This week, one of the coach directories I belong to, Get Coached, posted a poignant message:
You are not ‘working from home’. You are at home, during a crisis, trying to work.
While I’m not a fan of dramatic words like ‘crisis’, it’s hard to argue with it right now.
We all have a lot on our minds.
There’s a lot going on, a fair amount of uncertainty and numerous things we don’t have immediate control over. We don’t know what the next few months will look like. And we have a way to go.
We need to be working sustainably, and being savvy about the dynamic of what I wouldn’t loosely call subliminal stress – stress that’s running under the radar or in the background.
Subliminal is defined as “existing or functioning below the threshold of consciousness”. Now, obviously this global pandemic is not exactly outside of our consciousness! We’re all fully aware of it, of course. But when you’re absorbed in a piece of work, a meeting or bathing the kids, the wider context – of being in lockdown, having our borders closed, economic uncertainty, business uncertainty, etc. – is still there. It’s kind of hanging out in the background of our minds like a hovering cloud. And our nervous system is paying attention to it because it’s hard-wired to pay attention to stuff like that.
It’s wired to keep us safe and alert.
That means our nervous system and physical body, as well as our mental and emotional selves, are still processing and experiencing all of that even when our conscious attention is on something else. Even when we’re just trucking on like the capable, on-to-it people we are. And over time that can take its toll. Frankly, it’s bloody exhausting.
Subliminal stress can play out when we have a sick family member, live with someone with an addiction or mental health condition, have ongoing financial challenges, and so on. Some people will also have one of those dynamics at play – in the midst of a pandemic – so it’s a lot.
So, if you’re still trying to work a ‘normal’ week, be fully available to others and do your 40+ hours, please take a pause right now and think about that.
Is it sustainable?
Has there been any space this week for you, the person?
Not you the employee, manager, business owner, parent, brother, daughter… just you the person?
By my definition, working sustainably means exerting a level of effort that can continue whilst you remain well – physically, mentally and emotionally. It means an ongoing level of effort that allows you to do a good job, deliver what’s needed and look after yourself at the same time.
If you were to be truly looking after yourself right now, what would your work week look like?
Where would the lines in the sand be in terms of hours, availability, etc.?
What would you say no to?
What would you delegate?
What would you simply scratch off the list so that no one had to find time for it?
Protecting our wellbeing
You know, for some, being home all together is somewhat of a pressure-cooker situation.
Some relationships may not survive this lockdown.
Some businesses will go through tough times.
But don’t let your health take a hit just because you didn’t front-foot it and take good care of yourself.
Right now, one of the most useful things we can possibly do is protect and build our immunity. Living with balance and getting enough rest, exercise and tank-filling time is essential to this.
Let’s get fierce here about prioritising what really matters; our wellbeing.
Nothing matters more than our wellbeing. Yours. Mine. That of everyone we know.
I know from my own very protracted health journey that our health is our first wealth.
Let’s protect it and be well on all levels of self as we navigate this … well, let’s just call it a soon-to-be-historical-period, shall we?
Much love to all,