Monday, July 6, 2020

July 2020: The Self-Care Edition

I felt some sort of tectonic shift on July 1. I spent time reflecting on how we had just finished the first half of 2020 and what an incredibly difficult and weird time that had been. I wanted to hit restart and move in a different direction. So the conversation I'm having on repeat these days is about how I'm learning to shift from a sprint to a marathon mentality. In other words, when quarantine kicked in near the end of March (WOW, that feels forever ago!) I hunkered down and just pushed hard through sheer adrenaline. This was a new experience, and we all figured it would last just a few weeks, right?

But here we are some four months later, and we ALL need a new plan. I've had experience getting through crises ~ after all, given where I live in California, I've had to evacuate three times since 1990 due to wildfires and I've survived multiple earthquakes. I've also navigated through the suicides and terminal illnesses of those close to me. But this is different. As I've said to several clients, it feels like a slow-motion car crash that never ends. And we all cannot just keep hunkering down. We need to pace ourselves -- this looks like it might last awhile.

So I've been focusing on 5 key questions with clients:

  1. Are you sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours per night?
  2. Are you getting exercise at least 4 days a week (PS are you getting outside?!)
  3. Are you eating intentionally and in healthy ways?
  4. Are you seeking consistent social support? (which is no joke under current conditions)
  5. Are you pursuing some sort of spiritual practice? It could be meditation, prayer, yoga, circular breathing, journaling...

If you're like me, you've read enough about how to work from home. Now it's time to dig deeper and get more creative about how to not just survive this year, but find new ways to live. Here are some resources I've been passing along to others.

Boundaries. As the various parts of our lives now seem to live in the same place, it is becoming all the more important to learn how to set some healthy boundaries. One of the very best resources over the years has been the simply-titled book Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. But if you are looking for some short and sweet articles on how to start living out boundaries in practical ways, go to the link at the start of this paragraph. The authors have a great little blog with a bunch of solid articles there.

Managers, Encourage Your Team to Take Time Off. Sure, this article is addressed to managers, and if you are one, take it to heart! But you also may need to advocate for yourself. My friend just took a 4-day, socially-distanced camping trip to get her head and heart cleared after a really difficult few months. Most likely, many of us are mourning the loss of cherished vacation plans this summer. Nevertheless, it is not healthy for us to forgo a break entirely. Employers are finding that workers are actually surprisingly productive as they work from home, but this also means they are not taking some much-needed breaks to unplug and recharge because it feels so complicated.

This article has some valuable ideas for how to be creative in stepping away. I like this quote:
When working from home, encourage your employees to consider “vacations” as tools for focused family time, caregiving, and self-care. Down time is likely to be devoted to supporting good mental health rather than recreation or travel.

The Agile Family Meeting. If you only have time for one article as you scroll through this post, make it this one. It is REAL and PRACTICAL, and touches on something I haven't read many other places. Rather than focus on the very valid difficulties of no school, few childcare options, and parents juggling work and family this summer, this article gives us a truly effective plan. Do not pass this up.

Final Quote
“Real leaders” [are] people who “help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.” 
David Foster Wallace
Thanks for reading. Send me questions or feedback to May your second half of 2020 be... better :) 

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