Tuesday, October 21, 2008

30-Day Self-Care Challenge: Roundup

So 30 days have come and gone and I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to reflect on what I learned in that month.

My overall impression is that writing about this keeps my focus on it. Like with anything else, what I focus on gets bigger: If I focus on my problems, they grow. If I focus on the solution, it grows. In this case, I'd say that self care grew.

Here's a roundup of what I learned:

You can start anytime.
This is an important reminder because, like with everything else, I didn't do self-care perfectly. There was a time when I was religiously taking five-minute breaks to stretch and turning off the TV at 10 so I could unwind before bed. But illness, stress and, well, life, got in the way. The good thing is that I've at least tried those self-care tricks and I know I can pick them up at any time.

Go on a news blackout
As a former newspaper reporter, I'm a little ashamed of this tip. I like to think I'm tougher than this, but let's be honest. I'm so not. Limiting my exposure to the financial meltdown has done wonders for my focus and emotional health.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of 2001, when I was a newspaper reporter at a small, coastal-California newspaper. Near-constant thinking and working on stories on the September 11th tragedy sent me into an emotional meltdown. A friend was getting preparing to find out whether she had cancer. I had a friend who worked in the Wall Street Journal offices near the World Trade Center. I had other friends who were still in the city. And I walked into the newsroom and was confronted with the planes slamming into the towers on a perpetual loop on the 24-hour news programs. Eventually, my editor, seeing my despair, gave me a few days off. I did a lot of yoga and I found a therapist. That's all I remember.

Today, I feel grateful that I don't work in a newsroom, that I have the power to control the information that comes to me. This doesn't mean I'm not still paying attention. But it does mean that I care for myself by gentle management of my environment.

Query and do other things to say yes to money
This lesson goes hand-in-hand with the one before it, in my mind. Once I clear my head of all the madness of the markets and my own worrywort nature, I can focus on my 1 percent. In this case, that's marketing, marketing, marketing.

When I started writing these posts, I wondered if these really had much to do with self-care. After all, marketing is part of the muscular development of your business--not the gentle hand of serenity. But the more I think about it, the more I know marketing is self-care. It's care for my business. It gives me an outlet for the anxiety I feel about the markets, news blackout or not.

Say No
Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? Just say no? Well, it turns out that I ended up saying, "Yes." I found a way to afford a trip to visit my family--without stretching myself too thin or adding complication to the holiday. But as we head into the holiday season, it's still an important lesson. We feel like we have to do things--out of desire or obligation, it doesn't matter. The truth is, we have choices. And the more we accept that and act on that, the more serene we are. Guilty, sure. But serenity and guilt can go hand in hand, don't you think?

Draw up a balance sheet
I love this lesson and have practiced it several times since I made this post last week. It's so hard to keep from having a negative focus, especially when your financial and professional future depends on you. Since no one else is going to give you perspective, you've got to take it.

What would you add to this list?

1 comment:

Elizabeth Stark said...

Heather, This is great. I got a bit behind and didn't vote on the blog entry above, so I am glad you will do marketing, too. I need that. But I also need organization, so it's all good. Meanwhile, your reminders are so on target I almost can't bear to read them sometimes. It's easier to keep bad habits and negative thinking . . . or so it seems. But I am so happy to have made the shift that reading your words allowed me. Thank you!