"Self-emotional care is critical. You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others"
- Suzanne Braxton Fullwood, A.A.S. , B.S., M.A. - EAP \ Client Executive Optima Health.
The Hampton Roads Chamber welcomed Fullwood as the speaker of the year’s first Power of Women event! Fullwood presented, “Emotional Self-Care; Work/life Balance in a Pandemic” on March 3rd. Suzanne Fullwood has been in the health insurance profession for 33 years. She joined Optima Health in 2007, and she has been in her current position as an EAP Client Executive since June 2017. She is a leading expert on self-emotional care and has seen the growing concern over emotional care for business people during this pandemic.
“We put band-aids on top of things. You have to allow yourself to feel. If you want to cry, cry. If you feel as though you need to scream, go outside and scream,” said Fullwood.
Fullwood explained that our emotions can lead to physical symptoms if they continue to go unchecked. “We need to pay attention to fatigue, shallow breathing, etc. We often put off going to the doctor, but if you go early you might catch something while it is in a manageable state”.
Fullwood suggests meditation or journaling practices. “If we aren’t growing we are being stagnant. Set goals for yourself”.
“One of my ways is I love to sing in the shower. That’s my way of expressing myself. I also like to create jewelry. Think about things outside of the box that you want to do,” said Fullwood. She highly recommends trying that activity you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting off.
Fullwood suggests limiting your interactions with media or situations you know are negative and will put you in a bad headspace. “We soak in what is going on with us, and the people and things around us. Surround yourself with people who are happy and positive. Don’t watch the news at night, don’t go on social media if you know it upsets you,” said Fullwood.
Fullwood suggests repeating positive affirmations or motivational quotes to yourself. She also challenges everyone to take a negative event and try to find a positive that came from it. “Anything that’s negative, look for a positive. The purpose is to find happiness in it”.
“Find hobbies you enjoy. Everybody needs that thing that brings joy,” said Fullwood. She suggests finding something that can be calming and may offer alone time, such as arts and crafts, hiking, etc.
“How many times are you going to let that person talk to you that kind of way? Only you can protect yourself from things that trigger you,” said Fullwood. She spoke of loving people from afar in order to protect your emotional wellbeing.
Fullwood urged everyone to start a gratitude practice that includes things you are grateful to have and things you are grateful to not have in your life.
“LET THINGS GO! You have to let those emotional wounds go. Feel your way through that wound. Take the time to allow yourself to feel but eventually, you have to release it. Forgive that person. Forgive so that you can heal,” said Fullwood.
“Learn how to recognize and manage your emotions. Know your triggers. You cannot react to everything that people say to you,” said Fullwood.
She urges everyone to find a way to get help when going through toug emotional life events. She recommended professional counseling or support groups. “Everyone is going to go through something in their life. There is a stigma about talking to a clinician, but please put that all aside and ask for help if you need it,” said Fullwood.
The Hampton Roads Chamber first started the Power of Women a few years ago to empower females to move up the ladder into top-level jobs. That focus has shifted slightly in this COVID-19 world. When the pandemic hit our region, we focused on economic recovery, business resilience, and getting people back to work. Now we realize we need to do more than that. We need to help workers, especially women, balance their work/life load in this new economy.
Schools are just starting to reopen, but many parents have spent the past 11 months homeschooling their children with virtual classes. You have managed to figure out multiple platforms for distance learning, kept detailed schedules, and managed to keep moving your family and career forward. But at what cost?
The Hampton Roads Chamber is dedicated to setting the conditions for business to succeed. And, right now, that means helping employees succeed.
Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible. We appreciate the support so that we may bring these topical and informative events at no cost to our members.