My biggest takeaway from my time in management was the shocking rate of illness through stress and anxiety. It really does seem to have become normalised in some spaces. Do you see it?
When our regular ways of coping seem to be needing a glass of wine/pint/cigarette/chocolate (delete as appropriate: the first and last were mine) something is wrong. Whatever it is we “need” to cope with the day, it’s numbing us from living fully. And it’s sticking a plaster over the real problem. The problem that is going nowhere, but is festering, growing and ready to hit us in the face when our body tells us it’s had enough.
The problems that show themselves in our increasing anxiety, in our insomnia, in our lack of focus, in our short temper and in our blaming of others.
This was me not too long ago. And it was awful. Not just for me, but for those closest to me who had to listen to me complain, and worry about me when I had a panic attack, and advise me when I ignored the GP’s advice to take sick leave through anxiety, for fear of judgement.
Because it is accepted in a lot of circles that hustling and giving your all is the norm. And if you take time off you’re not committed, you’re weak, you’re a liability.
It’s so not ok.
If you are living in this reality, I’m so sorry, and I truly understand. It may take some time for workplaces to adapt and change as is needed. Until then, know that you have power.
You have the power to change your after-work drink to an early night.
You have the power to change your chocolate afternoon snack to a walk.
You have the power to change hitting snooze to getting out of bed a few minutes earlier and sitting quietly with a cup of tea.
You have the power to switch your lunch with colleagues to some you time.
You have the power to learn to push back and say no to the never ending taking of your time.
You have the power to take 5 minutes before bed to think about the small positives of the day.
You have the power to start very small, and to make yourself feel a little bit better. And to push back on something small. And to feel proud.
The workplace, family members and anyone/thing else can’t take those small wins away from you.
My biggest error was not believing that tiny tweaks would make a blind bit of difference. In fact, they changed everything. We are already at our stress limit. Adding more pressure to ourselves with big lofty personal goals is adding to our overwhelm.
Making teeny tiny shifts in our daily routine nudge us in a better direction. Those nudges add up. I promise you that. The tiniest decision to put our best interests at heart sends such a strong message to ourselves that we do care.
If I could wish for one thing for you in this overwhelming time it is this:
Make one small shift. One which has your best interests at heart and gives you a glimpse of headspace.
If we all do a bit more for ourselves we will send a message out that we are not on board with the current norm.
It’s in you. Start to shift the focus inwards and find so much wisdom.
I’m always cheering for you.