Several people responded to my “Myth” blog of February 4th–with great ideas. Lynne wrote that separating out work and life “says to some that work is separate from ‘life’ and is just something to ‘get through’ before they can start enjoying life!” An excellent point: Given how much time we spend working, it behooves us to find a way to be engaged. Wendy mentioned that childcare (high quality childcare, that is) is crucial for parents who want to find the time for self care. Again, a really good point — it’s hard to focus on one’s self while caring for others. And Rene noted that men take care of kids, too. I stand corrected on that one — I still tend to think of women as pulling the double shift.
Rene, a sales manager who works from home, brought up two other points on which I’m inspired to expand. First, Rene’s son “has had challenges,” which is the primary reason Rene has a home-based business. This is an important part of the whole self care concept. For most of us, life doesn’t just consist of work and “life” (or the day-to-day personal stuff). It also entails either short-term or long-term hardships that are really hard to handle. Mental and physical illness among family members (or ourselves), the death of loved ones, financial difficulties, behavioral stuff with children, professional setbacks — it all happens and when it does, the stressor load can double or triple. Such stressors deserve respect and demand healthy ways of coping (i.e. self care practices).
Second, Rene writes, “my life is twisted around work, family and community each day. What works for me is noticing when I am out of balance and doing something about it.” Being aware of one’s feelings is cornerstone of emotional intelligence (that’s the EQ in this blog’s name, by the way) — because it allows us to figure out how to regulate our behavior and find activities/thoughts that will restore us to balance. Developing awareness of our feelings isn’t an easy task — it can take therapy, contemplative practices (like meditation or yoga), and hanging out with other people who understand and can express their emotions. I’ll write a lot more about this in the coming months, but suffice to say for now that emotional awareness helps us not only in our professional lives, but in our relationships with our friends, family, community members, and deepest selves.