Author: Pip

It´s been a bad day – here are some remedies

It’s been a bad day at work. Not just a long day, or a draining day. One of the awful ones. It probably included one or more of the following:

  • Witnessing some backstabbing or being the subject of it
  • One (or more) of your clients are in bad shape and you’re paralysed unable to help
  • Someone treated you disrespectfully or played the blame game on you

Sometimes it isn’t until you are heading home that you realise how shitty the day was. You feel heavy, yuck, like someone has their boot firmly pressing into your chest. It sucks having to take work home with you, and it sucks even more when it makes you feel like shit.

So, what to do?

You could do nothing. Sometimes when you sleep on it, the sleep magically carries the feeling away with it. But, if you can’t sleep, or have a while until you can sleep, here are some other ideas.

  1. Distract yourself. Think of something completely different, and something on the opposite side of the emotion spectrum. Thinking of sad or angry things just deepens that emotion´s pitstop in your body, when we want to let it flow through and pass.
  2. Listen to music. Specifically, big, screaming ballads or your old time favourites that you love singing (or yelling, or screaming) along to. I’ve put together a special lung-bursting playlist for you here.
  3. DANCE (or other movement). Researchers on trauma and the body such as Dr. Bessel van der kolk and Dr. Rachel Yehuda have shown that the body holds the impact of emotions long after the actual situation has passed. So, put on some music (or don´t), fling yourself around, get your boogy on, dance your heart out.
  4. Hugs. So, assuming that none of the above have totally worked, getting and giving a big bear hug can also be helpful. Something about the action of squeezing and being squished, like wringing out your body. If you don´t have an appropriate hugging person nearby, squeeze a pillow really, really hard.
  5. If nothing above works, try letting out the emotion. Try watching a movie that taps into it. I don’t really advise listening to sad or angry music – it let’s you sit in your own experience and deeper into it. A movie means you can have a cathartic release (cry it out!) through identifying with the story of the characters, rather than mulling over what happened to you.

 

 

A short good practice quiz

What´s good work? It´s hard to nail down exactly what best practice is. Here´s a short quiz that brings together different aspects of what can guide good work :

Are we in touch with our peers beyond our organisation?

Do we share ideas with others, and take ideas from others? Do we take time out to get inspired and inspiration?

Do we take time out of our focus to take a bird´s eye view of our context of work?

Do we think strategically about our work? 

Do we care for ourselves?

8 questions to reflect on where things are at for you:

  1. Have you been to a conference in the past two years?
  2. Have you attended a workshop where you were the participant in the last 6 months?
  3. Do you subscribe to any newsletters or digests from outside of your organisation?
  4. Do you connect with or have contact with others from your sector, but outside of your organisation, on a regular basis?
  5. Do you have a code of ethics that you refer to?
  6. How much leave have you used in the past 12 months?
  7. How often in 12 months do you plan and strategise about your work?
  8. How often do you have a 1-1 meeting with your manager?

 

How to look at your answers

  1. It is important to connect with new ideas and other people in the sector and beyond. There´s nothing that says you have to go to conferences. But they are useful to keep up with research and new ideas that could help you in your work.
  2. Same as above. Workshops are useful not only to learn about new ideas, but also to upskill and learn new ways to do things.
  3. Ideas and inspiration are crucial to innovate in our work. Videos, blogs, podcasts, research reports – it all keeps our wheels of discovery turning, helping us to see new links in what we do, so that we can do it better.
  4. Similar to above – connecting with others, hearing how they do things can give us new ways of seeing, new perspectives on the issues, the context, the world.
  5. What do you have to guide your work? When you´re in a sticky situation, what guides you to act ethically and do no harm? Social workers, counsellors, and the like, have a Code of Ethics which guides their work, their behaviour, and the line of what is appropriate when working with the world around them. What do you have?
  6. Self-care! If you haven´t taken any leave in the last year, ask yourself why. Taking breaks and white space are essential to rest. Think of Winter – the season where nature lies in rest, to prepare for Spring.
  7. I always say, if you don´t know where you´re going, you can´t go anywhere. Strategy is essential to be clear on your purpose and what you are trying to do. Importantly, it also helps you match your methods to your objectives. This is also a good moment to look at the evidence for what works.
  8. Our organisations are known for often having a lack of support. You might have a manager, but they are often so busy dealing with their own workload that there isn´t much time for you or your development. 1-1 meetings are useful to catch up, get advice, see what you´re doing well and what needs work. Maybe you don´t have regular 1-1 meetings, but maybe you feel completely supported by informal catch ups and other colleagues. That´s ok too.

