Over the years, many clients and colleagues have heard me ask: ‘What do you have control over right now?” I was reminded of the power of that question in a recent group conversation when a CEO asked that of his team, as a strategy for supporting them, through the challenges we are faced with today. We only have control over ourselves:
- Our actions and reactions
- Our own bodies and minds
- Our own level of optimism, positivity and
- Our own self-care
I have proven that to myself over the past ten days. I will remember March 25, 2020 for probably the rest of my life. I am known as an ’energizer bunny’; I love to be busy and active, involved whole heartedly in my work, my community and my family. I love my life! Many of you are built the same way…. stay busy, stay happy!
My body said ‘STOP’ in a big way! I was out for a walk with my husband after a full day of sad news from family and clients – cancer, Covid 19, huge layoffs, etc.… As we walked, I shared just how much my ‘heart’ hurt with all the news from people I cared so much about. The more I shared, the tighter my chest felt and the more difficult my breathing became. You know where this is going! I had trouble getting back to our home and in the door, where I literally collapsed on a chair struggling to get air. Fear has a whole new meaning for both my husband and me. Kudos to our University Hospital Emergency Team who were amazing!
Fast forward to today; I feel great and most days, at optimum energy. What happened? No heart attack, something our Doctor was concerned about, and no Covid19. I had a full-fledged anxiety attack for the first time in my long life! What triggered it? What have I learned?
The message was loud and clear on hindsight: self care. It was a reminder that my personal energy is not infinite without loving care and attention, without fuel. What is our fuel, what builds and/or maintains our energy? From my personal perspective, supported by much research online and other literature, our energy is a direct response to self-care, positivity and optimism. What we think about is our reality! I had allowed my work to interrupt my self-care. I started focusing on the news, listening to social media more, almost addicted to the latest numbers throughout our world. My sleep was interrupted with nightmares (normally I sleep very well) and I was waking up tired. Rather than do a workout or a walk I felt compelled to listen and care for my clients and colleagues…and a chain reaction happened. My body ran out of fuel and literally was shutting down.
My mantra has always been ’our world is just as it needs to be, and things always happen for a reason’. That has been very difficult to believe but as I continue to challenge my own thinking, there have been times this week where I wonder if ‘this is just what we need’? I continue to sit with the questions:
- If this is what our world needed, what is there for me/us to learn from this disruption?
- What is on the other side of this?
- What do we want to be doing differently in the future?
- Who do I want to be in this new world?
- What will be my new role?
- What will be my/our new reality?
As I sit with these questions and possibilities, my optimism returns, my basic belief or optimism is that the outcomes of even this disruption, will be favourable. Is it easy to hold that view? No, but it is my intention to manage my self-talk around that to protect my own energy.
Without that belief that this is the ‘best possible world’, my core optimistic belief system, my daily positivity took a direct hit. I stopped seeing possibilities or solutions, I started to be addicted to the news and media, to wallow in the negativity, and see only the dark side of this journey. All of which led to intentional self-care with more discipline than I have ever shown in my life.
Our energy is precious, and I have always taken it for granted, but not today or ever again. I need to fuel my body and my mind to be who I want to be moving forward. What has worked for me?
- Journaling: something I used to do years ago and stopped. Starting with gratitude, I am writing every day. What am I grateful for? What happened today that fueled my heart? What stole my energy? What/how am I feeling right now?
- Writing: Simply putting thoughts on paper such as this blog.
- Exercise: Back to Wii Fit as I can’t be in the gym. My granddaughter introduced me to a Dance exercise program that I absolutely love.
- Music/Dancing: We normally dance at least once or twice a week, so we have moved our dining room table off to the side so we can put on our favourite tunes and dance our hearts out.
- Community: We are very social beings so are enjoying our Zoom Calls with friends and family on a regular basis. So good for the heart and soul!
Our world is truly upside wrong today and we will learn from each other as we do this journey. I urge you to be on high alert, to do your own due diligence, to protect your personal energy, share what works and what doesn’t work. Our relationship and understanding of self, like our relationships with others, is only infinite if you care and nurture it. What is your fuel? We are all accountable for our own wellbeing; that demands understanding of self, acceptance and continuous learning to achieve the results we want in our lives.