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Self-Care is Not Selfish

If there is one take-away about self-care from Thursday’s Coach’s Corner with Jenny McCauley, it’s this: Your body keeps score. And, your body always wins.”

Jenny McCauley is SVP of Administration at Southwestern Energy. About a year ago, she nearly died from a ruptured stomach ulcer. Worst of all, this near-fatal event was preventable.

Just thinking about her near-death experience, and the looks on the faces of her family, “I say to myself, how dare you do that to them because of your choices!”

So, what were the signs this high-powered executive chose to ignore?

  • Weight gain.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Emotional roller coasters.
  • Struggling through each day.
  • Going through the motions, but no longer connecting with people.

“Life is stressful. Not just work…life can be stressful.”

But, says Jenny, “You cannot rationalize away your emotions, feelings or physical condition.” When you do, you end up….

  • Doubled over in excruciating pain on a dance floor at a charity gala on a Friday night.
  • Rushing to a trauma hospital.
  • Having an 8-inch chest tube inserted – – – without anesthesia.
  • Undergoing emergency surgery.
  • In an intensive care unit.
  • With a family member answering all sorts of questions on your behalf because he is the executor of your will and your medical power of attorney.

Journey to self-care

Sound like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Chicago Med? It’s not. It is Jenny McCauley’s pivotal SHIFT into a life where she prioritizes mindful, purposeful, self-care. She was happy to share her story with a jam-packed auditorium and online community that broke previous attendance records.

“Let me be your example. You don’t have to go through what I went through to learn how important your overall well-being is.”

Even Jenny’s boss recognized how serious her health crisis was before she was willing to acknowledge it.

While lying in her hospital bed two days post-op, her boss came to visit. While she insisted on talking about her upcoming board of director’s presentation, he insisted on taking away her work phone.

Letting go of responsibility isn’t easy, but Jenny now has a scar from the top of her bra-line down to her belly button that serves as her daily reminder. Her body is keeping score and she has to set boundaries for herself to be mindful of self-care. Otherwise, she is destined to fall back into her old ways. Something she calls, the “rinse-repeat-cycle.”

“You have to listen to your body and recognize the triggers.”

Jenny says our bodies send us signals constantly, especially when we overload our plates. “We need to listen to those messages at work and at home in order to be our best selves.”

Downtime is a biggie.

“It isn’t the same for everyone,” Jenny says. “For some people it’s walking. For others, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or just talking to a friend.” The point she’s making is, we all have to define our own downtime, then commit to it.

Southwestern Energy has made a commitment, too, for the health, safety and welfare of its workforce. As Coach’s Corner was livestreaming on-site at the company’s Spring, Texas location, free biometric screenings were going on for all company employees.

These screenings are a state-of-the union of our bodies, so-to-speak, and can give us valuable health information. “In at least two cases over the years,” says Jenny, “These screenings were literal life-savers.” Based on the immediate results, EMT’s rushed two SWN employees directly to emergency rooms for life-saving medical procedures.

SWN’s mission is to provide clean, sustainable, green energy that powers our world through a Formula. Part of that Formula is to utilize the right people doing the right thing and going beyond what is expected. But, it also means taking a step back, when necessary, in order to be able to step forward.

As both an employee and a boss, Jenny understands the tightrope walked on the job. Productivity and financial success, personal and professional, go hand-in-hand. But she believes very strongly that personal well-being needs to be part of the Formula, too.

“If I’m leading a team, it’s my bad day, not theirs.”

Jenny says, “I need to take care of myself in order to be my best, and most authentic self, at work and at home.”

She says it’s high time we all do the same.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Wellbeing & Self Care, Storytelling & Personal Branding

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