 

 

Book review: The Idealist´s Survival Kit

Although I have seen Alessandra Pigni´s work over the last few years, it has been in the past year that she has really caught my attention. Her strong opinions and straight talk on the realities of aid work are like fresh air. So when I found out that she had a book coming out, I knew I would want to read it.

The Idealist´s Survival Kit: 75 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout is some 250 pages long, made up of 75 short chapters. As Hugo Slim alludes to in the forward, it is a collection of 75 short essays on the topic of burnout. Throughout the book, Pigni charts the path of burnout – how it happens, the feelings of anger and injustice after, and then, crucially, how to move past it. The book is full of quotes, references to research and stories from aid workers and humanitarians.

Asking aid workers to practice self-care so they can suvive in tough or toxic work environments implies that beyond paying for a bit of training and counseling, organizations have no other role to play in contributing to the well-being of their staff (and hence the world). (p56)

As usual, Pigni doesn´t pull any punches. She is unwavering in her addressing of the issues that we often don´t speak about in the sector. In my experience in the sector, so many people are burnt out or in the process of burning out and yet somehow unwilling to do much about it (often until it is too late). What´s special about this book is that it makes many of the covert aspects of working in aid overt. While she is clear about what we as individuals can do to prevent and recover from burnout, she is particularly damning of organisations and their lack of forethought and care into how their culture, policies and processes will affect staff.

While the cause we purport to advance may be noble, we need an environment that does not crush our soul while maintaining to ¨empower¨ those in need or improve society. (p57)

As a psychologist, Pigni knows what she is talking about when it comes to things of the mind. She carefully blends in talk of self-care, mindfulness and reflection, along with activism, action and the reality on the ground. The book shares many stories from interviews and other conversations from Pigni´s life. The interviews are impressive, as they report aid workers´ stories as we would almost never hear them in public – vulnerable, and in many ways, scathing of work to do good. The book is full of clear research references which not only back up Pigni´s work, but also provides further reading for those who want to delve deeper into burnout. One of my favourite parts of the book are the reading suggestions made at the end of every chapter.

Being a humanitarian worker or activist in the twenty-first century is twice as difficult: not only do we have to work ourselves to exhaustion as if we were in investment banking, but we also need to prove that we have values and ideals and are committed to transforming the world. (p225)

This book is an essential for those who work with people at risk of suffering from burnout (especially including all managers, organisational policy makers and HR managers in the helping professions), and for everyone else who wants to avoid it or move through it. It is an easy read and yet comprehensive, where Pigni really drills down to help us understand very clearly what is burnout and how it operates. A great read and highly recommended.

Buy the book here.

Read more of Alessandra´s work here.

Read my interview with Alessandra here.

 

Why knowing yourself is important to best practice

Before all else, we must know ourselves. Who we are on the inside will flow through and affect everything we do.

Let´s jump in! Boil the jug, make yourself a hot drink, turn on some of your favourite music, and put aside a little bit of time for some inner delving.

Know thyself

This concept of self-knowledge is so important that it shows up across cultures and time. It was carved into the Apollo Temple at Delphi in Greece some 2000 years ago, and also finds itself throughout other belief systems such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Plato argued that to know others, we must first know ourselves. Understanding our own complex feelings, emotions and thoughts provides us with insight to how others may think and feel. We can act with more compassion and do better, more effective work.

So what can you learn about yourself?

You are not the creator of all of your beliefs

Let’s start with the aspects of ourselves that we cannot change. They are the pieces of our identity that we are born with and inherent to us.

The way we see the world is influenced by our experience of it. All aspects of who we are – our colour, where we live, our gender – all of our experiences, being, and learning shape how we see the world and the work that we do in it.

So have a think – what makes you, you? Are you White, Black, Latin, Asian, something else? Are you straight or gay, bi? Are you a woman or a man or something else? Are you religious and what belief system do you follow? How do each parts of your identity shape who you are? What beliefs do you carry about the world? How do all of the parts of you fit together to shape your specific world view? Your family might be from one place, but maybe you grew up in another place. All of the intricacies of who you are make who you are.

Why the heck am I here?

Before going anywhere or doing any work, we should be clear on our purpose. What are we wanting to achieve? Understanding the why behind that is even better. Why is it that I want to help others? Purpose is something that we can chase our entire lives. They can be small or big, long or short. I like Tara Mohr´s position that your calling may change throughout your life. I would also argue that while our callings might change, we all have an overall purpose or effect that we want to leave on the planet.

