For years I thought I was rather unemotional. Boy was I wrong. I blame my lack of insight on Mr. Spock and the fact that I dined with the first officer of the starship Enterprise most nights of my youth. My father was a Trekkie and so my family watched Star Trek reruns while we ate supper. Mr. Spock was a family favorite and I hoped to be just like him – ruled by logic rather than feelings.
I fooled myself for some years, convinced there must be a Vulcan somewhere in my family tree. But now, with two kids, a demanding career, an octogenarian father, a mortgage, and all the other responsibilities that come with adulthood, I know I have emotions and plenty of them. Most days, my emotions enter the room a full minute before I do. I have ‘em, I flaunt ‘em, and if I’m not careful, they own me.
But I have to be careful, because being an adult means I don’t let to get my emotions rule the day. Full disclosure: I am better at this in some parts of my life than others. Work, for example, is one place where I have to be the boss, not just of the office I run, and the people I supervise, but of my feelings.
As a caregiver, you probably cycle through a range of different emotions everyday. They don’t call caregiving a roller coaster for nothing. A crisis, a health setback, a family member’s unsolicited opinion, even the sound of the phone ringing or an incoming text buzzing, can make your heart race and your adrenaline rush. So how do you maintain a professional demeanor when caregiving creeps into your work?
Recently I joined Denise Brown, of Caregiving.com on her podcast to talk about how caregivers can manage emotions at work. You can listen to the podcast via this link. Here are some of the highlights and takeaways:
- Practice mindfulness. I just discovered a meditation app called Calm and I am hooked. The app guides you through 2, 5, 10, 15, or 30-minute meditations designed to bring you clarity and peace of mind. You can even set the app to remind you to relax and breathe at certain points during the day. A key to managing emotions is being able to put space between stimulus and response. Meditation builds that discipline. So meditate today and hold your temper tomorrow when you discover the copy machine is jammed yet again.
- Rewrite your story. The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. When you are feeling overwhelmed, notice the story you are telling yourself. Perhaps you are thinking, “I will never get it all done,” or maybe, “I am always the one who has to…” If you catch yourself using the words “always” and “never” there’s a good chance you are telling yourself a story in which you are the victim. How about, “This is challenging, but I’ll get through it. I always do,” or, “Good thing I am organized because I have a lot to do.” When you cast yourself as the heroine of your own story, you will feel more in control – of your life and your emotions. Cast yourself as the heroine of your story. #workingdaughter Click To Tweet
- Set boundaries. It’s perfectly okay to tell people – family members, professional caregivers, neighbors, that you are unavailable during work hours. If a call from your sister to “talk about Mom,” makes you cranky, tell your sister you can’t talk at work – except in a crisis. And then, define what a crisis is and isn’t.
- Make a plan. If you are in a bad place emotionally and you have to work, set yourself up for success as best you can. If you need to have your phone on the conference table during a meeting, let your coworkers now you are expecting an important call and may need to step out. If you are distracted by what’s happening at home and need to produce a report, ask that someone check the numbers or proof your work. Don’t share all the drama and details; just lay out the facts.
- Remember, not everyone orbits around your sun. And most importantly, respect the fact that your coworkers and managers still have a job to do. Your priorities are not theirs. You may not be able to perform at your best but they still need to. Don’t take offense when the world goes on without you. You’ll rejoin it when you can. Not everyone is orbiting around your sun. #workingdaughter Click To Tweet