AT Month 2019: Part 2 – Detach

Last week was about awareness.  Specifically, you paying attention to you and your stress levels, your reactions to those around you, and your thoughts.  If you’re back for Part 2, either you just want to keep reading or you came across something that made you a little more self-aware.  Either way, I’m glad you are back.  

Step one was awareness.  Check.

What is step 2?  Here is where it gets dicey – I don’t know.  You waited a whole week, paid attention to how you felt and what you thought only to come back to hear this guy say he doesn’t know what step 2 is?  (Am I inspiring confidence in you yet?)  Here is why I don’t know.  Specifically, what I mean is I don’t know exactly what you need to do.  Another project I’m working on has revealed to me that while each and every one of us is exactly the same, we are all quite different.  No matter who we are or what we think, stress has the same negative effect on each of us.  All the stress hormones and stress-related chemicals in our brain are all released in response to stress (and the CNS reacts to all stress in the same manner) and have the same effect on each of us.  That is why I can confidently say that if you do not address what is causing your stress, it will eventually beat you – our bodies break down 100% of the time when we are exposed to prolonged stress (if we don’t mitigate it).  But, how we each mitigate that stress is going to be very individualized.  If someone told me the only way to deal with stress was to run, that would actually do the opposite – my stress would increase because I don’t enjoy running so someone telling me to run to reduce stress would actually stress me out more.  

Step 2 is a very generalized step (Steps 3-56 are very specific. 56 steps is a bit of an exaggeration).  I got a text from a co-worker who is married to a manager of a business in our area.  The text read “A manager never stops  managing…I’m sure you wouldn’t know anything about that would you?”  (My assumption is that while they were completing a project around the house, her husband went into manager mode.)  My response was “Nothing.  If I’m not wearing a polo, my Mercy (our employer) switch is off.”  While I am an athletic trainer, athletic training isn’t all that I am.  Step 2 is to turn your AT/work switch ‘off’.  Start with less than 1% of your day; just 5-minutes today.  Maybe it is sitting in your car for 5-minutes after work in the parking lot NOT thinking about work, or just decompressing from work.  DO NOT drive home until you are able to drive those ‘work’ thoughts out of your head – your family will thank you for this.  DO NOT TAKE WORK HOME WITH YOU.

For the next week, my challenge for you is to find 5-10 minutes each day where you are detached from being an AT and/or taking care of other people.  This 5-10 minutes is the second step in taking care of yourself.  I’m going to be very specific with my only rule – that 5-10 minutes cannot be spent in front of a screen (including reading this).  The only exception is if you tell me you want to read and have a Kindle or you want to listen to music and don’t own an eight-track player which forces you to use your phone.  

For me, I’m very specific and protective of this time, and I have two of these windows each day.  The first is at about 5:00 am every day.  The second is before I walk in the door at home each night.  This one is the most important – I make a conscious effort to detach from work before I go into dad/husband mode.  Many nights have been ruined because of me carrying stress from work over into my house – while I attempt to pull this off, I’m not 100% successful.  Consciously detach.  Before you walk into the door to your home, visualize turning that AT with off.  Seriously.

“But, I’m an AT 24/7/365!” 

No. You are not, and quit hiding from your issues by falling back on being “a good professional”.  YOU need to go back to step 1.  If you have to work 24/7/365 at being a good AT you are in fact a bad AT – you should be able to be a good AT in just 40-80 hours per week.  If it takes you more time to do what others do in less time, you have a whole other issue, and I don’t know what it is.  But I do know it is even more important for you to go through these steps this month.  

Five minutes, everyday, for the next seven days.  That is a total of 35 minutes (and YES I used my fingers to calculate that complex math problem).  Take 5 minutes each day to detach from being AT and to decompress.  The later steps will introduce strategies to help accomplish this, but until you can find 5-minutes a day they don’t matter (if you can’t pull away for 5 minutes, lets be honest, you won’t actually do anything I recommend).  And, I’m fine with that  – if you don’t need anything from this series articles I am perfectly good with that; my website can handle the 10 visitors per day that it normally gets.  If  that jumps to 15 this month because 5 AT’s are working through these steps even better – I’d rather just have 5 people truly go through this than 100 superficially reading this saying “that won’t help” or “I don’t have an issue”.  Again, I’ll politely refer you back to step 1 – awareness.  

I will provide 1 resource this week that I think will help you. Take the time to listen to this.

I started listening to this podcast about a year ago and it quickly became one of my favorites.  The message in this specific podcast hit home with me, because I did this – when something came up, I jumped all over it in order to get it done.  I’d routinely get that task done, but then I’d find at the end of the day I’d actually got nothing done – so many itches came up that threw me off task it was getting hard to function.  It’s a little over an hour, so use your commute time to learn about itches.

GO!, make 5-minutes each day to detach and decompress, but then come back for part 3.

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