The billboard statement exercise, used by Coaching Training Institute (CTI) and Jennifer Lee, can be useful to figure that out. So if you had to put one message on a billboard, what would it be?

Professional influences that shape us

Our personal experiences of the world often connect with our theoretical leanings. Jan Fook argues that usually going to university and learning about different models and theorists doesn´t change the way we see the world. Instead, we look for and identify with those models and theories that confirm our experience of the world. Coming back to the idea of reflexivity, it is powerful to know and acknowledge our theoretical influences. We can use them as foundations for our work. We can lean on them in times of uncertainty, to explain what is challenging us, and use it to find answers and solutions to problems we face.

Do you have any favourite theorists or models for work? When you are in the middle of an argument with a colleague about how to do something, whose ideas do you use to back up your argument? What informs the way you do your work? What theories or models  do you most identify with?

How does this all help us in practice?

John Heron argued that emotional competence is essential to helping others. He says, ´emotional competence… For helpers, this means that their own anxiety and distress, accumulated from past traumatic experience, does not drive and distort their attempts to help… Emotionally educated people will be able to work on their distress and suffering, and to take charge of it enough to liberate their helping from it.´

We aren´t delving into trauma or psychology here, but the importance of having strong and clear foundations of who we are clear. In world-changing work, we are working to help someone or something, whether it be people or the environment. Being self-aware helps us to bring our best self to do our best work. Self-care is part of this equation to keep us with a full cup, but it also starts as a base – to be aware of ourselves and what might get in the way, distort or harm the work we want to do, and what gives us strength, clarity and purpose.

What’s best practice in changing the world?

A couple of months ago, I attended a conference on outdoor education, where I went to a session on best practice run by Rachel Moore, who works on developing and promoting best practice in the outdoor recreation and tourism sector. Best practice in the outdoors is very important – literally death is a possibility if you don´t follow best practice in gear and procedures. It got me thinking about best practice in the social justice sectors, particularly thinking about development. The development sector is made up of so many different professions, that while each separate profession has it´s best ways of doing things, it doesn´t mean that they are all used or applied together. In fact, arguably it makes things so complicated that we end up with a big mess.

What is best practice in changing the world? Is there one way, or many ways to make things better?

These questions have really stumped me. This is a third revision of this article because quite frankly, I got lost in trying to answer them. While we have ethics and processes and procedures and best practice ideas, we still have a long way to go in getting things right and transforming the world.

The session with Rachel really dug into what is best practice and how the heck do we know that we are doing it. Here I want to share some of her insights and then below discuss my perspective on how this applies to changing the world.

  • There are a number of sources we can look to for best/good practice standards: experts, sector groups, industry developed guidance materials, regulations. While some sectors have strong set procedures and processes, others do not. Rachel pointed out that we cannot have two different groups doing similar work and having completely different standards. This is a sign of a lack of clarity on what is good practice. 
  • Once we have the information about standards, we need to know how to use it. This means checking if it is a reliable source (Is it current? Who wrote it? Is it supported by the sector?) and check whether it meets legal requirements.
  • Keeping up to date is essential. What was best practice in the 1970s isn´t necessarily good practice now. Rachel suggested having a plan to keep up to date. This means regularly engaging with others and checking in with how others are doing things.

 

There is no one thing called ´best practice´. The contexts we work in and the issues we work on are so diverse – it would be impossible and foolish to be prescriptive about how we should tackle our work. Instead, we need to think about the way that we work and the reflective process that ensures we better match our work with needs. In fact, ‘best practice’ is less of an outcome and more of a process or way of thinking, with the result really being ‘good practice’ – something that doesn’t go below the absolute minimum expectations of our work. Awareness and reflection on our expectations, requirements, and processes is crucial to ensure that we have positive outcomes.

For me, good practice is built from a combination of things: ethics, principles/values, and practices/tools/ways of working.

Ethics form the absolute baseline of what is acceptable, like what the woman referred to as a minimum standard of practice. It is about influence, impact and effects. What ethical framework do you use to guide what is right and wrong in your work? Many sectors have a Code of Ethics, which can be referred to in tricky and grey situations. I´ve put down the framework for one for changemakers here. In my own work with young people, I use this Code of Ethics developed by youth workers in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Principles and values guide us towards best practice. They provide a framework for what is ethical, but also what is best practice – the goals that we are shooting for. I think the Voice Bureau does a beautiful questionnaire to find out your voice values, or here is a list of 400 values just to give you a start. Some of my own values are activism, compassion, and feminism.

