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While many of us can honestly say that we exercise regularly, do a relatively good job of eating right and floss faithfully, there’s much more than that to self-care. Our bodies reflect not only a response to activity but mirror our state of mind and life balance.

They are more than transportation vehicles. Our bodies house and reflect our creativity, passions, ethics and spirit. It is only when we persistently replenish these inner resources that we gift ourselves the strength and energy to thrive unreservedly over the long haul.

I look forward to hearing that this month’s feature story – UNCOMPROMISING Self-Care – has encouraged you to find ways – large and small – to put into place practices that reward you with greater vitality and life satisfaction.

J.

 









Quotes from Coach Joyce K. Reynolds have appeared in The New York Times; The Wall Street Journal; The Chicago Tribune; USA Today; CareerJournal.com; American Airlines Magazine; Florida Trend; Microsoft's bcentral.com; Cosmopolitan; Working Mother Magazine; Learning/Discovery Channel/tlc.com; Sun-Sentinel; Glamour; Woman's Day; Sales & Marketing Management; Smart Money; Orlando Sentinel.




 

 

We’ve all heard it. Build the field and they will come. Write it down and it will happen. And, it all starts with clearly identifying what we want and enlisting our networks in helping us get it. Here’s my list. I welcome your assistance.

Two more top-level New York City clients;
A paid Board of Directors position;
Weekly talk radio opportunities.



 


     
 

The human body is amazing. Resilient, adaptable and obedient. It does what we tell it to do even to the point of accepting abuse. In other words, if we ask our bodies to respond to unreasonable demands and deprivation, they will attempt to perform all the way to breakdown. Yet, rather than addressing the small ways in which we can take better care of ourselves – e.g. taking a little break in the day might moderate our mood to the good of all - we often choose to focus critically on how we can change or push our bodies further.

When we accept that the rewards of ultimate good health and well-being come from the inside, we can start focusing on developing self-nourishing attitudes and behaviors. Respectfully maintaining – in all aspects - our own private ecosystem. Uncompromising self-care, therefore, is about addressing body, mind and spirit. Replacing the effects of overuse and neglect with healthy, robust, fully-balanced life styles.

We can enhance our well-being and life energy in many self-caring ways. Here are just a few:

1. Do Unto Ourselves.
Dr. Christiane Northrup asks, "How would your life be different if you learned how to love and respect your body as though it were your own precious creation, as valuable as a beloved friend or child? How would you treat yourself differently?" Even as we insist that our children - and pets! - eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and participate in life-enriching activities, many of us continue to think that those same rules do not apply to us. That we are obliged by the press of business and circumstances to drive ourselves beyond reasonable limits. Most of us, in fact, take our bodies' endurance and obedience for granted. We skip meals or overeat. We pass up social and relaxation times and squeak by on little or no rest. We work relentlessly, put off medical appointments, sacrifice self-care and personal pleasures and rely on Starbuck's for energy. In short, many of us treat our cars better than we treat ourselves. It's only when we stop bullying and abusing ourselves and set a high priority on self-care that we will experience the rewards of vigorous and satisfactory lives.

2. No Excuses.
Disregarding our needs for whatever reason simply means we've put ourselves last on the list of priorities. We run ourselves down and burn the candle at both ends finding endless but seemingly valid reasons for indulging in self-neglecting behavior. "I'm too busy to go to out to lunch." "A movie? Hah, who has time?" "The kids need more attention." "I have to take care of my mother." "I just can't go out and enjoy myself when I have so much to do." "I don't really know how to relax." Clearly, there is a certain seductiveness to being needed. But, when we continuously let outside obligations displace or overshadow our self-care, the decline of health and spirit begins. In the same way the airlines used to remind us when traveling with small children to put on our oxygen masks first, we need to focus first on our health and well-being after which we can be of maximum value to others.

3. Out of the Mouths of Babes.
It appears that up and coming young people are generally not so driven to overwork. That they are less defined by what they do for a living. And, that they get as much of a sense of belonging and identity from their social networks as they do from their workplaces. And, that they clearly appreciate a life outside work. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Hilton Hotels Corporation, three-fourths of Generation Y and X workers were insistent about their need for extra vacation time. Sure, there might be a lot of eye-rolling over this one - like, yeah, right. Kids today are just lazy. On the other hand, maybe they're just onto the big picture - that there's way more to life than work. In either event, they've got the right idea.

