I'll be the first to admit that I often work too hard. It's not lost on me. But what many people might not know, are the efforts I make to balance this work. The more I read about Millennials and, interestingly, this new wave of "emotional intelligence" I can't help but resonant with it.
The idea that Millennials are creating a new wave of emotional intelligence boils down to one key combination: Self-Care, mixed with Self-Awareness. Millennials invest more in themselves than any generation to date (I'm sure, some of you are snickering, because OF COURSE they do **eye roll** BUT, I'm here to tell you why this characteristic is less about self-absorption & more about serving other people).
In Ancient Greek, caring for yourself was encouraged and seen as a way to make an "honest citizen"; it inspired a caring attitude towards others. In other readings, it's said to be a way of self-preservation and I love this idea. Think about the way you treat people when you've had a long week and are on the end of your rope. I would bet it's far from kind, and in the end we end up hurting ourselves more when we act this way. Stress is toxic. Self-Care is important. & Self-Awareness is ESSENTIAL.
I'll explain self-care and self-awareness through my own experiences. I often work long days and fall into the habit of taking work home (even though my work is 100% fulfilling and I LOVE it, I can end up run down if I am not careful); so I have a long list of self-care habits:
- Sleep 8 hours every night, absolute must
- Exercise 4-5x/week
- Lavender diffused bath 3x/week
- Massage every 2 weeks
- Diet rich in colour & nutrients; 10+ veggies daily (This one affects me the most)
- Meditation/ Qigong 2x/week
- Journal & Gratitude list daily
- & I vow to zero work on Saturdays, it's all friends & family
While, all of these things are great, if I don't mix in self-awareness, they still won't cut it. This means work > ease. The way I stay in a place of work-home-life balance is by constantly checking in with my body and thoughts. Everyday, our bodies communicate with us. They show us symptoms. We can ignore them and push through (and I can tell you, in the long run we don't win), or we can listen to them, and bring back the balance. For example, for the last 2 weeks I started getting tension headaches. They weren't much at first, but instead of saying to myself, "hey, I need to rest and address this. I must be working too hard these past few days.." I kept going (knowing I had a vacation coming & the thoughts around my vacation worked against me). Usually I am good at listening, but this time I wasn't. I pushed so hard that I ended up with a debilitating migraine, that FORCED me to take a day off work. When this happened, it was a rude awakening that I had not been incorporating self-awareness. Had I been, I would have done what I needed to do during the "warning signs" (aka the tension headaches). I would have drank more water, stopped working earlier a couple times that week, and gotten a massage/ done acupuncture right away. My job is all about serving others & this is why I know taking care of myself is so important. Cancelling a day with my patient's meant their progress was temporarily on hold. We hear it so often, but you honestly can't pour from an empty cup. This extends past the healthcare field. It extends into our homes, with our spouses and our children. It extends into the way we communicate with strangers and how we deal with "hiccups" that life throws at us.
Interestingly, this self-mastery is what millennials are all about. They are interested in self-discovery tools like meditation and yoga. They invest more in their health through alternative therapies and they constantly make lists to better their self-care routine. And hey, we're developing a culture of emotional intelligence, thanks to it. This emotional intelligence brings kindness into our world, it brings empathy, it brings patience, & an ability to see other people's depth. The combination of self-care and self-awareness creates an honest sense of self-love. Something, I know personally, & from speaking to people all day, that we could all use more of.