Practices and tools are how we do the work. The way that we do the work and the tools we choose to use are influenced by our principles and ethics. Are we choosing tools and approaches because they best fit the situation and the needs?

What’s best practice for you? How do you apply it in your work? What ethical framework do you use when you come up across grey areas? How do you know which tools to use in your work?

Rest VS Recovery

Not long ago, I was on a training on health and safety. The trainer mentioned the importance of resting in our off time. He said, ¨Remember – there is a difference between rest and recovery.¨

What’s the difference for you? When the weekend or your time off comes around, are you resting or are you recovering?

Rest: To refresh oneself, to cease from motion.

Recovery: To get back or regain, to make up for, to regain one’s strength, composure, balance.

The difference is subtle, right? Rest is to replenish and revive. To recover assumes that you need to come back from sickness or a loss of some kind.

The past two weeks here have been hectic. Away for a week doing training, husband gets job on farm, we moved to said farm, we buy car (we take on debt), my commute to work increases dramatically. This weekend, I was tempted to just put on Netflix and have the time slip away. Instead, I did some baking, washing, went for a short walk/run, and spent time outside chopping firewood. I did watch a movie and I had two delicious afternoon naps. The emotion that had built up over the week dissipated with the exercise, my belly and senses loved the baking (scones with jam and whipped cream), and the naps relieved my heavy tiredness. I feel like I actually used the time doing things I enjoy and are good for me, rather than ignoring everything.

Deciding what you want to do to rest, replenish and recover is up to you. There is no one-size-fits-all. It does take mindfulness – being aware of how you are feeling and what needs you have. It could be taking a bath, having a massage, going for a walk, talking to a friend, cooking something delicious, watching a movie, reading a book, taking photos, patting an animal, or a million other things. Whatever it is, choose it fully and enjoy it fully.

How do you manage yourself when you’re full tilt? Does what you do in your time off replenish you, or does it mean you end up worse off in the long run? What do you do when you get time off?

 

Put your vision in their shoes

Have you ever been so clear on what you wanted to happen, but be stumped for how to explain it, or struggled to get people on board?

It could be a problem of explaining your vision.

It isn’t always just a matter of priorities. People think differently. Some are great at vision, some are great at strategy, some are great at putting things into place. Being able to explain what we’re working on and where we want to get to is important in advocating for ourselves and the themes we’re working on.

So how do we communicate our ideas well? We need to connect the dots.

There are two important people in any conversation, negotiation, or discussion:  yourself (as the speaker/convincer), and your audience.

Be clear on what is most important for you get across. What do you want them to understand, to see, to agree to?

Then you need to connect those dots for them from their point of view to your vision.

Explain the context of your vision and the how and why of your plan to get there. Make it relevant to them. Ask yourself who is your audience, what interests them, what do they want to get out of it, what will relate best to them?

It can be easy to come up with ideas. The hard part is getting other people on board.

Put your vision into their shoes and you’ve got something that just might work.

Boundaries, damnit (and a mini-worksheet)

We often have a lot of pressure to always be available. I have a friend who is receiving and answering emails at 11pm. I have other friends that works on the weekend and it is just part of the work.

It seems like everyone does it, so there must be something wrong with you or me if we can’t keep up, right?

No.

My computer does this funny thing – when I don’t turn it off for weeks on end, it starts going regularly to a black screen. It takes ages to load a file and doesn’t play my music when I ask it to.

If a machine – a computer – needs to be turned off to be able to reset and be at its best, then does it surprise us that we humans also need to turn off every once and a while?

The problem is boundaries and expectations. We aren’t always clear about what our organisation actually expects from us. People think that working hard means working long hours. I don’t agree. A hard worker needs to have space for rest, hobbies and loved ones to be able to keep firing at their best and engaging in their work. Otherwise, we can head down the road towards burnout, or other similarly dark paths.

So it is about boundaries. Boundaries help us keep focussed and give us space for things that we want or need to do. But it can be scary. How can we put up boundaries, especially when it seems like nobody else has them?

  1. Know Thyself

The first step to setting up useful boundaries is to understand yourself and what you need. What is most important to you? What are your values? What do you need to be yourself and happy? What are your absolute limits?

For example, sleep to me is essential. There are other things that make me feel good, but a lack of sleep will take me down, fast.

