Strategic self care for September (and the rest of the year!)

This post is contributed by Laura Mack.

Every year, when the calendar all too quickly flips to September, there is an overall quickening that comes with it. The lazy days of summer (hope you had a memorable, relaxing and rejuvenating one) are over, transitioning us into that ‘back to school’ mentality and energy.

If you’re a coach or facilitator, you’re likely launching new programs or engaging in new contracts. If you’re a parent, the school season is starting and along with it the sports and other extra-curricular activities that fill the fall calendar. Or perhaps you are engaging in professional or personal development and signing up for courses or programs yourself.

As things get busier, I want to remind you to schedule your self care with as much rigor as you schedule all your business obligations and commitments. I know you know this, but we tend to forget. That’s natural. As life gets busy, we often get more stressed, and slip into that ‘fight or flight’ mode. And DO-ing takes priority over BE-ing.

Having experienced burnout and wanting to avoid ever going through that again, I’ve realized I need to strategize my self care, assessing and re-assessing what I need to stay in balance with my value of wellness. I then schedule what I need to maintain my health with a commitment as firm as I would give a valued client.

If you’d like to start with an in-depth self assessment on your overall self care, Dr. Barbara Markway has offered a great self-assessment survey and helpful resources here.

Dr. Markway affirms what I have learned about self care, that it is a body, mind, spirit practice.

When I’m doing my Strategic September Self Care Tune Up, I review these questions:

Body

  1. Am I up to date on all my physical check-ups? Breast care (mammogram or self examination), dental check-up, blood tests, overall physical, pap test?
  2. How do I feel about my frequency and level of exercise?
  3. Am I sleeping 8 hours a night?

Mind

  1. How is my ability to focus? Am I completing tasks or am I flitting from one thing to another, something we call ‘task-switching’?
  2. Am I engaged in a mindfulness practice, journaling daily?
  3. Is my Inner Critic getting loud?

Spirit

  1. Am I meditating daily? (for me, my mindfulness practice and meditation have subtle differences and I use different online tools to support each – see below for some of my favourites)
  2. Am I practicing my attitude of gratitude daily?
  3. Am I regularly getting into nature, walks in the woods, sitting by rushing streams?

In our practices of Authenticity, we always remind ourselves, and our clients that Awareness comes first. With awareness I can then move to Choice, deciding where I need to put more focus to ensure that this busy autumn season is one of exciting engagement and healthy balance.

Perhaps my body requires more regular yoga, I need to increase my commitment to my Mindfulness practice and ensure that my spirit receives regular ‘forest baths’.

In my iCal on my MacBook Pro I have set up a calendar category specifically for Health and Wellness. And I ensure that I’m entering the activities I know I need to engage in to ensure my overall well being. I encourage you to try being strategic about your self care, assess, schedule and commit to your well being. And remember that our community is here to support your success!

Resources:
https://www.headspace.com – an easy way for me to keep on track with my mindfulness practice
http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/ – I attended Dr. Kristen Neff’s Self Compassion retreat last year and continue to use her free online meditations
http://www.shinrin-yoku.org – the practice of forest bathing. Let me know if you are interested in learning more – a dear friend is launching a Vancouver business.

Laura Mack is a Certified ALC Facilitator & ALC Facilitator Trainer at Authentic Leadership Global, Inc. She also facilitates strategic planning and learning opportunities in the corporate and social profit sector. Laura also volunteers as a facilitator in the restorative justice community. And she’s a student at Simon Fraser University, working on her Executive Masters of Business Administration. She lives on a boat with her husband Andrew and their amusing Schipperke.