On Monday here in Australia headline news was that Pope Benedict XVI became the second pope in 2000 years to voluntarily resign his post. Although I expected that, in a world where so many are judgemental, easily shocked and quick to cry “shame on you” on anything they disapprove of, there were very few cases I spotted in the chat streams along these lines.
Surely this is a sign of the times? Would the same general reaction have been true 50 years ago? Or even 10 years ago? Not that we had social networks to watch at the time but would people have been so forgiving and supportive back then? The jury’s out on this one for me.
We’ve been told we have passed the tipping point in our conscious awareness. Maybe this is a useful milestone to see how forgiving people are becoming. They had every chance to say how disgraceful it was that he put himself ahead of his followers, that he was given this job “till death do us part” and he was a quitter. Yet this week, the opposite reaction seems to have prevailed. Awesome!
When I wear my Stress and Burnout Expert hat, I think this is actually an excellent example for all of us. How often do you allow your job to destroy your health? How often do you put your career ahead of your partner and kids? (Not the pope, I’m talking about you!)
Stress has been proven to be THE major health hazard. Australian National Comcare Statistics for 2011-2012 showed Stress to be 10 times the cost of all other compensation claims put together. Stress isn’t just seen as an isolated illness though. If it’s not attributed directly to crippling you physically and mentally, it’s sapping your attention making you vulnerable to accidents.
Without stress we could live an average of 150 active years before our bodies started to slow down. Yet this is so rare, anyone who makes it over 100 often becomes a news item themselves.
While we’re talking about Popes I want to remind you of a quick phrase from the bible 1 Corinthians Chapter 6 which talks about your body being a temple.
What this means to me is that your body is worth looking after. If you don’t treat it with the greatest respect, you cannot do what you’re here to do. You can’t communicate well. You can’t work, teach, give, love, improve this beautiful planet and keep it running smoothly.
When you allow stress, professional burnout and an over demanding job – be it paid or unpaid – strangle your vitality, you can’t be the best mother, worker, boss, teacher, student, neighbour, lover or leader you can possibly be. What a waste!
Time is, in fact, speeding up. Have you not noticed? That makes each moment precious. I’m not suggesting you work like hell (bad pun considering we were talking about Popes). I’m suggesting you make quality moments rather than quantity.
Rest your body
Give up thinking it’s lazy to lie around. There is a balance of course but if you find you’re not concentrating well, not listening fully to instructions/ conversations or feeling annoyed when your kids want to tell you about what happened at school, then chances are you’re not giving yourself enough rest.
You may go through a phase where for 2 or 3 days you allow yourself 12 hours sleep. Maybe one night will do it. Maybe you need longer. Listen to your body and give it what it needs in terms of relaxation as well as exercise and good quality food/drink so you can truly do your best. No more listening to other people determining what vitamins, food and type of exercise you need. Listen inside. You’ll get a much better quality, bespoke to your true needs.
Rest your mind
Television, electronics, computers, even the radio are not actually resting your mind as much as you think. If you want to know what I mean, turn them all off for a whole evening after dinner. Turn it off for the whole family and watch what happens.
I was at a course yesterday where a guy spoke about ceremoniously dumping his big screen plasma TV at the city dump. Within a week he found his kids playing outside together regularly and fighting less. He found himself sitting with his wife and actually talking. Learning about each other’s day. Talking about deeper issues. The communication completely opened up allowing a better connection, more affection and room to contemplate.
If you’re not brave enough to completely dump your TV, allocate it a limited time. Mark on the TV guide one show a night or perhaps 2 nights a week with the rest of the evenings left silent.
Allowing room for that silence will feel really uncomfortable to start with. It might leave you jittery, quickly bored, fidgeting.
Hang in there though. Make it a 4 week challenge and as you get more used to it you’ll find your creativity opening up, the solutions to problems popping into your head and the added bonus of stress ebbing away which improves your health, your alertness and allows you to cope with your days better.
That body of yours can be a well oiled machine giving you more energy and immense satisfaction in the life you lead from day to day.
Do it like the Pope! Give your best every day and pay attention to when it’s time to rest or move on. Keeping yourself happy and healthy benefits the world way more than you could ever imagine.
UPDATE 15 February 2013
I realise now there is already rumour that the Pope may have resigned due to legal reasons rather than health reasons. We’ll watch that case with interest. Meanwhile, my point to the article about looking after yourself and putting you ahead of your job still stands! 🙂