Many of the wonderful heart centered women leaders I have worked with over the last couple of years describe how they have had to learn the hard way that a very basic need for us as humans is to pause, to stop, to make time to smell the roses. We very often forget this because once we are on the the treadmill, caught up in the ever increasing business of the day that we forge ahead – just one more thing, just the next thing…… until we we find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed, and maybe approaching burnout. Then we stop, take time, sometimes seek help and hopefully heal – until next time.
So I want to offer a very special New Year gift to you. With a little intentionality and some basic evidence based steps you really can step off the cycle of stress – overwhelm – burnout- recovery. The best time to start is now. First I would like to propose a basic step of getting over what is often a negative reaction to the suggestion that any strong passionate committed woman leader needs to waste time in soft activities such as Self- care.
A foundational step in overcoming stress and anxiety is getting over any aversion to Self-care
Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need a break from the very treadmill we have put ourselves on – our endless pressure to do more, to be more, to achieve more, to stretch time to meet the demands of our endless to do lists, and the often unreasonable requests others make of us,
True Self-care is not the saccharine proposals of bubble bath and chocolate cake. Real Self-care is about the hard core skill of self regulation, as you day by day make the choices to build a life that you you don’t need to regularly escape from with the consumer/ saccharine versions of ‘Self-care’.
Real Self-care is about making many small and sometimes difficult decisions so that you can become the person you know you want to be, and to live the life you want to live. Perhaps that is a heart centered woman leader who knows that bubble bath and chocolate cake are just wonderful ways to relax and enjoy life – rather than Self-care prescriptions to plaster over our stress, anxiety. exhaustion, burnout, and vague unhappiness with how we are living our lives.
So now that I have clarified what I mean by Self -care , and why I think real Self- care rather than the saccharine consumer variety is our route away from stress, anxiety and burnout, and towards a life of balance, calm, clarity, focus and happiness, I would like to offer five intentional steps that are perfect to begin at this early stage in the year. A word of caution though –
these steps are meaningless as general ideas, but if you see something here you like and can make it concrete in your everyday life it is magic. So take some time, allow yourself to consider the possibilities, and land on even one that today you will begin to implement, even with one tiny micro step. Then put your big girl pants on, and make a plan to build this step into your daily routine. Let it be your way of bringing self regulation into your self care routine.
1) PAUSE……build some intentional doing nothing moments into your day
2) PACE………put spaces in between things
3) SPACE……..take some time apart from others or business or caring to do
something you want to do
4) RIITUAL …… decide on a ritual – something you will do everyday at a
certain time – an old ritual from the past or something new.
5) MOMENTS OF JOY … allow yourself to look for, notice and connect with
moments of joy each day.
As I often do I end with a poem – a moment of reflection this time from the wonderful Rachel Holstead.
Be gentle with yourself these days. Sometimes the currents beneath bring tangles to our hearts
and we don’t notice
and glide smoothly on
but wonder why we are tired, or angry, or fractious.
Let yourself sit gently down
with your wise grandmother,
and let yourself
be a small child again in her arms, and let whatever comes, come.
And when the small child
has done her crying,
set her gently on her feet again
and send her softly back out into the world.
Do not hurry
See how a flower grows
She is not in a hurry
She doesn’t compare herself with other flowers
She doesn’t long to change her colour
Or find another form
She doesn’t try to grow
But when the conditions are right
She will blossom
And the flower is trusting this process.
So relax … and stay in contact
With your own inner reality
Give yourself the gift of your attention. Catch the whirlwind rush
and gently, calmly, set it aside.
And sit, as only grandmothers can, calm and grounded,
wise with twinkling eyes,
amid the ups and downs
of this crazy world.
– Rachel Holstead
If you would like to fast track your journey away from burnout in 2022 why not join my powerful free masterclass on Tuesday January 27th @1.30pm Irish. Click the link below to learn more and to book your place.