Lucy Brazier lists five simple ways to make sure that you take care of yourself, so that you can continue to take care of others.
You’ve worked long and hard to get where you are. Good for you! No doubt you’re a high-achiever, a multi-tasker, and very efficient. And, on any given day, there are probably lots of different hats that you wear. Your boss is one lucky person!
Given your personality, just doing a good job is very satisfying. Hopefully, you’re also appreciated by those you care for. It certainly helps, especially on the challenging days.
Let me share a bit of reality. There’s actual research that shows that, in some instances, people who act as caretakers for those with chronic diseases pre-decease the people for whom they’re caring. Okay – you’re not in that role. However, here’s the bottom line: your job is stressful because taking care of others is stressful! Additionally, stress is cumulative. So even if one particular day isn’t so bad, little by little, it builds up.
So, how do you continue to do your job and do it well, but also take care of you?
The first answer has to do with your attitude. I referred a few sentences ago to your personality – it’s likely that if you’re in this position, you tend to put others’ needs before your own. Though that way of thinking could be an entire article in itself, let me make this easy for you. Unless you take care of yourself, then you will not be able to maintain your continued energy to take care of others. It’s almost like ‘Super Mums’ who do everything for everyone but themselves. If they don’t refuel at some point, they can’t keep going.
Let me now offer you some simple tools to take care of yourself. These can actually be done on the job, during the day!
1. Take a deep, de-stressing breath
Take the breath in through your nose, past your throat, past your chest, into your solar plexus – that’s the area just below your rib cage. Hold it to the count of four and then release it very slowly, again to the count of four through your lips, keeping them only partly opened. It’s very important to do this slowly. This type of breathing will jump start the part of your body that relaxes you.
2. Stop just for a moment and ‘tune in’ to your body
Does it feel tight or tense? If so, imagine bringing your breath to that part of your body thereby relaxing it. The less tense your body is, the more easily you will be able to flow with whatever is happening.
3. Things getting just a little too tense? Take a bathroom break
While there, go on a mini vacation. Just relax yourself. Now visualize any place that feels good to you. It can be somewhere you’ve actually been to or someplace you make up in your mind. It can be indoors or outdoors, it doesn’t matter. But as you imagine this place, really put yourself there: see everything around you, all the sights and colours. Notice any sounds or sensations. Allow yourself to really be in the moment with this visualization. If you can, do this for about five minutes – it will make a major difference when you go back in the office.
4. Take your lunch break!
It’s important to give yourself some time away. Eating at your desk doesn’t allow you to have some much needed down time or enjoy your food. While on your lunch break, relax and have some fun conversation with others. Social support is a great stress reducer.
5. Finish on time … or close to it
Let’s face it, the work will be there tomorrow. As I’ve written in a previous article, it’s important to set boundaries.
So, there you have it – five simple tools that you can start using right away to take care of you. Trust the process and trust yourself!