It would be a disservice to avoid the fact that so many of us are in the midst of what appears to be profound chaos, uncertainty and fear. We are hearing daily about the state of our economic environment and unemployment. I am not just talking about what we read and hear in the news; I am talking about the personal conversations we are having with our loved ones, friends, co-workers and even the conversations we are having in our own minds. I have noticed how easy it is during these chaotic, stressful periods for people to allow their level of self-care to become severely diminished. Allowing stress to hijack your ability to care for yourself has negative ramifications for your health, which inhibits the ability to successfully manage challenging circumstances. Also, your availability to your loved ones in their time of need is stifled when you have even been unavailable to care for yourself.
With this in mind, I'd like to offer some essential self-care tips.
I have a client who recently lost her job as a legal secretary. While she was employed, she was making close to six figures with overtime. The company went through an across-the-board headcount reduction only taking salaries and employee categories into consideration. It's as if they didn't even look at people's names in considering who to layoff, and my client got one of the axes. After placing herself in the job market, Gail received a call from a recruiter who was very excited to talk to her and anxious to present her to one of his litigation clients, and told her that her salary would be comparable to what she had been making before. She met with the recruiter and invested hours taking all of the skills tests that any of us who have ever signed up with an employment agency know to be a normal ritual. In addition to a legal secretary, the firm needed support opening a new litigation office in Los Angeles, a project that would include implementing technical systems and training staff in various software packages.
While Gail was well-equipped to handle all of this, she was surprised to hear from the recruiter that the firm intended to decrease her salary by $5k because "litigation" was listed third in her experience at her last employer--even though she had primarily provided litigation assistance at her previous job. The fearful voice in her head wanted her to move forward with this interview even though she felt the offer was an insult to her value. However, the self-respecting voice in her head told her that she was worth more than they were offering and that another company would recognize this, so she declined the interview. The recruiter and Gail's sister were shocked to learn that she had turned down a job in such a grim economy, but she held steadfast to her resolve.
Right now we are in an employer's market and many will get away with undervaluing their employees in compensation packages. However, Gail has just begun her job search and had the courage to maintain her self-worth, which I agree is important. However, regardless of where she or anyone else is in their job search, no one should feel pushed into undermining their own self worth. For some a 5k pay cut is acceptable, for Gail it was a compromise she was unwilling to accept, and I commend her for her personal integrity. I encourage you to ask yourself in a situation like Gail was in what your own limits are, and to access the inner qualities necessary to maintain your self-worth.
Laugh and smile
There is actual research to support the fact that both smiling and laughing can support you in shifting your mood and maintaining a healthy attitude and it's contagious. So, do it!
Take care of the little things:
Another client of mine recently shared with me that he had been driving with an expired license for three months. He said that he would experience a pang of anxiety while driving sometimes, and wondered what might happen to him if he were to get pulled over. He found out when he drove himself right into a driver's license checkpoint and watched the police tow his car away. Additionally, what would have been a $30 transaction for him became a $500 lesson. When I asked my client what lessons he received from this, he replied, "I learned what happens when you abandon yourself." I encourage you to use this as an example of why it's important to be responsible and handle the little things, even if they present an inconvenience. Where in your life are you not taking care of little things that could turn into big issues?
I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who just had a very stressful week at his job at the Walt Disney Company, where he has been employed for 25 years. His division had just gone through a significant lay-off and my friend was experiencing a lot of fear. "What would I do if I lost my job?" he said to me, and proceeded to go on in similar fashion. Finally I stopped him. "Where are you?" I asked.
My friend looked at me, unclear what I meant. "What do you mean?" he replied.
"Well, when you ask questions like 'What would I do if I lost my job?' you are creating an experience of a future, unwanted fantasy, which takes you away from the present moment and elicits the experience of anxiety and stress. It is not self-supportive." I encouraged my friend to come into the present moment where he still has his job and all of his needs are met, thus eliciting an experience of gratitude, satisfaction, peace and equanimity and allowing him to consider his future from a place of empowerment rather than resistance and fear
I encourage you to ask yourself if the fear or stress you may be experiencing is a result of a future, unwanted fantasy or a direct result of a circumstance in which you currently find yourself. The latter is rational. The former is irrational. If your fear is irrational I encourage you to engage in the self-caring gesture of shifting your thinking to something you can be grateful for. Doing this will support you in staying present
While it can be easy to allow things like layoffs, financial distress to elicit a diminished sense of self-worth and even self-neglect, it is more critical than ever to remain conscious of engaging in very simple practices to support you in caring for yourself and moving gracefully through global chaos that can become personal challenges.
With this in mind, ask yourself this: What are some of the things that you do to care for yourself?
To learn more about Jason and A.C.T.ion Centered Transformation go to www.jmannino.com
For tips on how to manage your mind and reverse negative thought patterns e-mail Jason for his complimentary e-book: "Mind Your Mind; Manage Your Thoughts." @ firstname.lastname@example.org