We all know people who might be in a Springtime funk – physically & mentally exhausted, annoyed with friends, can’t stand to hear from family, and kids working their last good nerve. While the springtime funk is a recurring phenomenon, it’s unfortunate the amount of physical manifestations and illnesses that have emerged along with the escalating stress level. As a result, let’s talk about something you should not be doing: Ignoring Your Body.
While some of our physical ailments are just that – purely physical, I believe that others result from work-related stress and the manifestation of unresolved emotional issues. When we fail to provide for our own needs and personal care, our body has a way of getting our attention by sending out pain signals: all those aching backs, chest pains, breathing problems, migraine headaches, dizziness, digestive problems, and hair falling out by the fistful. And I understand why many of you are stressed! If you’re under-represented, you may also be facing racism and sexism at work that can result in elevated expectations and scrutiny in the workplace.
Additionally, you may be a caregiver who is also responsible for aging parents, extended family members, small children, and some grown folks that act like children. The combination of all these factors on a daily basis creates stress that needs to be relieved on a regular basis. The problem is that when we ignore our body’s messages in pursuit of productivity and meeting other people’s needs, our own symptoms can continually increase in severity. Pushing ourselves past our limits — until we are ill and require immediate medical attention — doesn’t make any of us more productive! Instead, we are forced to take blocks of time off to recover and end up being simultaneously less healthy and less productive.
This week, I want to suggest that we each acknowledge the stress we are experiencing and check in with our bodies and our spirits. Below are 3 steps you may want to follow to check in with yourself, assess your stress, and take a step toward stress reduction.
- Check In With Yourself
Start by asking yourself (without judgment): How am I feeling today, physically and emotionally? Are my needs being met? Do I have regular stress-relieving activities? What is missing in my life? What have I let fall by the wayside while I’ve been working so hard and caring for others? How can I get my needs met in an immediate way?
- Assess Your Stress
Once you are in touch with your needs, name them. Some of you may have physical aches and pains that require medical attention. So, make an appointment with your health care professional instead of reading the rest of this post. You may find that you need some basic personal care. Whether it’s a guilt-free nap in your office or a honey-butter massage, go ahead and make arrangements to do what you need to do. Some of you have emotional needs that aren’t being met, or maybe the cumulative impact of daily disrespect, devaluation, and drama has taken a toll on your sense of self-worth. It’s time to ask supportive people in your life to help you restore your internal equilibrium. Or maybe you have a generalized sense of exhaustion in which case it’s time to open up your calendar and figure out how you can get a good night’s sleep every night this week.
- Ask For Help
Many people are afraid to ask for help because they imagine it will be perceived as a sign of weakness and/or they don’t want to impose on anyone else’s precious time. In reality, we need other people’s help, and they will need ours at some point in time. Asking for assistance is expected and serves as a sign of clarity and strength. My experience is that most want you to succeed and be helpful in that process. The problem is that they may not know how to do so because they don’t know what you need at any given time. Presenting them with a problem you’re having and asking them for advice makes it easier and more effective for them to mentor you.
Alternatively, you can describe a problem and ask for specific assistance. Getting the kind of help that will pull you out of the springtime funk is as simple as: 1) being highly specific about your needs and 2) asking others for concrete forms of help that take minimal time.
Let this week bring you the physical & emotional health, the self-awareness to identify your needs, and the courage to ask for help from those in your community who are committed to your success.