  1. Set some rules

The next step is to establish the framework that you need to be well and good at your work. You have an idea about what your limits are and what you need to be well. What do you need to do, how do you need to live your life to be well? What, if anything, do you need to change to align with what you need or want?

For example, I go to bed by 9.30pm every night. It is early for others, but it is what I need to do to make sure that I am able to take on challenges and feel good during the day.

Maybe for you, this might look like – taking time off for lunch, making it home for dinner with loved ones, starting your day with exercise, checking emails only once or twice a day, removing email from your phone, going to bed at a certain time every night, booking a holiday.

A side note: Are you the kind of person that likes rules? Are you more likely to follow them if you set them, or if someone else does? Do you hate rules and do the opposite of what someone tells you? Understanding how you best regulate yourself is important to setting the boundaries that you want. If you’re interested in knowing where you stand on this, take this test by Gretchen Rubin.

  1. Communicating your rules to others

This is the hard part. How do you tell people what you aren’t going to do? Well, you don’t. Focus on the positive – what you are going to do and by when. Depending on how far away is your current reality with how you want it to be, you may need to make slow adjustments rather than change everything all at once. Work as efficiently as you can and be focussed when you are working – no Facebook or social media, no mindless surfing. Figure out how you best get things done (do you need a list, a calendar, prioritise tasks, work alone, with music, etc).

It is important to also take stock of how much of your work depends on or is affected by others. Controlling your own work when you are largely work alone is easy, however it is more difficult in a team. If you work as part of a team and rely on other to finish your work, consider whether there are better ways to improve the work flow. Are there regular bottlenecks or challenges that come up? How could things be better streamlined? Are there communication issues that could be improved?

There will always be times where the rules go out the window. A big project that needs to be completed on time, a sick family member, a once in a lifetime chance to do something. Life likes to throw us challenges. The first step is the most important one – If you know yourself, you will be able to reflect on what influences you and find creative solutions to help you be able to juggle things to your advantage.

Here is a mini-worksheet to get clear about your work and your boundaries:

 

1. These are the five things most important to me in my life: 

X

X

X

X

X

2. To be at my best, I need more ________________ and ___________________.

3. My organisation has these expectations of me:

X

X

X

4. My manager and team have these expectations of me:

X

X

X

5. I know this because _________________________________________. The evidence I have for this is

____________________________________________________.

6. These are the things that must absolutely get done and to the best of my ability:

________________________________________ and _______________________ and __________________________.

7. These are the activities that are not priorities and can be flexible or pushed back:

_____________________________________________ and _____________________________ and ____________________.

8. I am going to make these things changes/boundaries ___________________, ___________________________, and

__________________________.

 

Two kinds of fear

Fear is one of those huge things that holds us back.  Sometimes it feels like the potential of walking through those spike bushes in the photo above. But did you ever stop to really feel that fear and wonder what it is that it is trying to tell you?

We feel fear when something poses a potential threat to us in one way or another, whether that be physical, such as flying thousands of feet in the air or being faced by a tiger, or mental, such as standing up in front of a large group of people, speaking up in a work meeting, or applying for a different job that stretches us.

The thing is that, luckily, there are different kinds of fear, and when we tune into them we can learn how to use them to better craft the life that we want.

Tara Mohr describes two types of fear – yirah and pachad. Pachad is the fear that we recognise easily – the kind that comes from our lizard brain that was made to keep us safe from woolly mammoths and sabertooth tigers. These days it shows up when we go outside of our comfort zone or get in a dangerous position. That might be when we put ourselves in the spotlight or have the potential to receive criticism.

Pachad, lizard brain fear, can be calmed by deep breaths and by movement, like shaking it out of the body through dance, a gym session, a run or a brisk walk. When you feel it, label it for what it is and be curious about it – what is it trying to protect you from? Follow it down the rabbit hole of worst case scenarios. You might be surprised – often once we face the possibility of the worst, we can get back to the present and get on with it.

The other kind of fear, yirah, is something that you have probably felt, but perhaps been unsure about how to deal with it.

Try thinking of one of your deepest wishes. Imagine yourself doing it, making it happen. How does that feel? Often our deepest wishes, the feelings of hope and excitement are accompanied by fear. It’s that “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh” that we scream to our friends or partners when we are about to jump feet first into something that excites and scares us. This is yirah.

The thing about yirah is that we can misdiagnose it for pachad, that fear that tries to tell us to avoid things. But yirah is telling us to go for it. It is a flash of energy that we should follow. It is something we want to breathe into, rather get rid of. Feel the energy of the fear and recognise how similar it is to excitement.