4. Chill.
A recent ABCNEWS.com poll was titled: 'Working too hard? One in four Americans feels your pain, but the rest might have some simple advice: Chill.' The study reported that while 46 percent of respondents said "working long hours is worth it because it produces prosperity," 50 percent replied "it's not worth it because it creates stress and lack of time." Even as many of us are challenged by a business culture that attaches great importance to long working hours and discourages personal priorities, our good health and well-being hinge on finding ways to successfully integrate both. This might include: openly addressing and challenging our organizations to restore a healthy balance; professionally presenting a picture of how a long-work-hours culture leads to stress, ill-health, relationship strains and low productivity; respectfully working to change the status quo by introducing new ways of working that allow time for all things that matter to us - love, work, exercise, travel, fun and time for doing absolutely nothing. One thing it does not include is agreeing to work in a manner that is self-defeating and health-threatening.

5. Work Smart.
Margaret Brooks, vice-president of HR at Cadence Design Systems, said: "Sometimes, when we're working on a specific project, that means going the extra mile. But we (have to) respect the importance of work/life balance. Part of this is to work smarter rather than longer." Of course, working smart makes good sense. But, figuring out how to work smart is one of life's greatest challenges. Simply put, our efforts should go toward high-priority tasks, the tasks that contribute to important goals. We can emulate successful people who have learned how to successfully manage their efforts. We can pick up the habit of completing important tasks first while ignoring or letting go of petty stuff that screams for attention but leads us nowhere. We need to think differently and get more creative with our solutions. Working smart means being organized, well-prepared and resourceful. It means prioritizing, simplifying and delegating. It means being disciplined, efficient, effective and consistently turning away disruptions. In short, working smart means developing a plan that puts a high priority on quality-of-life and being disciplined to follow it.

6. Get Into the Guilt-Free Zone.
A difficult hurdle for most of us is determining what is reasonable or unreasonable to expect of ourselves. To be sure, just because a request is made does not mean we are obliged to agree to it - no matter who makes it. One way to achieve a more comfortable life is to work at establishing good boundaries and attendant guilt-free zones. This requires staying tuned to our inner selves. Noticing when we start hesitating or hedging, feeling trapped, cornered or plain hot under the collar. Understanding that any of these means someone is more than likely approaching one of our boundaries. We can either squelch our feelings or listen to them. We can stop to evaluate the demands that are being made of us. Begin to intellectually - not emotionally - decide what is appropriate. Then, clearly and consistently follow the decisions we come to. It also important for us to check our motives - knowing the difference between really wanting to do what's being asked or doing it just to please someone else. When a high priority is placed on self-care, we will soon overcome the discomfort these changes might bring and, finally, eliminate any guilt that arises from making decisions that favor our well-being.

7. This Feels So Good.
Why don't I do it more often? We've all said it countless times after we've gotten back to the gym or yoga class, taken a quick nap when we were tired, gotten a massage or left work early on occasion. Yet, we don't regularly provide ourselves with these kinds of 'feel goods.' In fact, the majority of Americans are not physically active - seven out of ten not regularly active during their leisure time - including 4 in 10 who are not active at all, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report goes on to say that we "don't have to work up a big sweat at the gym or become a long-distance runner. Just 30 minutes of walking a day, five days a week, can significantly improve your health. Quite often healing your body can be as simple as adding a few nutritional supplements to your diet. Exercise helps to increase stamina. It does not need to be grueling. Take time to enjoy the things you like doing. Eat good nutritious food." When we follow such simple advice, begin to know and listen to our bodies and make healthy lifestyle choices and changes, we all but ensure ourselves a 'feel good' state of being.

