How To Care For You So You Can Function At Your Best
In the case of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from a compartment above your head. Fit the mask to yourself first, and then assist others.
We’re all pretty familiar with this instruction. Remember the last time you boarded a plane? Yet how many of us would actually adhere to this warning? I’m almost prepared to bet my life (and my own oxygen mask) that the answer is ‘none’.
It’s instinctual that we look after someone else’s needs before our own. Through time, through society, through cultural norms, hell even through advertising, we’ve been taught to continue putting others’ needs before our own. That doing anything else is selfish! That we must push on — no complaints, no time to take a break! Stopping is for losers. You don’t get to the top by sitting down the bottom, right? Not when Penny manages to run the division, bring in the big bucks, make packed lunches for the kids, take them swimming and bake cookies for her team on a Thursday night.
The result? We bury our own needs; we keep pushing. We forget about putting our oxygen mask on first. In fact, we may as well throw it out the window.
These last few weeks have seen so much change with the pieces of our day-to-day lives thrown up in the air, tossed around and, let’s be honest, none of the pieces have yet fallen fully back in to place. There continues to be significant uncertainty and many unanswered questions.
It may be business as usual for some and, for others, the mandated isolation means your days are blending in to one another as you navigate people, decisions, priorities, ever-evolving “must action” today lists, anxiety – and somehow amongst all this try and find a level of self-care.
During these times of disconnection, uncertainty, fear and navigating our fractured work and life it can be hard to ‘dig deep’, to ‘keep going’, ‘to push through’ despite knowing ‘this too will end’.
I’ve spoken to many executives and business owners over the last few weeks and the fatigue is real.
We are struggling with mental fatigue. We are having to think, think and think harder exploring ways to pivot and decision make. Our mental capacity is stretched as we concentrate on endless zoom meetings and even more communication and as we try to sense make the significant amount of data and opinion about what to do next.
We are struggling with emotional fatigue. We are stretched to emotional capacity looking after our teams, clients, suppliers, friends, colleagues, family, children…and somehow in all of this trying to find time to look after ourselves and our own emotional journey.
We are struggling with physical fatigue. Our brains are hurting as we process, process and keep processing the delicate balance between today’s decisions and tomorrow’s plans.
Emotional, mental and physical exhaustion is real. Brain fog is real.
And sucking it up will result in you f*cking it up. Plain and simple!
So how do you add a little self-care in to the recovery plan of you? How do you ensure that you are functioning at your best and in the way that others expect of you?
1. Reach out to your confidantes
Despite the physical distancing that is being enforced make sure to schedule time with your inner circle, your select group of confidantes. This inner sanctum is where you can share how you’re feeling and openly explore options and ideas without judgement. Download this complimentary PDF of who absolutely must be in your inner circle of confidantes.
2. Find your personal sanctuary
Where is the place where you can truly take some time out to be on your own to replenish and rejuvenate? There is no doubt our sanctuaries are being challenged right now given the blending of work life in to our personal space. Add to this the closure of ‘escape places’ such as gyms, cafes, cinemas, playgrounds and theatres personal sanctuaries are few and far between. Now more than ever you need to intentionally create a space for you to just be.
3. Your ‘Be My Best Self’ habits matter
Your behaviours, your habits, your actions — whatever you choose to call them — matter if you’re going to function at your best. You can either choose to fuel your habit tank or deplete it. When we consistently adopt the right actions and behaviours that fuel our mindset and stamina in a good way, we feel present and connected, a wider perspective feeds creativity and curiosity, and we’re able to think clearly, innovate, ideate and make calm and well-thought-through decisions.
Navigating this period of change and uncertainty requires us to function at our best. Putting your own needs first is not being selfish; it is being smart.