I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve found it necessary to be quite intentional about protecting and caring for my headspace, aka – my mental well-being. There is a lot going on over here. My brothers and I share the responsibility for my 89-year-old mom, which means we each have the privilege of caring for her in four-month rotations. My rotation began in September.
I love my work and I am proud of the results my clients have achieved, but I realized recently that I am spending more time in the business than I am on the business. Understanding the importance of keeping things fresh, I’ve challenged myself by enrolling in a 12-month business coaching program. It is quite a time commitment.
Then there is ensuring that my husband gets the time and attention he deserves, not to mention all the general responsibilities of home. WOW!!! It’s a lot. I have to remind myself to exhale.
I know I’m not alone. Everyday, I talk with leaders who experience the same feelings of overwhelm. Below are just a few strategies I’ve shared with them.
I often encourage leaders “to get out of their head and into conversation.” Sharing your thoughts with others and getting additional perspective can be a time saving strategy for moving things forward. While I stand by that recommendation, I firmly believe that getting out of one’s head and putting thoughts in writing is equally effective. The best way to accomplish this is through Reflective Journaling. A day of activity and problem solving can stay with you, leaving your brain working all night long. As a result, you wake up feeling tired and low on energy.
Reflective Journaling helps leaders learn from their experiences. It has been described as the “paper mirror” because it has the power to expand self-awareness. Reflective journaling also helps to manage stress. Workplace and life stressors have a significant impact on our overall well-being. Journaling about stressful events can help you process them, release any negative feelings, and enable learning. Our emotional well-being is a key driver of the energy we bring to our lives.
Meditation is a way to get and remain centered. There are several apps that offer guided meditation to help you hone the practice (e.g., Calm, Headspace). Guided meditation provides instruction that moves you through the experience and keeps you awake (lol). Start with short meditation moments (2-5 minutes) and work your way up to more. Over time, I’ve discovered that 20 minutes is my sweet spot, and the time goes by unbelievably fast. I’m left feeling refreshed and clear headed. Meditation also stimulates my creative juices.
Stay connected to friends
A senior leader recently shared that her work and family priorities have left her with a void when it comes to her friend community. This meant that she was missing her safe space for sharing, processing, and getting solid advice from other women who could truly relate to her life experiences. My recommendation? Make a plan to connect with your friends. Get it on the calendar. It could be once a month, once a quarter or even once a year. I recently planned a girl’s weekend for myself and my two best friends in Miami. We spent time together shopping, enjoying great meals, laughing a lot, and sharing our thoughts with one another. We also retreated to our respective corners for quiet time – napping, reading, and hanging out on the beach. For me, it was restful and energizing. I returned home feeling more like myself, which has allowed my family and my clients to get the best of me in our interactions.
As a side note, a weekend getaway is not a requirement. Depending on what’s happening in your life, that might feel like a quantum leap. Baby steps work well too. Schedule a phone call or a zoom meeting with the friends you most enjoy. Get your favorite beverage, find a quiet spot, kick your feet up and connect. Community is important!
Some people believe that life is hard and I’m not here to debate that point of view. I am, however, an eternal optimist. Optimism is an indicator of one’s positive attitude and outlook on life. It involves remaining hopeful and resilient, despite occasional setbacks. Optimism generates energy by helping us consider options and possibilities.
For those of you with a desire to elevate your optimism, check out Things Are Looking Up®, OPTIMISM ON DECK: CARDS TO ELEVATE MINDSET & INCREASE HAPPINESS by Dr. Deepika Chopra, Optimism Doctor. They provide great suggestions to inspire optimism.
Coming full circle, reflective journaling and meditation help to cultivate optimism. Both tools help center us and provide clarity. This makes room for solution generation when life does present challenges. Our support systems and communities are also a source of perspective that can fuel optimism. This is why it is so important to stay connected to “your people.”
You’re Worth it
The things I’ve shared do require time and effort, but aren’t you worth it? Don’t the people you work with and the people you love deserve the best of you? Don’t you deserve to move through life with ease? Pick one thing. Baby steps, remember? Try it for 30 days. Let me know how it works for you. I’m also interested in learning what other things you do that help you exhale. Let’s learn from one another.