A lot of people have said to me that they have found that with working from home, they are working more than ever. Yes, they don’t have the commute so that stress is gone, but still people seem to be working harder and maybe more intensely. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Is it because we now don’t have the casual conversations we would have had by the kettle in work to break up our day?Or is it because there is now no division between our work and home spaces, and we are checking work emails at all times? Do we feel that we have to be seen to be working harder than ever?
Whatever the reason, we do need to stop and give ourselves time to process all of the busyness of our day. Sheryl Sandberg talks about ‘Leaning In’ and this is about taking opportunities, making sure that you are at the table and projecting confidence. Of course as women, we want to be seen, have the same opportunities as men and be rewarded equally. But with so much going on at the moment, I am saying that rather than leaning into our work, we need to lean back into ourselves. And when we lean back into ourselves, we are touching base and seeing what our hearts are telling us we need to do, what our bodies are telling us they need, what our souls are telling us.
We seem to be a little bit divorced from this at the moment. It’s all about ploughing through the work and to be honest, it can feel very stressful. But leaning back into ourselves is coming from a place of kindness and self-compassion, and that doesn’t always feel like a natural thing to do. We’re not really brought up to think and to be like that. Some people may not find this easy to do, especially if they are not used to doing this. We tend to be our own worst critics, can be very hard on ourselves and expect perfection.
So, one way of leaning into ourselves with compassion is to ask ourselves, if it was a friend of mine who was in this situation with all of this going on, all of this stress, what would I say to them? How would I speak to them? You would probably be saying to them something like – it would be good for you to slow down, you need to take a break, it doesn’t all have to be done today. Covid has provided this extra layer of stress on top of everything that we do, so apart from the usual things that are going on in our everyday lives, there is even more to process. And there are times where sometimes it all feels a bit much.
This week was a case in point. I had a big mound of work to do and it felt quite overwhelming, and I knew it would take many hours to get through. I leant inwards and asked myself, what do I need to do? The answer was that I needed to get out for a very long walk, and to shift my energy. This felt a bit counter-intuitive – what about all this work?? But I listened to myself and thought about my joy list (see below), and took myself off to the river nearby, spent some time by the weir listening to the sound of the water, and then just walked and walked. After this, I felt more motivated, my energy had shifted and I felt better able to cope with what was ahead of me.
So, if you find yourself feeling a bit flustered and overwhelmed, rather than pushing harder, why not be gentle with yourself, and lean into yourself and ask what do I need in this moment? You will definitely feel better for it.
Your Joy List:
People often find it very easy to come up with a list of things that they don’t like. But what about having a list of things that bring us joy? As we are all having to dig deeper inside of ourselves during this time, it is good to have a go-to list of things that we can do to lift us out of whatever we are feeling. Some of the things on my list are for a quick pick me up and others are for when I am in a deeper funk. Because you are not used to doing it, it may take you a while to come up with more than one or two things. Have a go anyway, and then add to the list as you go along. And please, no ‘worthy’ things that you ‘should’ be doing. Here are some of the top things that bring me joy:
1. Watching the birds in the garden
2. Being by the water
3. Watching This Is Us – my all-time favourite programme
4. Smelling Jo Malone’s Orange Bitters perfume
5. Watching a good rom com with my husband
6. Gardening and seeing plants come up
7. Exploring new areas
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