In the month of love I want you to focus on someone who really needs the gift of your time and attention. YOU!
We tend to expend so much energy and resources on other people which is 'nice' but it leaves some of us pretty burnt out and overwhelmed. I love the saying "don't set yourself on fire to keep other people warm" and this is such a true sentiment for assistants (especially those who have additional care giving roles in their lives such as parents, caring for other family members etc.)
Loving and caring for yourself is not vain, self-indulgent or arrogant, it is important for your mental health. It is a critical survival strategy. There is a reason you need to put your oxygen mask on first if there is a loss of air pressure on a flight. If you are incapacitated you cannot help anyone else.
The most important things we need to apply when it comes to self-care is being able to say no, set boundaries effectively and push back when we need to, with confidence. We are often bullied into taking on more tasks, extending beyond our limits because we feel that we need to be "nice and helpful" and if we don't say yes we will be seen as lazy. Thing is, people (especially the users and master manipulators of the world) know how to read you and use these ideas against you.
I want you to be a little more selfish. Self-preserve. Always have a little bit in reserve for times of crisis. If you are already running at 110% what happens when there is a real emergency?
So how can you enhance yourself love, self-care and self-respect? Here are 10 things to try!
1. Manage your inner dialogue - speak well of yourself and to yourself. Replace negative thoughts with at least three positive ones immediately. If done consistently, this way of thinking and talking to yourself will change. It is a habit that must be broken over time.
2. Rest - you charge your phone, you need to charge yourself. You are not a machine. You will have peak performance times and non-peak times. Resting is not lazy or unproductive. It fuels you. Learn to nap. Take time out to simply sit in the sunshine. TAKE YOUR VACATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3. Have fun - take time out to do something you enjoy and that makes you feel alive. Being creative in another field e.g. painting or knitting can often lead to new ideas about work matters. Try it, you will be pleasantly surprised. This also greatly reduces mental fatigue and stress. Winston Churchill painted during WW2 for this exact reason and said that this was one of the things that helped him to stay focused, resilient and in control.
4. Connect with people in a meaningful way. A study about happiness found that people are happier (and live longer) if they spend time with people they like than acquiring material things. Have lunch with a friend; take your kid on a 'date'. Listen and also share your thoughts and feelings. Often by externalising a problem verbally we solve it, even if the other person doesn't give us any input. The mere act of talking can be therapeutic BUT make sure that you also listen to the other person and help them in this way. This is not a blank cheque to moan!!!! You need to rise above the drama and be solution focused. Playing the victim doesn't solve your problem or make you a nice person to spend time with.
5. Declutter - your space, your to-do list, your contact list, your social media and your commitments. Clutter drains our energy. Items that are unused gathering dust? Sell them second hand, donate them to charity. Stuff that has been on your to-do list forever, GET THEM DONE. Clean up your social connections. Spend time and energy on people who lift you up. Put some distance between yourself and the people who are not adding value or love to your life. Life is short. Spend time on the stuff that matters to you and your family. Stop moving forward other people's agendas at the expense of your own success and well-being. Be careful of those people who only call you when they need a favour.
6. Drop the guilt - this seems to be a very female problem and I think we were taught guilt so that we would be more compliant. Example. Your friend calls you up; you just got home after a tough day. You don't really feel like talking but instead of sending her a message and saying that you are not up to a phone call, you take the call out of guilt. Small example, but stuff like this happens daily. We need to unlearn this behaviour. Acknowledge the feeling, try to understand why you feel that way and release it!
7. Start to appreciate your body for what it can do, not how it looks and your perceived flaws. We ALL have something we don't like about our bodies. But actually they are magical! If yours is in good working order you have so much to be grateful for. Feed it well and enjoy using it. Don't see exercise as punishment and drop the diet for a better lifestyle!
8. Stop comparing, your life is different and so is your current journey. There will always be someone more successful, prettier, smarter (whatever...you get my point) but you don't see the sacrifices or heartaches that person has from the outside. Nobody's life is perfect and your comparison if often very one sided with limited information. Just focus on your grass and water it! Level up and realise you are your only competition! Be better than yesterday
9. Be focused on what you want, visualise and work hard. Set goals. Get after it! We all know what we should be doing and where we are currently wasting time or procrastinating. We don't 'have' time we need to MAKE time for the stuff that matters and ultimately moves us forward. Discipline is HARD but the results will be worth it.
10. Stop being a victim in your own story, you deserve so much better. Be the hero instead. You control your life. Hate your job; start preparing and looking for the next one! In a bad relationship? Have the difficult discussions, do the work or move on but don't just wallow and say that this is how things are and I can't change it, because that is simply not true! Change the things you can and work on how you perceive what cannot be changed.
Then lastly, LOVE YOURSELF, I DARE YOU...