8. Eat, Drink, Rest and Be Merry.
"The body is a sacred garment. It's your first and last garment. It is what you enter life in and you depart life with and it should be treated with honor," said Martha Graham. That includes eating well. Ancient Chinese and Indian teachings reflect reverence around eating - a meal being considered a meditation unto itself, often to be enjoyed in silence to afford the body its highest digestive integrity. While this may seem an extravagance, we might want to consider the modest alternative of regularly sitting down to a proper meal. That we arrange our food attractively and take time to savor its aromas. Equally important is that we drink plenty of water. According to health expert, Judy Rotz, water is the most valuable and necessary 'nutrient' for the proper operation of the human body. That keeping our bodies well-hydrated through regular water consumption allows them to eliminate concentrated toxins that can have deleterious effects and lead to failing health. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation at least 63% of Americans get less sleep than they did five years ago because they are putting in more and more hours at work. Our brain, memory and creativity all suffer when we get inadequate rest. We cannot concentrate and become irritable making us less than ideal people to be around. All valid reasons for putting our heads to the pillow. And, for the 'be merry' part, not only did Norman Cousins prove that laughter is, indeed, the best medicine, studies show that two minutes of "belly laughter" is the equivalent of 10 minutes on a rowing machine. You choose.

9. Get a New Plan, Stan.
By now, we can tell there are lots of changes we can be making. Some of the basics we can put into place include: stop for lunch - or at least a break - everyday and do something unrelated to work. Determine what they are and work reasonable hours. Schedule breathing room in the day. Do not stack meetings and appointments on top of one another. Keep things uncluttered and calm. Focus often on stated priorities. Learn to successfully hire competent people and delegate work. Keep our on-the-job time professional, keeping personal interruptions to a minimum. Overall, know our limits and refuse to take on more than we can handle. As important as all the rest and keeping in mind the words of Cherie Carter-Scott - 'You will receive a body. You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your life on earth" - plan irrevocable personal care time for yourself.

10. Surrender.
The truth is that we really can't feel good about anything if we neglect ourselves. Surrendering to self-care provides a cure. As one smart executive put it, "I was getting terribly depressed. But I worked on immediate things I could control. I reprioritized my workload, got a great new haircut, got back to aerobics classes and started eating healthier foods. It was amazing how quickly the depression lifted when I made myself a top priority." The fact is that self-esteem is closely tied to self-care. Without it, our confidence begins to slide. Taking care of ourselves actually helps us efficiently take care of everything else. When we feel good, we can give more to our careers, our relationships, our overall responsibilities. What is required is that we give up the idea of taking care of the rest of the world at the cost of self-sacrifice. That we be dedicated to taking care of ourselves on a regular basis, saying 'no' to anything that would interrupt our wellness plans. That we make time and space for emotional warmth and pleasure, to enjoy our environment, attend to our appearance and good health and to observe precious daily rituals that offer inner well-being and peace. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded." When we do so, we will soon find that such surrender turns into life's greatest victory.



 


 
 

Untitled
Maya Angelou

When I was in my younger days,
I weighed a few pounds less,
I needn't hold my tummy in
to wear a belted dress.
But now that I am older,
I've set my body free;
There's the comfort of elastic
Where once my waist would be.

Inventor of those high-heeled shoes
My feet have not forgiven;
I have to wear a nine now,
But used to wear a seven.
And how about those pantyhose-
They're sized by weight, you see,
So how come when I put them on
The crotch is at my knee?

I need to wear these glasses
As the print's been getting smaller;
And it wasn't very long ago
I know that I was taller.
Though my hair has turned to gray
and my skin no longer fits,
On the inside, I'm the same old me,
It's the outside's changed a bit.

But, on a positive note...

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad
it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better
tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about
a person by the way he/she handles these three things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that regardless of your
relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when
they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making
a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second
chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through
life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to
be able to throw something back.
I've learned that
whenever I decide something with an open heart, I
usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch
someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly
pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot
to learn. I've learned that people will forget what
you said, people will forget what you did, but people
will never forget how you made them feel.




