Recently, I came across an old audio training from my coach on "busy-ness".
Most of the women I know live in a perpetual state of busyness, taking care of tasks and managing home, work and everything in between.
Somehow we have come to equate busy-ness with productivity. We are constantly "doing" and leave very little time for "being".
And when we do allow ourselves a bit of time to rest and relax it's not without a heaping dose of guilt as we think about all of the things we should be doing.
As I listened to the training, she mentioned the term "workcation".
She went on to define this term as the insidious tendency to avoid unplugging from work by checking email and responding to messages while out of the office on vacation.
I remembered how this used to be a common habit for me to open up the laptop or smart phone and check email in the evenings after dinner while finishing patient charts...and on the weekends...and at my son's soccer game. How else could you possibly keep up with everything that needs to get done?
And although it might be nice to take a break from email, the thought of the avalanche that would occur on returning to work made it seem like an impossibility.
At the time, it made me wonder how common this phenomenon really was. That summer, I posted a question on Facebook to see how many people check email on vacation, especially those of us who work in medicine. The vast majority of professionals reported that they check and respond to email on vacation.
This had been my habit too up until 2013. That was the year I attended my first silent meditation retreat. It required completely disconnecting from our outer focus on the external world to allow time and space to tune in to our inner world - the world of thoughts and emotions.
There was no cell phone, tablets, or TVs. No reading or writing either.
I was terrified.
For the first 24 hours I worried about how many emails were being deposited into my inbox. I noticed how much I wanted things to be different than the way they were - it's too cold, too wet, too much sitting, bland food - there was nothing to distract me from being with...well, me. I hadn't allowed myself much time to simply be with myself.
But a funny thing happened around the third day. I realized that I am sometimes busy and plugged in...even when I don't need to be...to avoid that inner world of swirling thoughts and uncomfortable feelings on a deep soul level.
The reality that my relationship was in trouble. The denial that my son's poor grades were not from a lack of effort, but rather from untreated anxiety and depression. And the acknowledgment of the sinking feeling I had that I was slowly killing myself by putting everyone's needs ahead of my own...a convenient excuse to not take care of myself.
It was a very tough, emotional weekend. And it was exactly the first step I needed to take to wake up to my life. The life that was right here now. Not the way it used to be. And not the way I wish it was. The awareness I gained during that extended weekend was invaluable. Being in a community of diverse women, in a safe environment, with a skilled facilitator allowed me to get crystal clear on what I didn't want, by really appreciating what wasn't working for me.
It takes courage to be in touch with the degree to which your inner world (your heart's desires, what matters most) is aligned with your external world (if family is most important, how much quality time do you make to spend with them?).
It can be painful to realize that work has taken over your life.
And yet there is freedom in remembering that you have a choice about how to live your life.
Now, I make it an annual practice to unplug by attending a silent meditation retreat. But, you don't have to jump in the deep end of the pool all at once. Dip your toe in the water by exploring one or more of the following practices:
So with summer fast approaching, will you give yourself permission to unplug and disconnect on vacation? What about in daily life? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Please leave a comment below and let me know if you give unplugging a thumbs up or thumbs down and whether you explored one of the suggestions above or one of your own creation.
It's hard to believe that another year is coming to a close.
Before stepping fully into the new year, it's helpful to pause to take a look back over the current year and look ahead to the coming year.
So this year, I'm starting a new ritual: taking the last 2 days of this year and the first 2 days of next year to perform a "soft reset" - a kind of master reboot to restore life balance, recharge my energy, and realign with what matters most.
Starting this morning, I am prioritizing my own self-care - listening to my body for what it needs - nourishing my mind - body - and spirit. Here is the process I've created for my new end of year ritual:
So this is my plan and yet I'm allowing for lots of flexibility, knowing that things don't always go according to plan. Be gentle with yourself and honor where you are, wherever that happens to be in the moment. What I'm hoping to gain from this process is a greater recognition and acknowledgement of my personal growth, the discovery of key insights that will serve me in now and in the future, and using the wisdom gleaned from this process to inform my actions in the coming year.
How about you? Do you have a ritual that you use to close out or start a new year? I'd love to hear about. Please share in the comments below.
10% of battery remaining
How many times have you seen this message pop up on your smart phone or tablet?
This battery alert is all too familiar for most of us who are plugged in non-stop, frustrated when our devices threaten to disconnect us from the world.
But, do you recognize the warning from your body that notifies you that your batteries are getting low?
Recently, I found that I'd misplaced one of my chargers. The result: using one charger to attempt to maintain 2 devices. I didn't allow one device to fully charge before disconnecting it from its power source but still expected it to keep on working for long periods of time.
The realization dawned on me that we often do the same thing. We don't always pay attention to how much charge we have and it's not until the alert goes off (or worse yet the device dies altogether) that we realize we need to plug in.
So, it's got me thinking about how consistently I plug into my Source to keep my battery fully charged. As I develop a system to put into place to minimize the frequency of draining my battery completely, here is what I am considering to avoid hitting zero:
And finally, the recognition that my spiritual health is the key to maintaining my physical and emotional health reminds me that I need to consistently plug into my Source (who I call God) and nurture that relationship. This is now my Priority #1.
I'd love to hear what makes your list and what you identify as your top priority for keeping your batteries charged.
