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I Often Take Care of Others Better Than I Take Care of Myself. Do You?

By January 20, 2016Coaching, Nonprofits

I’m proud of how many people and nonprofit organizations I have the honor to work with each year.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a “helper.” I’m the oldest of four children and was the best babysitter in my neighborhood for years. Families would call me in July to book me for New Year’s Eve. True!

I get an amazing feeling of gratitude inside when I help others. And I crave that feeling.

What I found though, over the years, is that I put myself last on the “taking care of” list.

As frequent readers of this blog know, I was very sick about four years ago. My cancer health scare SHOULD have knocked me upside the head to include myself in the caring category. But alas, it did not.

Immediately following my surgeries and throughout the next couple of years I kept a pretty steady pace of doing, traveling, and rushing through my day. I overextended myself even more by volunteering my time and providing pro-bono coaching hours, often.
And then in January 2015, my spouse Mark, fell and broke his back. HIS health scare totally rocked my world. And while it took months to get into a less frenetic pace, (there are a lot of steps to caring for someone who is healing a broken back!) I believe and feel at peace with how much better I’m taking care of me these days.

What I learned the hard way when Mark was needing care was, if I was not adequately fed, rested, and healthy, I was no good to him OR me.

So today nearly one year to the day after the back-breaking event, I’m sharing some of the self-care things I have been doing that are making a huge difference.

I’d love to hear what’s you are doing to care for yourself.

7 Simple NO COST Care For Myself Daily Actions

1. Use my calendar (Gmail Calendar) to plan my day/week/month so that I can see there is time to work on projects AND even deal with the unexpected. I’m getting better and better at scheduling “unscheduled” time so I don’t feel rushed.

2. Work Standing OR Sitting.
I can get so focused on the task at hand that 2 or 3 hours can go by without moving from my chair. I created the option, with books and some wood, to move my workspace up or down to allow for sitting or standing. I can’t believe the huge difference this makes in my overall attitude.

And, yes, I do know I could purchase something to make this faster and even easier. And maybe I will. But for now, I like my homegrown way of taking 2 minutes to move my desk up or down.

3. Schedule a lunch break and actually take it. I used to work right through lunch – a practice I found was making me hangry (hungry + angry) and really tired by mid-afternoon. Not to mention I wasn’t fun to be around. The resentment of being bothered by getting interrupted is so much less now that I plan for and TAKE my snack or a meal break.

4. Identify a small group of like-minded, positive-thinking colleagues to stay connected to virtually and in person. I have two specific groups I connect with, one online and one via phone or in person. Both groups provide support, advice and authentic conversation to keep me grounded AND allow me a place to vent when I need it.

5. Walk. Get outside. I love my work and at times have sat at my desk working on the phone or computer for 6, 8, 10 hours on end. I KNOW breaks are smart. But if I don’t have some unscheduled time in my day, I forget to MOVE.

I am best when I’ve had a break and gotten moving. . . especially if it’s outdoors. I’ve joined a Facebook group focused on walking and love hearing the reminder from others posts about using walking to inject solitude or planning time into their day.

6. Ask myself “What do I WANT to do right now that provides service to others or to ME?” Being self-employed, this may be easier to do than if I worked in an office with others. But I highly recommend it. I find that consciously asking this question has brought me joy just about every day. It’s also allowed me to do a much better job of identifying which projects, clients, and people are a good fit for my skills rather than saying yes to everyone and feeling scattered and ineffective.

7. Laugh out loud. This was a rule I established during my cancer year. I find a reason to laugh out loud every day. It’s amazing what a few minutes of laughter can do to shift a stalled idea or just make me feel better. I often enlist others in helping me with this and that makes it even more fun. Here’s a great 1 minute laugh break you can take any time with my friend and colleague, Robin Getman.


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