"Self-care is the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider." (Definition published by the World Health Organization)
What's your definition of self-care that you are bringing into 2022 with you? Explore the concept of self-care and its ambiguous definition in this month's CEO Corner written by inviteCHANGE CEO, Janet M. Harvey.
What does the image above evoke for you?
Metaphors are so useful for our brains when we are experiencing anything in our lives that triggers discomfort, uncertainty, or a threat to our sense of safety and well-being. It might feel complex to consider yourself holding the world in your hands, joined with others different from yourself, and yet experiencing a common purpose to restore health and wellbeing in the face of a global pandemic and all its ripple effects. Each choice we make contributes to the experience of everyone, even for those people we never see or experience directly. For example, we all heard the chorus of the world at the COP26 conference suffer through the challenge of agreeing to a common shared purpose. We are witnessing our failure to address inequity in the response to the global pandemic that has resulted in the continuation of the coronavirus mutations. Nature isn’t waiting for us to choose. Nature is choosing for us and I for one feel the responsibility to rise to the seemingly insurmountable challenge that our choices to this point have generated.
How about you?
I framed the conversation in the context of self-care because for change to be sustaining we must begin with ourselves. Otherwise, we experience dissonance and conflict when pursuing a set of choices that on the surface seem rational, yet personally compete with our values, principles, or preferences. That said, doubt and uncertainty are fundamental to the change process. When we create allies of these emotions, empathy and compassion surface and we notice how our internal constructions for life, in the form of beliefs and biases, perpetuate an experience we no longer find satisfying. Awareness for how we are part cause and agent of that experience stimulates more confidence to deconstruct and re-construct our reality. Our “great resignation” phenomenon in the United States provides an example of this phenomenon of change, activated by the stress and trauma of lockdowns and remote work, buoyed by the time in isolation to consider what truly matters most and confirmed by the resolve to choose self-care as the path forward.
Curiously, we hear that self-care is selfish and self-indulgent and this expression carries a negative connotation. Yet we see that our current actions as a society that place competition for productivity and financial gain above health and wellbeing for all generates a paradox. The absence of self-care results in selfish and self-indulgent choices by the few impacting the health and wellbeing of the many. Awareness of our impact and influence upon each other is contagious and becomes reciprocal, both positive and negative, depending on your point of view. Being more deliberate to incorporate awareness as the first step toward more balance in our choices, creates an opportunity for different choices that are more appropriate for our context. To be more deliberate requires noticing our habits, pausing our habitual reaction, slowing down to take a breath and feel what, with a little more curiosity, might be more satisfying and healthier alternatives. I’ve just described the path for making a conscious choice of mindset to enter a time of not knowing, to be part of catalyzing connection and empowerment, our own, and that of others we engage each day.
Time measured by a calendar provides an artificial and useful way to pause, slow down, reflect, and breathe into the experience of the past year. Allow time to acknowledge each other, recognize where we did rise to challenges, and embrace not knowing in ways that surprised and provided resources and support for us. As the season of giving thanks continues throughout December and into the New Year, we invite you to pursue emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual self-care that opens connections, perspectives, and respectful choices for the health and wellbeing of all in our home, planet Earth.
Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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