When I think back to the big decisions in my life, they were almost all accompanied by yirah. The day I decided to travel through Central and South America by myself for a couple of months is a good example. I almost let the fear get to me when my plans didn’t initially work out. Instead, I thought carefully about why I had wanted to go in the first place. I leaned into that fear/excitement and made other plans.

Fear itself isn’t the problem. It is the way that we react to it. If we spend all our life running away from fear, we will never challenge ourselves or do anything different. You would never take a risk or a chance, simply because of the possibility that something might go wrong. The secret is that even when things don’t go according to plan, they still turn out (mostly) ok.

So my question to you: what fear are you running away from? What yirah do you want to follow?

What is self-care?

Why is it important? How do you do it?

Self-care is one of the things that gets talked about too much about, we tend to not do enough of, and don’t understand either.

Quite simply, it is about taking care of yourself.

Why self-care?

When we think about looking after someone, like a friend, what do we mean? Maybe bringing them some soup, cleaning up space, having a laugh, going to the movies, getting a massage, eating some good food, going for a walk together.

When we are so willing to be there for others and encourage them to care for themselves, why do we not do that for ourselves?

“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.”   ~ R. N. Remen.

As changemakers or agitators, we are often in the midst of the most painful problems that exist in the world. We feel the issue so strongly that we are pulled to dedicate our time to it. But being so intertwined with the issue can mean that we carry a heavy burden made up of the pain of others.

Not only that, but we are also often stretched to limits we didn’t even know existed. Long hours, unable to disconnect from email and work responsibilities, even long after we have left the office. Travelling to dangerous places, living far from family. Low pay and challenging employment opportunities. We put ourselves under a lot of stress in our mission to change something in the world while having to make a living.

Why do we look after ourselves?

Well, apart from the fact that it makes us feel good, it is especially important in our line of work because of the negative end of the line that can await us. Many of us will recognise burnout, but it is also sometimes called compassion fatigue or secondary trauma. Or there is what Dr. Jim Guy calls moral injury, where you have been exposed to conditions that are at total odds with a value that is important to you, and perhaps has required you to take action that does not fit with your moral compass.

“Taking care of ourselves while taking care of others allows us to contribute to our societies with such impact that we will leave a legacy informed by our deepest wisdom and greatest gifts instead of burdened with our struggles and despair”.  ~ Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

Whatever it is that has led to it, basically you’ve hit the end of the road where you can’t care anymore. Not just not care, but not do anything. Sometimes getting out of bed can be difficult. For me, knowing that these conditions exist and recognising them in myself was the first step to helping me get back on the path of feeling balanced, joy and be able to carry on working for change, without carrying a bitter chip on my shoulder.

Let’s smash some preconceptions

Self-care isn’t expensive

Self-care isn’t difficult

Self-care doesn’t require heaps of time

Self-care isn’t about doing something ‘special’

Painting your nails? Haircuts? Massages? Long walks on the beach?

Self-care isn’t only about big things that you have to save up for or take leave for.  It isn’t about girly or fancy activities either. Maybe you want to treat yourself, go on holiday, or get a new outfit. Those things can help you feel good, but they aren’t the be all and end all of feeling good.

Good self-care is made up of little things that you do regularly. They help you feel loved, well, balanced and connected.

Christy Tennery-Spalding put together a long list of examples of self-care that she practices. It includes things like putting Epsom salts in a bath, getting outside, playing with animals.

For me, self-care looks like starting my day with half an hour of yoga, and not beating myself up that I’m not doing more. It looks like trying to remember to drink water, walking to work holding hands with my husband, reading lots of interesting stuff, and enjoying listening to music whenever possible.

Self-care is a compassionate and flexible practice. It changes as you change, and we don’t beat ourselves up when things don’t go as planned or hoped.

Chase Jarvis compared how we care for ourselves to how we care for our cellphones. We can go to great lengths to ensure that our cellphones are protected and always ready to go – carrying extra batteries and chargers with us. Self-care is no different – making sure that our batteries are always charged and we are ready to go.

What does self-care look like for you?

I believe that self-care takes into account seven different aspects – sleep, food, nature, connection to community, spirituality, movement, and inspiration.

If you think about these different areas, how do they stack up for you? Maybe they don’t all matter to you the same way. For me, movement, spirituality and nature is super important. What is important to you? What makes you feel good? What are you feeling a longing for?

Importantly, remember to start off slow. Pick something easy. A friend of mine started with flossing. I started with reading interesting blogs.

What will you start with?