Most of us live in a world where work doesn’t end when we leave the office. Technology has made it so that we can receive work emails all of the time and we feel the nagging pull to respond. We dread waking up and looking at our phone the next morning to see what urgent projects our bosses have come up with during the middle of the night when we were sound asleep (or tossing and turning!) Or maybe YOU are that boss that is solving the company’s problems at 2:00 AM.
Whatever and however it is occurs – it’s happening to most of us and it is affecting our relationships, sleep habits, happiness and health. I work with clients who tell me it has become so problematic they are losing sleep, having health problems and relationship issues. And for some – they tell me they feel they are spiraling out of control, feel stuck where they are and feel powerless to do anything about it.
Does this sound like you? You are not alone. Having worked in the behavioral field for close to 25 years, I have seen this all too often. In clients, staff, co-workers and myself. Even as someone who created and implemented workplace wellness programs for my staff and other companies, I would somehow exempt myself from my own self-care. The exact thing I was empowering others to do!
In my book I co-authored with Jack Canfield (and other amazing authors!) I write about work-life balance and radical self-care. The title of the book is The Recipe for Success and in it, I write about my own lack of self-care when I was a CEO for a large non-profit organization, and how for years the company, employees, board of directors and clients came first. I would say to myself “You HAVE to do more!”. And I did. But that came at the cost of eating poorly, poor quality of sleep, unhealthy relationships – and any sort of ME time. When I did have down time, I would be in bed. Sleeping (or trying too), zoning out on the TV or playing a game on my phone. Any sort of distraction from the thoughts in my head.
Self-care and creating personal development goals are so important to making sure we live a balanced, healthy and fulfilled life. It requires a commitment to yourself – to taking care of yourself and valuing yourself enough. I work with many clients who are so burned out from their jobs, everything else is suffering. They have little time and energy left to be present for the things they love – their families, friends, hobbies – anything that brings them true enjoyment and fulfillment.
Working with my own life coach who helped me develop a daily self-care plan (and helped keep me accountable!) here are some steps I took to increase my own self-care – which in turn dramatically changed my life for the better. They are simple and don't require a lot of time. Try one or all and see what works for you.
1. I began to realize the difference between self-care and pampering.
Don’t get me wrong - a spa day is fantastic! But self-care had to become a daily activity. Not a thing I did for a few hours on the weekend. I wrote down a list of the things I considered a treat (mani/pedi, facial, vacations) and things I could do on a daily basis to help cultivate my own self-care.
Those were things like: phone off while ate my meals; listen to my favorite music while getting ready in the morning; meditation (I’ve had an on again-off again relationship with meditation since I was 15 years old!), exercise – that meant things I liked doing…yoga, walking around the park, hiking; reading a favorite book; spending time in person or on the phone with my closest friends. I didn’t do everyone of these things everyday – but I did a couple of them and they made a huge difference. Once I wrote down what my personal development goals were, it was much easier to hold space for them.
2. I created a morning ritual.
I found this to be key to how my day would go. It allowed me to start out my day with a clear and focused mind. I began to allow time for meditation, eating breakfast in peace (no phone, news or social media), writing down some goals and intentions for the day. And diffusing one of my favorite oils! The only thing I had to change for this was to set my alarm 15 minutes earlier.
I have had some clients say to me that morning is the most chaotic time in their household. Kids, lunches, homework, etc… However, after trying this simple technique for just a few days, not only did they notice a difference in themselves, they said the whole house became quieter in the morning! Not totally quiet and not every morning, but they also said they felt good about setting a positive example for their kids.
3. Increased my chances for better sleep.
Here is what I know about me and sleep…. If I don’t get good sleep EVERYTHING else suffers. I wake up grumpy and don’t do my morning ritual which would help set the tone for the day (see # 2 above). I stopped watching the murder shows which showed violence and created anxiety in me. I didn’t realize how true this was until I stopped watching these shows! I got off of social media about an hour before bedtime. I made sure that I wasn’t drinking caffeine late in the afternoon. I am a very light sleeper, so I make sure my room is dark (eye covers even!) and I turn on a fan for the white noise. This has been key for getting a good nights sleep! (and now in my late 40’s – temperature at night is EVERYTHING.)
4. Re-discovered something I loved.
One of the things I used to do all the time as a kid was read. This was one of the first things I let go of. I would read plenty of emails and online articles, but I stopped reading for the pure enjoyment of reading. Today, I try to read at least a couple of pages (sometimes that’s all the time I get!). One of my favorite times is while I am eating lunch. I try to have no other distractions – and sit for several minutes enjoying my food and a good book. Helps to me re-center during the day, it alleviated some stress and just generally I felt better.
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Nikki Buckstead owns Transformative Coaching & Consulting Services, is a Certified Life Coach, Meditation Teacher, Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Teacher. She is also certified in Workplace Wellness Programs. With over 20+ years of experience working in the behavioral health field she is a wellness advocate, focusing on self-care and personal development with her clients. She is also the President of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce of Huntington Beach. She works with clients both in-person and online and holds regular classes and workshops. She is a speaker and author. For more information on Nikki Buckstead, please visit www.nikkibuckstead.com