self care for trainers

Self care for trainers: you’ll be glad you read this one!

It’s occurring to me more and more that as a facilitator, trainer and coach, self care is really important.  Many of you reading this blog will ‘be in service’ of others.  You will be giving your time, knowledge, expertise and energy to others on an hourly, daily even weekly basis.  You could be travelling to far flung corners of the world, the UK, or just up the road. Time may be sapped with administration, you find yourself sat in front of the computer preparing, thinking or musing.  Your thoughts are on your clients, your future work or growing your business.

Essentially your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy is focused anywhere and everywhere except on you.

In the past, when I have found myself in an intense period of work, there is a tipping point where my body has said ‘Oi, what about me?’  For me, this shows up in a number of ways –

  • tight neck
  • sore shoulders
  • lower back pain
  • tiredness
  • the dream where I think I haven’t revised for one of my university final exams (I left University 22 years ago!)
  • I notice I have a short fuse, and I can snap or be quite direct with others
  • my body craves fatty or sugary foods
  • my desire to exercise drifts
  • I am unable to dial into my intuition as easily.

So what can we do about it, and more importantly, why bother?

Let’s start with the why.  When you have turned your passion into work then it’s a good idea to be firing on all cylinders.  You can have the best ideas, great content and be awesome on your feet, yet if you don’t take care of you, your energy, your well-being then you are no use to anyone.

You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

Imagine there are four areas within you:  Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  When these areas are in balance with one another, we feel, and we think we can achieve most things.  It’s great.  However, if we are unintentionally neglecting one or two of these areas then we may notice things start to go adrift.

What can you do?

Have a read and ask yourself: what can I choose to do to provide self care?

Create time for you.
This means time for you, yes you, and no one else.  Do something you enjoy that allows you to switch off from the internal chatter in your head, the thoughts about work, and to do lists.  For some this is exercise, others reading, cooking, a walk, a sudoko, or maybe candy crush!

If the inner voice of guilt creeps in tell it to “Do one!”.  It’s OK to have time for your self care.

Have a holiday.
Hands up who sometimes ‘forgets’ to plan a holiday into their diary!  Scientists have shown that the benefits of taking a holiday continue past the event.  Get that holiday planned!

Eat well.
Consider the food (energy) you choose to put in your body. This is the best self care habit to cultivate.

When training, I used to graze on the biscuits, cakes and sweets, ‘treat’ myself to a big breakfast in a hotel, greedily and happily enjoy the chips with lunch, drink cups of tea and coffee all day.  The consequences of this behaviour? – sugar highs and lows, energy crash, lethargy, and constant cravings.
Now, I have a couple of black coffees first thing, eat a high protein breakfast consisting of eggs, tomatoes, avocado, smoked salmon or sausages or a big bowl of porridge with nuts and dried fruit.  I am a fizzy water addict too (I know there are arguments against it but if this is my daily vice I will take it).

At lunchtime I hit the salads and protein, but I leave the carbs behind.  Yes carbs do fill you up, but the white carbs do nothing for your energy levels.

If you are in a training room get outside before or after the event.  A walk, a jog or a run will do wonders for your endorphins and give you a mental boost as well as a physical one.  Yoga, pilates or a martial art are all great for the body and the mind too.
Check out this article about Forest Baths!  Its about the proven benefits of being in nature.
Reflection time.
I will admit this is one area I am working on as I find it hard.  Time to reflect, meditate, be mindful, or journal.  Much has been written on all these topics and intuitively I know this is right for me.  When I do any of these activities I learn something new, and I find a calmness in self.  The people I most admire in my profession have a daily practise that slows them down, tunes them into themselves and refuels their spiritual and emotional well-being

We all know that being in service of others means we have to be in service to ourselves first.  Keep an eye on you and be a little selfish at times, it’s OK to do that! So get some self care booked in now.

Kirsty Lewis is the founder of The School of Facilitation. 
She is at her best when facilitating, loves connecting people together and has a habit of accumulating and sharing knowledge about facilitation and training.  She loves cooking, skiing, sailing and the gym.

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