Leave a comment below.
I have spent the past 2 days in Asheville, NC with an amazing group of women (and a few progressive men) learning to build heart-centered businesses.
Collectively, this group is changing the world, leading businesses based in their passion while creating a life of meaning and purpose.
And yet, a common theme emerged as we celebrated our successes and shared our challenges. We are giving so much, to so many, that we often forget to give to ourselves.
Wow! What a powerful realization.
The majority of women, myself included, are giving to and caring for others on a daily basis. Whether at home or at work and everywhere in between, we seem to be hard-wired to serve and nurture those around us.
But, what about you? Who takes care of you?
When do we take the time to give to ourselves what we so freely give to others?
We willingly come to someone else's aid but, so often we suffer alone in silence. And, because we appear to be the “strong one”, “the helper”, people don’t often think that we need help too.
We feel like a child sometimes – we’ve lost our way home and we don’t know how or who to ask for help.
There is power in community and we draw strength from each other and from ourselves.
What is required is courage. Derived from Latin, the root of the word means heart. We need to move from our heads (thinking) to our hearts (feeling) to better understand what we really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really want.
So where do you start?
Self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself during times of challenge and chaos. Set an intention to speak kindly to yourself. Send loving thoughts to yourself, even when your inner critic shows up. Love is a proven way to silence fear.
Appreciation. The body has a miraculous capacity for healing when we get out of the way. Take a moment to appreciate your body today – your vision, your mobility, your heart beat. Notice what may be calling for your attention today and honor your body by giving it what it needs.
Breathe. When stressed we tend to take shallow, quick breaths. Simply being present with the natural rhythm of your breathing and feeling the breath is enough to activate the relaxation response. Each day plan to take 5 minutes out of your day to just “breathe”.
Clarity. When we are unclear about what is important in our lives, we make decisions that are not always in our best interest. What nurtures you? What gives rise to happiness? What allows you to feel a sense of meaning and belonging? Getting clear on the answers to these questions will help you set priorities based on what you need to regularly be your best self.
So while you’re out changing the world with the wonderful work that you do, remember to take care of you.
Let each breath remind you that you are supported, you are whole, you deserve to be nurtured, and you deserve to be free of suffering.
How did you find the courage to take care of yourself today? This week?
If you found some value in this post, please share with others.
And if you'd like a little guidance on taking care of you, download the 5 PEACE strategies workbook to reduce stress and find more peace in daily life, http://www.drmichellebailey.com/5-peace-strategies.html.
Many people set goals, especially at the start of a new year. Think about the goals you set for yourself in January. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Do you remember what they were?
Unfortunately, the majority of people abandon the goals within 30 days.
Creating new habits requires an intention to do the work AND taking consistent action. Many times there is a failure to set up systems and structure that keep your goals front of mind.
Wishing and hoping that things will be different doesn’t make things happen. Change results when things are done differently. And, it takes time to develop a new habit. Some experts say anywhere from 21 days to 6 weeks.
Planning increases the likelihood of success. Investing the time up front to consider what is needed to make meaningful changes in your life will pay off, delivering the results you desire.
To increase your odds of success, set SMART-R goals:
Specific: Your goal needs to be clear, focused and concise. “I want to eat better” is a vague goal. “I will eat breakfast every day” is a specific goal. Consider the following questions to develop your goals:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Why do you want to do this?
- What do you need to support you in meeting your goal?
- How will achieving this goal make a difference in your life?
Measurable: When your goal has metrics that you can chart, you are better able to track your progress along the way.
Action-oriented: Your goal needs to be focused on the results you want to achieve.
Realistic: Make sure that your goal is within reach. Many failed attempts with accomplishing goals involves things that are beyond your control. Set a goal that is within your control, in other words, change on your part can bring about results and is not dependent on someone else changing their behavior.
Timely: decide upon a timeline for meeting your goal. If you don’t currently exercise, saying you will exercise for 20 minutes per day, 4 days a week for 4 weeks may sound more doable than promising to do this new behavior forever.
Reward: incentives are great motivators for taking action. Think about how you will reward yourself when you reach your goal. Make it something that is meaningful to you (Note: I don’t suggest you use food as a reward).
Tips for increasing success:
- Get clear. Focus on one or two goals at a time. It takes time to change habits. Taking on too much at one time can lead to overwhelm. You can add more goals as you accomplish the initial ones.
- Commit to a tracking system. Decide how you will track your progress. Tracking is a valuable activity to provide you real-time information on what’s working well and what’s getting in the way of moving you towards achieving your goal.
- Define your goal period. Set a start date and a completion date. Having a deadline tends to move people towards action compared to an open-ended goal period.
- Create gentle reminders. Keep your goals in a place where they are visible. This will remind you of what you are working on regularly. Goals that are out of sight are generally out of mind.
- Be flexible. Life happens. Be prepared to modify goals and timelines if needed depending on the situation. Give yourself permission to “re-decide” if needed.
- Find accountability. Knowing that someone will check in with you keeps you more focused. This may be a trusted friend, coach, or mentor. Determine how often you will check-in and what method you will use (i.e. phone, email).
How are you doing on the goals you set at the beginning of the year? Share your comment below and let us know what helped keep you on track or what got in the way.
Uplifting Women in Medicine