This month, as we focus on relying on self care through big transitions, it feels important to acknowledge that making these major changes can sometimes be a form of self care in and of itself. This is not to say that the decision to shake up our lives is an easy one; even if it is unquestionably the right move for us, change can still be painful. So the question I hope to tackle then is twofold; First, how can we know that making a change is going to be in our best interest? And second, how can we best care for ourselves throughout these upheavals?
Over the next few weeks, I'll be discussing self care through three specific transitions, starting with workplace changes. According to a recent survey conducted by The Conference Board, a New York based nonprofit research group, the majority of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. We all know what it feels like to have a bad day, a bad week, even a bad month at work, but more than half of us are experiencing something even bigger than that. A chronic and consistent feeling of dread associated with work understandably takes a huge toll on emotional wellness.
We spend so much of our lives at work, and invest so much of ourselves, it is important to consider whether our jobs and workplaces are giving us what we need to be satisfied. The Chopra Center, which I referenced several weeks ago during a discussion of Ayurvedic medicine, also has a helpful article on job satisfaction. This article goes in depth about several of the key factors influencing our workplace happiness. With the help of this article (or similar ones) in addition to our own personal reflections on our emotions throughout the workday, we can ideally identify the specific factors contributing to our dissatisfaction. Then, we need to consider if these factors are fixable, whether by a change in our expectations or a change we can institute in our workplace. If not, it might be time for us to move on to either a new job or even a new career.
After making this big decision to move on, there should ideally be some relief in knowing we are doing what is best for ourselves. However, change -even if it is positive- oftentimes also comes with difficulties. As I mentioned last week, we are creatures of habit. It can feel difficult to adjust to disruption in our routine. But we can learn to tolerate and even embrace these transitions if we rely on self care throughout these times of change. Here are some ideas for self care in the midst of transitioning out of a job:
ESTABLISH NEW ROUTINES
After leaving a job, our daily routines get shaken up. Come up with new ones. Ritualize your self care practice by establishing new routines that revolve around caring for yourself. Institute a new morning ritual of drinking a hot cup of tea while reading a favorite book. Every night before bed, engage in a routine of taking a bath and then journaling in bed.
REFLECT ON LESSONS LEARNED
Most jobs, even bad ones, have the ability to teach us something. That something might be tiny, or it might be a long list of things you know you HATE in a workplace, but there is usually something we can walk away with. Consider taking a look back and reflecting on how you have grown and what you have learned through this job. Choose to carry these lessons forward and then leave the rest of the unpleasant baggage behind.
FOCUS ON STRENGTHS
Sometimes we worry about being judged as "quitters" by other people, and other times we end up judging ourselves. We may worry that quitting makes us weak, when in reality leaving a job that isn't right for us takes a lot of strength. Focus on your strengths by keeping a list of difficult things you have accomplished. This list might include things like learning an instrument, moving out of your parents house, making a brand new group of friends, etc. Add leaving your job to this list to remind yourself of the strength, self respect, and resilience required to shake up your life for the better.
Have you ever made the difficult decision to leave a job that wasn't right for you? What kinds of self care practices did you rely on to help you through this transition? I would love to hear from you in the comments!