One minute you are in your office doing mundane things, completing budget reports, listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Dont Kill my vybe”while eating your mid-afternoon snack. Happily checking tasks off of your extremely organized to-do list. When all of a sudden, RING, RING, RING… you get THE CALL. You know the one. The call that in 5 seconds or less changes the course of your previously smooth sailing day.
My blog focuses on the importance of self-care, and integrating wellness into your daily schedule so that when stressful situations rear their ugly heads, you are already equipped with wellness techniques to mitigate them. However, we all know that life has the tendency to throw curve balls at us, some big kahonas and other times little kahonitos. Regardless of the varied sizes of the annoying, untimely ball missiles. They all have one thing in common. They tend to show up when you least expect them to and without any warning.
For me the emotional curveball was a phone call of six words, ” I was sexually assaulted last night”. In my line of work, I regularly encounter scary health issues such as eating disorders, suicide attempts, drug overdoses, etc. None of these issues provide enough ammo to jettison my day. Sexual assault however tends to be my personal kryptonite.
Life does not provide you with trigger warnings
Those six words, triggered intense rage and sadness within me, not just because of the individual assault story but because of my multifaceted relationship with sexual assault. A few being as follows:
- A significant component of my previous work in NYC was designing sexual assault programming for teens. Conducting the research for those programs, I built strong relationships with young survivors that shared their stories of pain, isolation, survivorship and rebirth.
- I have friends and family members that are also survivors of sexual assault.
Life’s kryptonite comes in an intimate combination of different shapes and sizes for each and every one of us and unfortunately life is a rude-ass that refuses to provide us with daily trigger warnings. Kryptonite can appear in the following forms but are not limited to this short list: Death of a friend/ family member, sick pet, an expensive broken transmission, questionable roommate situations, insensitive-out-of-touch bosses adding new projects on to your old ones but not extending the deadlines , snarky coworkers spreading rumors and lies, workplace bullying and much more. All of us have sensitive spots or situations that can derail us. It is important for your professional development to figure out how to deal with them, before the facts, so when they do happen you can complete your tasks in a professional manner.
When your kryptonite gets thrown, How do you get through your work day?
Here are Four tips that I use to regain my strength to continue thriving during my workday:
- Acknowledge your feelings and take your own mental health pulse: In this situation, I took my pulse and realized that I was angry and sad. I wanted to find the culprit, smash their face in and then take the rest of the day off to be with the victim if that was what they needed. I recognized that this was a slightly irrational response. Instead, I took a moment to analyze the reasons why I was feeling triggered and re-evaluated what I needed to do to get through the rest of the work day.
- Make a Plan for how you will get through the day: I was in the process of hiring new employees for my office and I had six interviews lined up that I needed to complete that afternoon to remain on top of the hiring process schedule. To give the candidates a fair chance to be memorable, I needed to right my emotions and put my hurt and concern on the backburner for a few hours to complete my work tasks.
- Step 1: Clear MY HEAD and Deal with immediate emotions:
- I found a bathroom and cried. Then I washed my face and refreshed my makeup. I took a deep breath, returned to my office and did a five minute meditation breathing exercise.
- Step 2: RESTRUCTURE MENTAL TO DO LIST TO BE SELF COMPASSIONATE
- I called the person that I had the last meeting with and explained that a situation had arisen that I urgently needed to attend to. I transparently asked if they would be open to meeting with me during an earlier time slot. They agreed.
- On the way back to the office, I pulled out my calendar and shortened each of the candidate sessions by 10mins to expand the time that I had to work with. Cancelling 10 mins per session, provided me with an extra hour for me to move my last meeting of the day to an earlier slot.
- Step 3: Do What You Can To Address The Issue: After my final meeting, I finally was able to meet with the person and help them in whichever ways they deemed appropriate.
- Step 1: Clear MY HEAD and Deal with immediate emotions:
- Utilize your confidantes: Talk to a friend or coworker you trust. Do not be afraid to be transparent. Be conscious of politics and bureaucracy but also know when to ask for help or to take actions that are self-compassionate. Letting someone know that you are having a rough time can be hard because no one likes to be vulnerable or seem weak, but reality check friends. WE ARE ALL WEAK SOMETIMES! I’m not implying that you have to share your whole life story or even the details of the situation but having someone know that you are only standing on one leg that day can provide you with a little extra support to get through your day.
- Know that the Self-Care Does Not End After the Situation or At the End of the Work day: Writing blogposts is one of the ways that I self-care on a continuous basis. I knew that I would have to bottle up most of my feelings at work to get through those interviews but I made a decision that when I got home, I would write a blogpost about my process dealing with this situation to honor the person and to further analyze my emotions. After being with them for a few hours after work, I felt a bit emotionally drained. To continue my self-care I called a friend and went out to dinner and drinks with a group of people. I did not tell them about my day but just being around them made me feel supported and more emotionally stable.
Remember Tribe, your body, your mind. Forget about how you look and what people think of you at work. When you are old and gray and thinking back on how you lived your life, I hope that you will be able to say that I am successful because I was authentic and self-compassionate.
Be well, Tribe.
You got this.