Are you tired? Maybe you’re really tired. I know the feeling.
Ebbs & Flows
We all get a bit worn down now and again. Each week can be a series of good and not so good days; tiring and energising days.
Managing these ebbs and flows is part of looking after ourselves so we can keep going in the work.
Because we work with troubled children and their families, we all have the added challenge of dealing with the impact of what we do.
There are various terms used to describe this:
- Secondary traumatic stress
- Work/life imbalance
- Compassion fatigue
- Vicarious traumatisation
Whatever term we use, the effect is the same – working with trouble and challenge can become troubling for us and effect our work and family lives.
Sometimes we struggle; at other times we’re flying high – most of the time (for me anyway) we’re pressing on doing our best and feeling OK.
Working in this way means that over longer periods of time – e.g.months – we can experience periods of feeling more or less well in terms of work and life in general.
So just as within any given week we’ll feel better or worse at times, so over much longer periods we can have periods of real struggle.
This is where I’m at right now. After weeks of lockdown, adapting to new ways of working and seeing barely a soul from one week to the next, I’m shattered.
This is to be expected. It’s been a tough time. Much tougher for some than others – but challenging for everyone.
So it’s OK to be tired, to feel like a change, to not be sleeping great and maybe a little tetchy & irritable – it’s normal.
Recognising how we’re doing and responding to do something about it is really important.
So here are a few tips to help us all take a little more care of ourselves, so we can keep going in the work to help others:
3 principles for good self-care
- Deliberate – good self-care doesn’t happen by accident. We have to do it on purpose if it’s going to be a sustainable part of our practice. Think about it. Plan it. Do it.
- Determined – we have to do it without apology and make it a priority. Anything less will easily be overwhelmed by other demands. Stand your ground, say ‘no’ and look after yourself!
- Diligent – to get the long term benefits of good self-care, we have KEEP DOING IT. As Michael Hyatt says, ‘if it’s in the diary, it gets done‘ – so diarise time off and stick to it.
4 strategies to stay positive
- Capture the good stuff – make sure that you make a new email folder so you have somewhere to put anything positive that comes through. You may want to revisit this folder to boost you when you’re waning a little or losing motivation.
- Keep cards, messages, things people say to you – anything that’s positive and builds you up. I use Evernote for this . I copy cards (photo on your phone) or jot notes if someone has said something nice and/or encouraging.
- Good company. If being with troubled people can get us down; if bad company of any sort has a negative effect, then good company has the power to build us up and encourage us. Who are the people you laugh with, relax with and come away from feeling good? These are your ‘good company’ crowd.
- Laughing releases endorphins and other positive body chemistry. Basically, it feels good when we laugh. Not the polite stuff we do at the theatre or with strangers = but the real proper belly laugh we do with our friends. I play YouTube clips of my favourite comedians sometimes – it really gives me a lift!
In the end, the progress we help others to make, often depends on their relationship with us. It depends on us being ‘on our game’ or ‘firing on all cylinders.’
If we’re not looking after ourselves properly, then not only will we suffer, but the folk we’re serving will suffer too…
What do you think?…
Please let me know your thoughts. Why not leave a comment below…
Related previous posts:
– BOOK – Looking After No.1 – Self-Care for People Working With Troubled Children – also available in Kindle version
Pass it on…
© Jonny Matthew 2020