As a professional coach, I notice there are certain times when the topics my clients want to discuss seem to be sending me a message. When I find myself coaching three or four people in a row about the same challenge, I often start seeing it as something I, too, might need to look at personally.
The latest theme has been self care. Self care can be a big challenge for those of us who are natural nurturers, because one of the ways we fill our energy tank is by giving to others. The problem is that when our tank runs low, we often tough it out and keep grinding away—even when we become completely ineffective.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve coached a number of people on this very challenge. One of my clients, for example, has a huge project underway. She and her staff are working long hours to make sure that more than 150 people are successfully moved from one site to another. She’s putting in 16-hour days and often forgets to eat. Another client has transitioned into a new role. His replacement is young, inexperienced, and overwhelmed, so my client is essentially doing both jobs with no light at the end of the tunnel. And then there’s me. The coach. The person who should know better—and the person who has apparently forgotten the adage all travelers know: always put on your own oxygen mask before assisting someone else.
The truth is that we all get caught up in situations where we put ourselves at the bottom of the list. I love to coach clients on better self care and see them come back refreshed, with their energy tank filled up. It’s much harder to do that for myself. But wait—I’m a coach! I can do this!
Here are four suggestions I’ve found useful for both my clients and myself:
- Ask someone to simply listen—not solve, not correct, not observe, just listen.
- Take mini-breaks: 1 minute to breathe deeply; 2 minutes to pet the dog; 3 minutes to listen to your favorite piece of music; or—think big here—10 minutes to take a brief walk.
- Eat well. Grab a to-go salad rather than a burger and fries. Drink green tea instead of a soda. Snack on a handful of almonds instead of a candy bar. Fuel your body with something good at least once a day.
- Learn to say no. No to extra work, no to babysitting your niece and nephew, no to a night out with friends if you are exhausted. Learn to say no to anything that makes you feel as if your to-do list has once again become insurmountable.
And the most important tip of all: keep at it! Self care isn’t something you do once in a while. We make choices every day that can either promote or hinder our well being.
What will you do today to take care of yourself?
About the Author
Patricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.