Krisen- & Konfliktmanagement - von der Bedeutung einer Auszeit

Those who know me know that I put a lot of energy, passion, heart and soul into my work helping people in crisis and conflict. When I started my own business, I read a lot of books and listened to a lot of lectures about how being self-employed requires a great deal of discipline. The discipline to work and the discipline to follow through. For me, it’s exactly the other way around. I’m so passionate about what I do that I need the discipline to take a break, to stop what I’m doing, to relax and enjoy some free time.

In addition to my passion for crisis and conflict management, I spend several hours a week volunteering and getting additional training, all while being a palliative care patient, receiving regular life-sustaining treatment, and being in a happy relationship. According to my friends and clients, I seem to have a lot of energy.

I fill my daily life with great gratitude and humility. I am grateful for the trust placed in me, and I feel happy and fulfilled when I’ve been able to help my clients. Of course, sometimes I experience strong emotions in the conflict situations I support and hear harrowing descriptions of situations. This happens almost every day. 

In order to remain effective in such situations, I believe it is absolutely essential to manage your energy. Otherwise, you run out of breath, you can no longer listen actively, it becomes difficult to stay empathic, and eventually the quality of your support dwindles or drops to zero. That’s all, but it’s certainly not healthy or professional. In my view, a good crisis and conflict management consultant also needs a good strategy for resilience and energy.

People often ask me how I do it and what I do to stay strong. I’ve really had to think and reflect on this because I don’t have an easy answer. After all, I don’t feel a lack of energy. Upon closer examination, however, I came up with several aspects, three of which I would like to share with you here. 

All three have one thing in common: they’re a time-out during which I switch off.

Let me explain:

First, it helps to keep reminding myself that the problems I support are not my problems or challenges – I don’t “own” them. Somebody else does. I also keep reminding myself that I have done everything in my power to make things better. But in the end, it’s “theirs,” not “mine.” I feel for them, but I don’t suffer with them. That’s a big difference for me, and it means that I usually don’t take the events and impressions home with me. 

Another way to relax is to pursue one of my hobbies: acting. Whether it’s traditional or improvisational theater. During rehearsals and on stage, I slip into different roles and can’t allow myself to think about anything other than the lines I’ve learned and the play I’m rehearsing. I immerse myself in it. In improv, this is spiced up with a good pinch of humor and lightness, which really takes me out of my everyday life.

And finally, one of my favorite time outs: a week of vacation all by myself. I let myself drift, follow my flow, do only what I want to do, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking about how I can do my travel companion a favor. When I come to a crossroads, sometimes I just follow my intuition about whether to go left or right. 

When I’m alone, it’s easier to get to know the locals and foreign cultures and to get in touch with myself. In fact, I can say that I have much better access to my hidden desires, can process things, clearly outline wishes and goals, and feel even more free beyond potential obligations and commitments.

This incredible feeling of lightness has an intoxicating effect on me. And it lasts.

While last year I spent a week traveling alone in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, this year I will take a winter break in West Greenland. A week of snow and ice as far as the eye can see, not many people, lots of scenery and the fulfillment of some of my personal bucket list dreams: dog sledding, snowmobiling, seeing the northern lights, sleeping in an igloo, and more. No group. Just me. I’ll be inspired, relaxed and spend time with the one person I am inseparable from: myself.

All three options are about taking time out. Time out from mental movies, obligations and looking at the clock. For me, this is pure freedom and lets me recharge my batteries.

The effect? My brain really gets a break because it doesn’t need to think in terms of commitments, tasks, or deadlines. 

For me, vacations have an even greater effect: My subconscious mind gets a chance to speak up, serve as an inner guide, and process impressions and experiences from crisis interventions thoroughly and effortlessly. For me, it’s important to choose destinations where I can immerse myself in nature – which means no city trips. This way, I can let my gaze wander and listen to my inner impulses undisturbed. I also try to choose accommodations that don’t make me feel like I’m on a business trip. 

How do you recharge your batteries? What strategy helps you?

I’d love to hear your feedback.

Go for it, your crisis manager