Over the past few weeks I’ve undertaken a more senior HR management role while the person who normally does the work has been on leave.  While another employee was then acting up into my usual position, being physically close to my own office I found myself regularly assisting with tasks and attending meetings in support of my normal functions, as well as doing the work in the relieved role.

It wasn’t until this past week when I had three separate people tell me that I was ‘looking stressed’ that I realised that the pressures of the more senior role, plus assisting in my normal role, were taking their toll on me.  It wasn’t that I was struggling to sleep (although this is often a sign of stress), and it wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying the challenges of the relieved role (although I would be lying if I said it was fun), but if I look back there were tell tale signs and symptoms.

What others saw I began to see myself once prompted (a gaunt appearance, accelerated pace in dealing with incoming work, and complaints of a lack of attention to individual staff needs), but there were also other internal or personal signs as well that I was ignoring (dry eyes and reduced ability to visually focus, skipping lunch, working excessive hours, and finding a good portion of the weekends spent physically exhausted and recovering ready for the next week).

It’s easy in this outcome driven and ever changing business environment to find ourselves overwhelmed, and whether we notice it ourselves or it takes someone else to point it out, it’s important to take stock and make adjustments.

So this coming week, as I finish up in the relieving role and take time to engage and hand back management of some difficult situations, I will monitor the pace of my work, take time to engage with staff, eat better, take breaks more, and cut the excessive hours down.  This is not to say that there won’t be the occasional longer day or competing priorities that need to be juggled, but by being mindful and purposeful I will be able to better monitor my own wellbeing.

Part of this change is also ensuring I see my day through grounded in prayer.  This doesn’t mean shutting my door and closing my eyes (although on occasions it might), but it means being mindful of the pressures of the work day, and purposeful in talking with God as I progress through the day.  Even if I don’t feel I have the time to stop and listen, he listens to me and I know he provides the necessary strength and perseverance to meet the demands of a busy day.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew: Chapter 11, Verse 8).  Is this something you need to do?  It’s certainly something I need to remind myself of, daily.