Are You Your Last Priority?

If you are a hardworking, career-minded professional, you may be very good at taking care of others, and not so good at taking care of yourself. In this podcast, Kathi and Katherine address what it looks like if you are the last priority at your job and in your life, and how to take steps to change that.

Dealing with Uncertainty at Work

The world is changing at a rapid pace. The pandemic shook up the way we do business, our work routines, and how we think about our lives. Add war, inflation, political unrest, and climate change, and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty. In this episode of My Crazy Office, Kathi and Katherine offer concrete ways to manage uncertainty on the job and in general.

#18: Maintaining Healthy Work Habits – My Crazy Office, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about maintaining healthy habits on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to an employee who fears that a return to the office will hurt their new healthy work habits.

Then we discuss how a manager can balance staff boundaries with their work productivity.

The Next Transition – Back to the Office

As some of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to lift, and some people cautiously begin to return to their work environments, we are tasked with the job of managing yet another period of transition. It is the transition from the safety and predictability of our quarantined home environments to the uncertainty and potential risks of the outside world. It’s the transition from the daily routines and practices that we have established while sheltering in place, to the new routines and practices that involve people and things outside of the home.

Even if you are still working from home, you are probably in transition. You and members of your family may now be interacting more with the world at large by venturing out to see friends, visit stores, go to restaurants, travel short distances, or participate in outdoor events. 

Transitions can be tricky. They can bring up a range of feelings – from fear and anxiety to impatience and irritability.  Transitions heighten our emotional reactions; they put us a little more on edge.

If, for example, you are returning to your office after several months away, just the thought of returning to your former work setting may set off both excitement and anxiety. If you see that one of your coworkers is less cautious than you are regarding social distancing, you may feel a flash of anger or fear. As you head to the office, you may experience a sense of dread – even though you know that your company is putting all of the necessary safety precautions in place. 

Are you in transition? Are aspects of your home life and work life changing? If so, here are a few suggestions for how to manage emotional ups and downs that may come with change: 

  • Appreciate that change, even positive change, is disruptive.

As difficult as the past few months have been, you managed to carve out a routine and to establish new patterns of living. Now, you have to change the mix of activities again. It may be great to expand your world, but stressful at the same time.

  • Do things to help yourself calm down and cool off.

Releasing pent up energy through exercise, walking, dancing, working out, biking, etc., remains one of the best self-care things you can do, but it’s especially valuable during times of transition. If you have an exercise routine, stick to it. If not, consider developing some kind of physical outlet to calm your nerves and lower your emotional temperature.

  • Decide which healthy routines you want to keep in place.

You may have developed some good habits over the past few months. Better eating, more family time, shorter workdays, time for hobbies. As you transition out of sheltering in place, retain the routines that you value. It will help you feel a greater sense of comfort and control.

  • Get extra rest.

As you consider re-entering your former work environment, your mind will be working double time preparing for and planning your next steps. Your body and brain will benefit if you commit to getting plenty of sleep (if possible), and finding time to unwind at the end of the day. 

Managing transitions during normal times can be challenging. During these unpredictable times, changing your working and living patterns may be both welcome and stressful. Give yourself credit for being in transition, and take care of your mind and body as you move forward.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Living in the Waiting Room

I don’t know about you, but I hate to wait. When faced with a long line at a store, a movie, a food bar or even a gas station, I’m the person who opts out, returning at another time when I won’t have to wait. In fact, until March of this year, waiting for anything seemed like an immense waste of time to me.

That was before the pandemic hit. Before we were all told to shelter in place. Before we understood the importance of social distancing. And before we were asked to wait in line at stores, at banks, at any place where people congregate to conduct their essential business.

Now, waiting is a form of caring, of preventing, of dealing with a situation we don’t yet have under control. We’re waiting for signs that it’s safe for the economy to slowly re-open. We’re waiting to see how schools will operate. We’re waiting to discover when and how sports teams, service businesses, and the entire entertainment industry will re-emerge.

It’s hard to be waiting in so many ways for so many things. The human brain is a planning brain and we desperately want to know what comes next. That unquenchable thirst for answers can mutate into uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, frustration, impatience, agitation, restlessness and even depression.

Today, we are all Living in the Waiting Room. We won’t have to be here forever, but it will be a while before we can re-launch our lives in any significant way. What follows are some thoughts about making the Waiting Room more tolerable:

Bring many forms of entertainment to the Waiting Room– good books, fun movies, knitting projects, crossword puzzles, word games, musical instruments, dance routines, sketch pads, new recipes – anything that takes your attention away from fretting, worrying or obsessing and allows your mind to be creative.

Take physical breaks from sitting in the Waiting Room – Go outside, take a run, go for a hike, yawn, stretch, shake your head and arms, walk around, pound a pillow. Physical movement helps move emotions through your body. Feelings of impatience, frustration and agitation can be reduced by increasing blood flow.

