It’s been another reflective week here at Vet Harmony HQ. How has it been for you?
What I’ve been noticing in my client calls and out there on social media this week is that many people are reaching a level of exhaustion. Emotional and physical tanks are starting to run empty after constant adjusting to current circumstances.
There have been ups and downs during lockdown for sure, and lots of positive things we can hold onto among the challenges, but I’m starting to see the effects on those who have been working extra hours and under challenging conditions relentlessly for weeks now.
Also the effects of uncertainty on those who are furloughed or in between jobs, or not able to get locum shifts etc.
It’s like we can crank up the dial on our resilience and coping skills for a period of time, but then if we’re not getting a break or release or change, it can start to feel really tough.
What’s been really helping me get through this time, to stay feeling generally upbeat and to conserve mental energy has been taking to my journal even more than I do normally.
So today I want to share a really useful journaling practice with you in case you resonate with the above and are feeling depleted for any reason at the moment.
Interestingly, my researching and learning about racial inequality and anti-racism over the last couple of weeks led me to a fascinating book by Shaka Senghor called Writing my Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison that I devoured in 48hrs.
It’s the story of Shaka’s 19 years in prison for murder and his redemption to become an amazing leader and activist for prison reform.
In the book he talks about how during his harrowing four-and-a-half-year stint in solitary confinement, journaling saved his sanity and allowed him to make sense of everything that was happening to him and not be overwhelmed by it.
I’ve also signed up to a new high-level mastermind group this month with 15 amazing entrepreneurial women who I know will support and challenge me to be my best over the coming 6 months.
One of the weekly tasks we do each Friday is hop on a Zoom call together with our coach Gemma Went. She gives us 4 journalling questions to reflect on about what’s gone well, what’s been a challenge, what are our learnings and what can we do better next week.
She then puts us on mute and together we work for exactly 30 minutes on these by ourselves in our own journals. In the two weeks since we’ve been doing this, I’ve had so many lightbulb moments and insights that I wouldn’t have got from just being permanently in ‘doing’ mode, with no set time for active reflection.
Brené Brown talks a lot about how we numb our difficult emotions and feelings which can then lead to feelings of anxiety, shame and disconnection. The first stage to working through this is to actually feel our feelings instead, allow them to be there and then let them pass.
Journalling is a great way to do this as you get the feelings out onto the paper rather than whizzing round your head endlessly, or being buried by half a bottle of Rosé or endless scrolling on social media.
So if you’re finding things tough at the moment, then try working through the following exercise once a week to help you to feel your feelings whilst allowing them to pass through you and be released, rather than holding onto the stress.
Grab your journal or a notebook and a pen, give yourself 20 mins or so and just free-write whatever comes up for you as you complete these sentences. No one is going to read this so you can let rip where needed – better out than in as the old saying goes!
However, we don’t want to get locked onto and stuck in the negative emotion, so it’s important to balance that out with actively looking for and giving recognition to what has gone well or made you feel good too, even if during the tough times that list is smaller.
This week I’m feeling angry because……
I’m frustrated/disappointed because……
I’m sad because……
I’m scared because….
This week the things that have gone well, been achieved or that I am pleased about are…….
I’m grateful for…..
I’m hopeful that….
Next week I plan to……
Now depending on how your week has gone, nothing may have made you overtly angry this week, there might just have been a few things you felt disappointed with and that’s fine – leave that prompt and just fill in the disappointed/frustrated one.
But sometimes just asking the questions can bring up stuff that is bothering you under the surface but out of being conflict-averse or having people-pleasing tendencies you might have been suppressing or not owning up to.
Some weeks you might be very aware of what’s p**sing you off and be able to very articulately complete that section!
Forcing yourself to reflect back and think about what worked well or what you DID get done, rather than all the things you feel you didn’t can often be a pleasant surprise as usually there is more positive stuff in there than you think, as we’re so much better at focusing on the negative.
We get more of whatever we focus on, hence the importance of actively training your brain to look at what you genuinely feel grateful for, happy about and things you have done well as this feeds into our sense of self-worth and our overall happiness with our lives.
Finally, in the “I plan to…” section, make sure you’re looking at your week ahead and creating specific actions to deal with anything stressful where possible e.g. asking for a meeting, requesting a couple of days off. Also look at what you can plan in for self-care and even fun, however small that might be.
Commit to nurturing yourself and soothing your soul with whatever your form of doing that – reading, dog walks, chatting to a friend, exercise, knitting, long bath etc.etc.
We cannot pour from an empty vessel so this is an act of service to others and to yourself rather than an optional self-indulgence.
That’s it from me this week,
P.S. If this time is bringing up feelings of wanting to make changes moving forwards, but you don’t know where to start, I have one slot left for June for one-to-one coaching and 3 available in July. Book a free 45-minute Exploration Call to have a chat and to find out more about how I can potentially help you.