Say NO To Busy: 11 Self Care & Productivity Tips For Funeral ProsFebruary 5th, 2016
The architecture of how we live our lives is badly in need of renovation and repair. What we really value is out of sync with how we live our lives. And the need is urgent for some new blueprints to reconcile the two.
— Arianna Huffington
It goes without saying that everyone in the funeral profession has had intense and quickly immersive experiences with burnout and stress at one point or another.
There isn’t a moment in the day where we feel we shouldn’t be answering emails, texts, calls, posting on Facebook, taking pictures for our Instagram account… the list never ends. (I have a feeling you’re right there with me, reading this, saying “ PREACH!”)
So what do we do about it? Do we continue to busy ourselves with all of our tasks at all hours of the day until we eventually burn out, hate our jobs, quit, or run away? I don’t know about you, but I’m not a quitter and I certainly believe we are in charge of our own futures. So let’s do that together, take charge of our future (and current) situation. There’s two magic words that will help us do that… ready for them?
Don’t stop here and think “no thanks, I’m too busy for that”. Seriously! If you’re thinking that, you’re probably someone who needs self care the most. And don’t get me wrong, I avoided self care for years. I used every excuse in the book to avoid taking care of myself properly. I would tell myself “I don’t have time”, “I don’t need that”, “I can’t afford it”, or the worst offender… “I don’t deserve that”. But the truth is… none of these are true! You CAN afford self care, you DO deserve it, and with all of the grief and emotions you take on everyday, you DEFINITELY need it!
So here we go, 11 productivity and self care tips that any and all funeral professionals should start doing today:
1. Do ONE thing at a time (seriously)
Think about how many alerts, Facebook notifications, emails, and calls you get in an hour. What if you said no to all of those for a set amount of time? Try it: set a timer and ONLY focus on one thing. Resist the urge to open another tab if you’re on the computer, or look at your phone if you’re not. I did it with this blog post and finished it in half the time I usually do… although I did have to stop myself from checking my phone at least 4 times.
2. Consider the 5 senses when creating your work environment
When it comes to using your brain productively and getting sh*t done, think about all 5 senses and set yourself up for success:
- Touch: Is your chair uncomfortable? Buy a cushion or pillow for it. Do you hate the cold, bare floor in your office? Get a fluffy rug. Is it too chilly or hot? Buy a heater or AC unit.
- Taste: Will you be hungry soon? Keep snacks nearby.Thirsty? Keep some tea, coffee and always water (lots of water) around you. It’s all about avoiding distractions and unnecessary trips to the kitchen or breakroom.
- Sight: Are you in a cubicle? Get a tapestry, framed picture of nature, or plant to warm the environment around you. Does your funeral home have a space with windows nearby? Place your desk right by it and open up the window when it’s warm out. Think warmth, sunlight, and nature when creating an eye pleasing space for yourself.
- Smell: You would not believe how much aromatherapy can transform your mood and productivity (many studies agree). Buy an essential oil diffuser for your desk and use scents like lemon, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and peppermint to wake up your senses and put you in a happier mindset
- Sound: Make sure your space is quiet. If you have to close the door, do so. If that’s not available for you, get a great pair of noise cancelling headphones and put on classical or instrumental music. Many studies show that music can help boost your creativity, make repetitive tasks easier, and help you feel grounded throughout the workday. Just remember – no lyrics or loud metal music.
3. Avoid unnecessary communication
Do you ever find yourself in meetings, phone calls and answering emails for most of your day? Avoid that by having a conversation with your co-workers when you’re trying to get something done (like making a Life Tributes memorial video). Ask them to please leave any comments or questions for lunchtime, or until after you’re finished. It’s a super simple and effective trick, trust me!
4. Think big picture
If you have 5 services in the next couple days, there’s a lot of work to be done. But if you plan out your week and use effective to-do lists rather than freaking out (which is easy to do), you’ll find it much easier to be clear-headed and focused. Try these to-do list strategies to help you think big-picture and knock out repetitive tasks quicker.
