What’s Your Red Light?

What’s your Red Light?

“There’s a red light flashing on the dishwasher”, my husband called from the kitchen.  He’s the domestic god in our house, while I’m out there being Monumental, so I assume he has the answer to everything.  He even resorted to reading the manual – but he couldn’t figure it out.  Finally, after a little Googling, we discovered that the filter was clogged.  A simple solution, easily fixed.  We have a working dishwasher again and in conclusion, he added a reminder to his calendar to clean the filter every month – what a star he is!

This got me thinking about my own ‘red light’ warning.  There may be many reasons for an Assistant’s red light to start flashing, but of course, once the filter is clogged – it’s too late and you may get a short circuit, a flood, or even a machine that just refuses to work anymore.  Sound familiar?  What happens to us is very like the dishwasher.  We load ourselves up every day, press the buttons and expect everything to work every single time.  We don’t think about the grease and bits of broccoli that are getting stuck in the filter on a daily basis – until it’s too late of course.  But all the signs are there if we look for them; a lack of concentration, irritability, lack of sleep, procrastination, task avoidance, a feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control.  By the time the red light starts flashing, we feel as if the world is caving in around us. That’s when we’re at our weakest, so more often than not, our body will turn on the red light way before our brain does.

What happens to me when my ‘filter’ gets clogged?  That’s easy, my shoulders go up, my neck and back go stiff and I spend some very painful days hoping it will go away before I give in and book an appointment with the physiotherapist.  Of course this is closing the stable door after the horse has run away and won the Grand National, meaning that I just wasn’t paying attention to my body.  If we don’t take control of our well-being, it’s all going to grind to a halt.  Spending a few minutes at the end of each day to jot down the urgent things we need to do tomorrow, five-minutes of meditation and deep breathing, taking a regular break from our screens and keyboards, using a sit-to-stand desk, not being the last person in the office every day, and being able to say ‘no’ in the nicest possible way are all very simple tactics that we can use to look after ourselves and keep our filters clear. And never, ever be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t wait till the red light starts flashing – we need to look after ourselves every single day.

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