 


 
 

The Art of Breathing
Judith K. Morgan*

We come together - strangers for the most part - to learn
to breathe.
How absurd! We've been breathing, some of us, for 60
years.
Yet as the hours and days pass, we realize we have much
to learn about breathing.
And as we are taught these new techniques, we begin to
recognize there is more to this than mere science.
First it's Ujjayi breathing, then it's Bhastrika - a little tricky
but not too hard.
Then we're told we're going to do a Sudarshan Kriya -
nothing more than normal breaths but in a rhythmic
pattern from slow, to moderate, to fast and back to
slow again - a piece of cake - WRONG!
Our instructors skipped telling us this would go on for 30
minutes-no stopping, no sleeping!
Are you kidding? - they should have said, no passing out!!

Well, we were committed, so breathe we did - and sweat,
and ache, and tingle and go numb.
This can't happen to a body just from breathing!
But they swore on the altar to Ravi Shankar this was not
dangerous, would cause no harm.
And, indeed, we all survived the experience long enough
to reap the reward of total relaxation - to sleep, to
stop breathing, to leave our bodies, to weep, to return
to the womb, to know the eternal, to become steamed
spinach.
This WAS beyond science!

Moreover, as we contemplated, shared, gazed into brown eyes
and blue, took sustenance together, exposed our egos
and sat in quiet,
Our awareness grew, our prejudices dissolved, our hearts were
opened, our separateness began to blur;
And these who came as strangers, in the end, knew a new truth.

Behind the brown eyes and blue, alike, the color of our souls is the
same - it is the color of God - we really are One.

*Judy is the talented sister of Coach Joyce K. Reynolds




 


 
 

Question:
Our company recently had to cut staff and I lost five of my eight reports. Instead of being able to do my job as IT Director, I now have to do a lot of hands-on work that I used to delegate. I feel like I have to work 24/7 just to keep up with the day-to-day stuff with no time for management planning. I'm ticked off that my job is being wrecked and feel like I'm heading for burn out but I have a family to support and need to keep my job. Any suggestions?

Answer:

You are obviously one of many people facing the unfortunate fact that America’s already hard-driving workplace attitudes have been exacerbated by the downturn in our economy and subsequent layoffs. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 11 million workers spend 60 hours or more at work each week. And, a recent study by the New York-based Families and Work Institute found that of employees who were experiencing high levels of overwork, 43 percent said they often felt angry toward their employers. No surprise then that you’re ‘ticked off’ in finding that the work ethic concept has been converted to an overwork ethic. That you have to do what’s called defensive overworking in order to keep your job. But, as you’re discovering, working around the clock is not the answer.

While you’ve been asked to participate in protecting your company during bad economic times, there is a limit to the time and energy you can wisely commit to this effort. Your company will take whatever increasing amounts of time you give so it’s up to you to protect yourself from the burnout you fear. Begin to set new boundaries as you re-evaluate your current situation and voice your concerns to appropriate individuals. Develop a written summary of the new demands that have been placed on you and see how they affect or conflict with any prior agreed upon goals and priorities. Determine at what level you can reasonably meet the new demands without abandoning your top priorities.

Armed with this information, carefully select people you can consult for help and solutions. Be clear that you want to be fully present and effective on your job which means you have to get help in creating a healthy balance between your work with your outside life. Along with openly and honestly seeking your company’s consideration and assistance, focus on acquiring some stress management skills. Work to reduce tensions in other all other areas of your life by involving your family and friends in helping you to stay balanced and living a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, before you fault your company, keep in mind that you may have unwittingly set yourself up by unreservedly taking on the extra workload that resulted from the company’s downsizing. It’s possible that your company is just making incorrect assumptions on your part. For example, Bill Parsons, vice-president of global HR at ARM Holdings, said: "We encourage people to get to the result; we don't encourage long hours. But we do have enthusiastic engineers who might work all night — it's to do with highly skilled people who enjoy what they do." If your company is merely operating on the assumption that you’re working at 24/7 speed because you love what you do, it’s simply time to make a correction.


 

 
 
©2003 by Joyce K. Reynolds. Duplication with credits only please. Click here for easy access to all books referenced. For complimentary 20-minute Coaching session e-mail jreynolds@jkr.net or visit www.business-coach.org. Click here to send this newsletter to a colleague. Executive Business Coach on bluesuitmom.com Click here to Unsubscribe. Newsletter maintained by Web Factum, LLC.