to notice that it’s time to shift our focus back to the good stuff and we do it. There’s no competition about who’s has it worse or who’s doing better. It’s just a time to reset ourselves before we return to work.
Having a self-care buddy who checks in with you during a particularly hard time is crucial, it can make all the difference. Do you already have one of those but never thought of them that way? Do you want one of those? Make sure they know and agree to having that role in your life and vice versa, because knowing that can help redirect you both during rough times. Whether they are connected to you through work or your personal life, it’s so helpful to have someone who looks out for you when you are starting to drown and throws you a rope. Also when you are not struggling share with them what’s are things that bring you back to life, so that they can remind you of those things when needed.
This week one of my friends did just that, he brought me out of my downward spiral and reminded me of things I love doing. *Reminder: when you are in the “red zone” it is hard to remember what gives you joy. So make sure you have a list to refer to or a buddy to remind you so that you don’t spin out completely. I actually have a notecard in my wallet that I look at when all I can see in front of me is frustration.
One last little note, having a hard week does not necessarily mean you are burned out. It may just mean that a lot happened all at once and it was a lot. Also we are going to have times when it’s easier to let things slide off of us and when it’s not. Don’t judge yourself. I’m always surprised by what really gets to me and what doesn’t. Allow yourself to explore that when the dust settles, but in the stressful moment practice love towards yourself.
Take care of YOU.