Connect with other people in the Waiting Room – We’ve heard over and over that we are in this together. Nothing confirms that more than striking up conversations with others who are waiting. Even if the novelty of video conferencing has worn off, it’s still essential to reach out to the people you care about and make contact. Human connection lessens anxiety and makes us feel less adrift.

Try not to obsess about when you’re getting out of the Waiting Room – This is a hard request. You know that person in the waiting room who paces back and forth, looks at the time, stares at their phone, insists on being the first to be informed? Don’t be that person. Understand the limits of endless news briefings, medical predictions, scare tactics, and conspiracy theories. None of those items are going to get us out of here faster. And everyone is working on getting things moving again.

One other thing about the Waiting Room – each person, each family has their own set of concerns, their own set of pressures that they are juggling.  Appreciating that we are all dealing with different conditions is part of living in the Waiting Room. You don’t have to feel guilty if your conditions are less difficult than others, but you can be respectful and appreciate the wide range of challenges that each person in the Waiting Room is managing.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Being Kind to Your Emotionally Exhausted Self

So here we are. For many people this is week six (or more) of sheltering in place.

It’s also week six of home schooling, endless meal preparation, social isolation, working remotely, and celebrating almost every occasion we can think of virtually – on Zoom, Google Chat, FaceTime, Skype and whatever other device or platform appeals to you.

For some, the past six weeks have included sudden, tragic losses of family members or friends. For others, the losses have involved employment, income, daily routines, human contact, favorite past-times or any sense of normalcy. It’s been rough.

As a collective population, we are tired. We keep trying to figure out where we are headed, and when we will be able to return to some form of our pre-Corona lives. In the meantime, we have to manage the feelings of loss, frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety that are “normal” during a pandemic of these proportions.

While we wait for the next phase of this very strange time, I encourage everyone to find just a few simple ways to be kind to your emotionally exhausted self.  

Here’s what being kind to your emotionally exhausted self could look like:

You stop for a minute every day, and give yourself credit for all you are doing to keep your life (and that of your family and friends) intact.

You take time to cool your system down by going on an extra walk, taking a full lunch break, or enjoying a longer-than-normal shower.

You protect yourself from overworking by instating email curfews — no reading or responding to emails after 10 pm. No opening emails in the morning until you’re out of bed.

You take time to reach out to the people who are able to hear you complain and are gifted at making you laugh. 

You make sure to read, watch, or listen to something pleasurable before going to bed.

You help yourself get better sleep by listening to a meditation or relaxation podcast designed for that purpose.

You forgive yourself for being overly sensitive or irritable during the day. And you forgive others for the same thing.

Being kind to your emotionally exhausted self recognizes that this has already been a long haul, that you have done your best to weather it, and that you will surely continue to carry on. I encourage you to try one or all of these tactics as an act of kindness – your exhausted self with thank you.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

 

Self-Care During Troubled Times

As many of us move through another week of being Sheltered in Place, it becomes increasingly more challenging to break away from the continuous demands of home, work, family, child care, elder care, animal care, and take a moment for ourselves. Without any boundaries or breaks between home life and work life, hard workers just work harder, depleting their energy to the point of either freaking out, blowing up or collapsing from exhaustion. You may find yourself feeling depressed, unfocused, or less productive than usual. For any and all of these circumstances, self-care can help.

Self-Care may seem like a luxury when you are busy trying to juggle work obligations with home responsibilities during a global crisis. Many of the outlets that normally nourish us – gyms, restaurants, places of worship, shopping malls, spas, museums, music venues, nail and hair salons, parks – are not available. We are left to create self-care moments on our own.

Here are nine ways to practice the most basic form of self-care – taking breaks during your day:

  • Go for a 10-minute walk before you start your work day
  • Take a 10-minute relaxation break in the middle of your day using Calm, Headspace, 10% Happier or any other meditation app you like.
  • Insist on a real lunch break during which you refrain from using any screens and actually taste your food.
  • Indulge in a 10-minute music break — Play your favorite songs, and dance or sing along.
  • Buy some flowers for your home and take regular flower breaks – smelling them, touching them, enjoying their beauty.
  • Spend an extra 10-minutes after your bath or shower and give yourself a facial (refer to YouTube for simple facial techniques)
  • Make yourself laugh – Watch your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.
  • Let yourself cry – I know, this may seem self-indulgent or weak, but releasing tension or sadness through tears can be very cleansing. You may become tearful as you watch a feel-good movie or an ASPCA commercial. Whatever sparks it, try to give yourself permission to emote.
  • Take a pet break – If you have a pet at home, spend a few moments just sitting with them. Pet them, smile at them, and take in their affection.

Do any of these appeal to you? Did you think of others on your own? Whatever your idea of self-care is, I encourage you to instate a few practices every day. In order to take the best care of others, you need to take care of yourself. 

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.