Boosting Your Mental & Spiritual Wellbeing
by Deborah Goldstein, DrivenPros
Sometimes in life and in our careers, we feel unworthy, always visualizing others as being smarter, superior and better put-together. Worse still, our self-esteem sometimes takes a serious blow, and we hit our emotional rock bottom. Although deep inside we know better, we still live under the assumption that taking care of ourselves is, well, selfish. But once you emerge from your slump and start giving yourself the kind of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual care that you give to friends and family, your self-esteem can regenerate, and your life and career can get a jumpstart. If you’d read my recent article Releasing Your Illusions: Why Self-Care Will Lead to The Life You Want, you may already be taking steps toward that personal utopia, tasting the well-deserved sweetness of a greater self-worth.
This time let’s explore the strategies for protecting your mental energy. It’s one of the 4 energy tanks that, when kept full, will keep the magnificent and mysterious machine that is you working optimally. That precious and finite mental energy yields the creativity that we, as knowledge workers, are paid for. When our mental energy is taxed by the prevalence of workplace interruptions and distractions, for instance, that’s our cue to take a break and to find preemptive ways to mitigate distractions going forward.
Unmask the Impostor
One crucial way we tax our mental energy is by feeling mentally unworthy. It’s called the Impostor Syndrome, and it tricks us into thinking we’re not as smart as our colleagues, and that they’re going to find out. One pseudo-solution is to just work longer and do more in order to “keep fooling them”. This approach is born of the misconception that the number of hours worked equates to increased quantity and quality of your work. Our good friend and time management expert Laura Vanderkam has long since squashed that theory for us. Now let me squash the additional theory that you’re unworthy by reminding you that we are all smartest in the areas in which we specialize!
Less Is More
Despite all the distractions and the endangerment of our self-worth, our mental capabilities are also being stunted by the self-imposed practices we employ to boost our output. These practices actually detract from our effectiveness! Take, for example the number of hours you work. If you brag about working 75 hours a week, you’ve bamboozled yourself into thinking you’re a superhero (You’re also likely overestimating the number of hours you work by a third!). Even if you aren’t boasting but are trying to keep up despite your exhaustion, the best thing you can start doing now is LESS. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was referenced in the Washington Post as saying, “Studies have shown that after about 50 hours a week, productivity actually decreases, and it plummets after 55 hours, leaving no detectable difference between those who work 56 hours and those who work 70.” Your brain deserves a break today!
Do you feel compelled to “be there” for everyone, thereby losing sight of the important tasks and projects that advance your goals and aspirations? Do you leave yourself open to interruptions and distractions “in case anyone needs you”? Do you plow through, sucking it up, focusing on the 9-1-1 situations without looking at the important and non-urgent work? If this describes you, it might be time for you to re-lease your life using proactive self-care. Here are some optimal ways to begin:
- Grow your focus muscle by checking-in with yourself during the day. Assess where your mind is. Are you focused on substantial work? On busy work? Or are you engaged in an avoidance activity?
- Schedule smartly, planning the most tedious work at the times of day when you’re sharpest.
- Schedule in break times rather than pushing through. Even a 5-minute stretch and a glass of water can refresh the mind substantially.
- Check in with yourself once more before settling into deep-thinking work and acknowledge what may be lurking under the surface. Use this checklist as a resource.
We’re all worthy of the pursuit of happiness. Yet, it’s unrealistic to believe that we will always be happy. Our spiritual energy serves to keep us going when we’re surviving but not necessarily thriving. It generates a joyfulness that is essential to wellbeing. But here’s a newsflash: You can’t be spiritually fulfilled by just plugging into a smart device! So, for when you’ve got the blues and are feeling unworthy, I recommend having a physical folder of pictures that bring you joy and meaning (kids, grandkids, a great hike you took, the silence of a snowfall, etc.)
Gratitude is another joy generator. Try writing down your gratitudes in a confidence journal and periodically reading them back. Or, try reciting them to yourself at the beginning of each day. When I was going through a prolonged dark period, and my spiritual energy tank had gone bone-dry, I began to recite three gratitudes each morning, before I even got out of bed. Such a simple task, but I credit it as my crucial pivot from that scary and empty time.
My devotion to physical fitness is a powerful self-care supplement to gratitude. This FRIDAY’s OfficeHours will explore just that! And in my follow-up article, I’ll look at emotional self-care, or as Guy Winch labels it, “emotional first aid”.
If you enjoy what you’re reading and are considering living life more fully, schedule a complimentary consultative session with DRIVEN HERE.
Deborah Goldstein is the founder of the Driven Professionals, a community driven to support the health, well-being & success potential of NYC professionals. Deborah is also the founder of Goldie’s Table Matters, providing education and entertainment to both corporate and private clients nationwide.