(broad)ject self homework day #1: sleep!

The homework in last night's (broad)ject self "Self-Care When...You're Tired" was as follows:
"Your homework this week is to diagnose your bad sleep habits and try and break one of them. I’m going to try to abandon the snooze button and I will report back next week."

I was doomed from the start. I slept in until about 9:30am on Sunday morning and took an hour nap in the afternoon. MISTAKES WERE MADE. Then I was somehow surprised when my podcast timer shut off this week's 'Roderick on the Line' and I was left awake in silence. I should have followed my own damn advice and gotten out of bed and done...anything...for 20 minutes before trying to fall asleep again. Instead, I thrashed around and got increasingly agitated.

It came as no surprise to me then at 6am this morning when my alarm proclaimed "Yoga or read, dude" that I did neither. In fact, I snoozed for 35 minutes until I was on the verge of missing the late train. Great start to a Monday!

Still, I was heartened to see that the Globe & Mail dedicated their 'Life & Arts' section to sleep today.

1) In short: you may be sleep-deprived, but no more than your ancestors

2) In short: The podcast 'Sleep with Me' is weird but great (and I already recommended it to you)

3) In short: If you can't sleep, get up and get something done

The upside for me is that if I've had a bad sleep on one night, I'm usually pretty good to get to sleep on time the following. Wish me luck (and morning yoga). I'll report back!

In Short: Self-Care When You've Received Negative Feedback

I had a customer meeting this morning about a longstanding issue and we were hoping we'd finally identified the people who might be able to help us solve it.  It was a reasonably productive meeting, with lots of good takeaways.

I had driven up with my boss and as we drove away from the meeting she said, "So, you were pretty frustrated in that meeting." I readily agreed, as the action items they were requesting moving forward were things I had already been doing for months, but clearly no one had been paying attention. "Yeah," she replied, "it was really obvious." She continued to say that we have to go along to get along and other assorted comments about playing nice.

The conversation moved on, but I was rattled. I take constructive criticism very seriously, as I think it's worth its weight in gold. No-one likes to give it, no-one knows how to take it, and then we all end up not knowing how we can improve and getting blindsided when someone critiques us. I am always telling my managers that I want more of it. And yet somehow, it was really hard to hear.

Part of it is that no-one likes to screw up and I didn't want to be responsible for damaging the working relationship we have with this customer. I am a fast learner when it comes to this stuff and I won't make this particular mistake again. Every time I'm in a meeting from this day forward, until the day I die, I will remember my boss's comment and do my damnedest to keep frustration off my face and out of my voice.

But the real challenge I have with this particular feedback is that it touches a nerve for me. If you know me, you know I am loud, expressive, and an emotive open book. I am a lot of human. I own those characteristics, because they make me who I am. To not be any of those things would be to not be myself, to hide, to mute my personality. Generally, people can like it or lump it (and sometimes, they lump it, which is their right). Was it inappropriate to be frustrated in that particular meeting, with those particular stakeholders, over that particular topic? Did they even notice or was it just something my boss was sensitive to because she herself is quite expressive?

I will not be quiet because I make you uncomfortable but...sometimes we have to adapt to the circumstances and our environment.

I came back to my office and I ate my feelings in the form of someone's kid's rejected Halloween candy. That is not self-care. I noticed walking back from chatting with someone across the office that my shoulders were practically touching my ears because I was so tense. That is not self-care.

I should have made a cup of tea instead of mainlining tiny Twix and Crispy Crunch. I should have done a vinyasa at my desk and stretched it out before trying to plunge back into work. I should have forgiven myself for being frustrated and resolved to do better instead of sitting here obsessing over it.

But here we are. Water bottle fresh and full. 5 minute cubicle stretch break. Deep cleansing breath. Loop the shoulders. Onwards.

NO-vember 2nd: Red Cup No

As a Starbucks and Christmas devotee, November 2nd is the happiest day of the year. Why? Because November 2nd is the day that they launch their red cups as well as their holiday menu, including my personal favourite, egg nog. Traditionally, I celebrate the first day of red cup season with a Venti Chai Egg Nog Latte, a treat that I restrict myself to once a week thereafter due to its indulgent nature.

This morning? I said NO to a Venti Chai Egg Nog Latte. I even said NO to a red cup. I have been working on cutting down my added sugar consumption, and my daily Starbucks visit is a prime culprit. I'm testing out non-coffee drinks that have less sugar than my usual Chai Latte. Since I am a daily visitor, I do have a reusable cup to cut down on my habit's environmental impact. I actually have several reusable red cups from past years that I'll bring into my morning rotation to get in the spirit.

Saying no was easier than I had feared, in great part because I have a plan. Becoming diabetic is a real risk for me, so cutting down on my sugar consumption is super important. Still, everything in moderation including moderation, so I'll plan to enjoy my weekly holiday treat this coming Friday. I'll be in Belleville this weekend without a car, which means no Starbucks visits, so I won't be tempted to additionally indulge on the weekend.

How did you kick off NO-vember?


In Short: Self-Care When You're Sad at Work

I don't want to step on my own newsletter toes, and I will write about this one week in greater detail, but I wanted to write a few quick words about self-care when you're sad at work because I'm feeling a little sad today myself.

I loved the article by Julie Beck on the Atlantic website, 'The Internet Wants You to Take Care of Yourself'. She links to a handy game 'You Feel Like Shit: An Interactive Self-Care Guide', although the first roadblock I noticed was the suggestion to take a nap, which doesn't do me much good when I'm at the office. Beck's own checklist goes like this, "Drink water, Eat something, Work Out, Go outside, Take a shower". This is great advice, but again, not super applicable to someone who works in a cubicle farm like me. 

When I'm at my desk, my first step is to try to identify the problem. Today, I know there are a couple of specific things triggering sadness for me, specifically regarding situations other people find themselves in. At this point, I will either do a quick journal exercise or, more likely, try to identify something I can do in 5 or 10 minutes that might help me feel like I'm moving the issue forward and being helpful. After that, it's a fresh glass of water (or coffee, or hot chocolate, whatever you have available), a stretch session at my desk (maybe a vinyasa or just some forward folds), then a small snack. That's my equivalent of trying to shake it off enough to have a productive rest of the day. 

Your mileage may vary, so I'd love to hear what you do when you feel sad or anxious at the office.