In our increasingly inter-connected world, it can seem like we are on call 24 hours a-day. While many companies say they have a wellbeing manifesto, they often expect everyone to step up to make sure deadlines are reached, and to do what is best for the company. Even outside the office, we have personal commitments taking up our time. We want to please everybody and take care of our own needs but end up exhausted and not able to give our best to anyone, including ourselves.
What do they say to all the passengers on the airplane in an emergency? “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others” This is the approach to take for your life and here’s how we can do it:
1.Respect your time:
One of the biggest reasons that people abuse your time and think it’s ok to do so, is because you let them. And, you are the only one that can dictate how you expect to be treated. You have three options. Accept it, Change it, or Leave it.
Consider how often people come to you with something ‘urgent’ that has to be addressed right away. First of all, just because they have left it to the last minute, shouldn’t mean that you have to drop everything. And, secondly, how often have
you stopped everything you are doing and shifted your attention, only to find out that the problem wasn’t critical at all. The truth is that the more you indulge these people, the more they will do it.
Now, obviously this doesn’t mean that you should never help anyone – we all need to support each other, but start to get really clear about your boundaries and when you are able to help. For example, turn-on your ‘out-of-office’ message when you leave
the office, and resist the urge to reply to anyone until you are back at work. Once you have become clear on these boundaries, you can then guide other people as to how to respect them.
You will be amazed how much extra time this will free up for you to focus on things that are more important, rather than running around all day putting out other people’s fires.
2. Make space for much needed down-time:
When we go from being crazy busy to suddenly having lots more free-time, our instant response can be to find lots of other things to do. But, the most critical thing to do is…nothing. It may have been a long time since you gave yourself the chance to just be… with no responsibilities, no external stressors, no time constraints and no expectations. These moments of quiet can help you find the solutions to the most complex problems. Make sure that you book time to ‘just be’ into your schedule each week.
3. Wherever you are, be all there
Possibly the greatest benefit of self-care is your increased ability to focus. When you can still you mind and gain clarity on what is most important to you, you develop an increased sense of wellbeing because you are living a life aligned with your values. Whether you are in a business meeting, having coffee with a friend, or attending a family party, you are going to fully ‘show-up’, with no distractions. How amazing is that for everyone around you. They will get the best of you… not the rest of you!
What’s the next step? It’s time to start listening to yourself again. Intrinsically as humans, we know what feels right and this is the compass that will guide us to a life that we love. Say no to anything that doesn’t resonate and yes to more of what inspires you. By doing less, you have the possibility to achieve much more.
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