Now that you have the tools you need to get focused and grounded, hone in on these self care tips…
5. Don’t underestimate the power of touch
According to Psychology Today, touching and being touched stimulates the skin’s pressure receptors, lowering stress hormones and increasing levels of Oxytocin, or the “cuddle” hormone. Massages, or simple touches on the shoulder or hand have a ton of benefits for both the giver and the receiver. After a long day of work, try giving yourself or your partner a 30-second head or foot massage daily, and you’ll notice a huge difference in your relationship.
6. Hug someone at least 8 times a day
One thing I started doing subconsciously when I became really busy is hugging people. I didn’t realize it then, but the simple art of hugging is surprisingly beneficial for your muscles, nervous system, stress levels, communication and even trust. In this article by Mindbodygreen, they suggest giving at least 8 hugs a day. Try it, and you’ll notice a subtle difference in your muscles… and relationships!
7. Practice stillness
I recently started a 30-day challenge for myself, and it’s been working wonders. I light some candles and incense, and set my iPhone timer to 5 minutes, and for the next 5 minutes, I enjoy the peace of stillness. I’m not strict on what I do during these 5 minutes, as long as I am still and trying to focus on my breath. It’s a really great trick for dipping your toes into mindfulness, or being completely present in the moment. After only 15 days, I’m already feeling the effects of it. I look forward to this 5 minutes of daily peace I promise to myself, no matter what.
8. Do some gentle or restorative yoga
Sure, as a funeral professional, your schedule may not allow for a regular yoga practice. But what if you practiced 10 minutes of gentle yoga in your room before bed or first thing in the morning? If you’re short on time but want to do some poses that pack a powerful punch on your nervous system, brain function, memory, focus, mood and physical well being, try one of these poses:
- Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose – This is arguably the most powerful pose in yoga. It relieves anxiety, digestive problems, blood pressure issues, depression, insomnia, migraines, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and most other ailments.
- Child’s Pose – calms the brain and helps relieve fatigue, relieves back and neck pain.
- Cat/Cow Pose – stretches the hips, spine, abdomen, stimulates digestive organs.
- Head-to-Knee Forward Bend – stimulates liver and kidneys, stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings and groins, calms the brain and relieves mild depression.
9. Just breathe
Yep, just like your favorite Pearl Jam song, just breathe. Start by trying this exercise: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the top of your inhale for 4 seconds, then exhale for 4 seconds. Try to focus on making your inhales and exhales symmetrical, and smooth. By doing this simple exercise once, your mind will feel calm, you’ll feel rejuvenated, clear, light and happy. I tried this exercise with my mother who suffers from terribly high blood pressure, and in 2 minutes her blood pressure dropped from 200 to 100. Try it yourself, or one of these 5 breathing techniques.
10. Digitally detox after 8pm
Many studies have shown that using your phone or tablet before bed affects your melatonin levels and REM cycles, making it harder for you to fall asleep – and get deep sleep. Try turning your phone off (and keeping it away from you) after 8pm and you’ll find it a little easier to chase away all your to-do lists and get a good night’s sleep.
11. Lower the lights after the sun sets
Along with using your phone before bed, exposing yourself to bright lights before bed messed up your circadian rhythm or your “body clock”. According to Psychology Today, it’s “a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and regulates many other physiological processes”.
This clock is affected by things like sunlight and temperature, and when we disrupt it, our bodies and minds can go haywire and have many adverse health effects. Use of artificial light confuses our bodies into thinking that it’s not time to go to bed yet, so try and keep the lights warm and dim after the sun sets. By doing this, you’ll let your body know that it’s time to go to sleep soon, and have an easier time falling asleep at night (which after a long day, we know that’s just what you want).
Ahhh, now it’s time to relax
Now treat yourself to a cup of tea, sit back and get some genuine rest. You deserve it. Also, tell us what other self care and productivity tips you live by in the comments below!