These are surreal times that we are living in right now. The COVID-19 global health crisis is taking a toll on everyone. Some are personally affected by the virus. Some are on the front lines battling this pandemic. And many of us are charged with ensuring that work continues to move forward for our organizations and those that we serve.
Personally, it hasn’t been easy. I’m grateful that I am able to get work done and find ways to maintain some sense of psychological and emotional balance while ensuring that my team (and all of you!) still feel like someone is there for them. That is invaluable during this time. However, that’s not always the case for many.
Here are a few things to remember for yourself while you’re trying to get through.
Check-in with yourself
It’s ok to not be ok. And it’s easy to stuff those feelings down and tuck them away in order to make sure that others feel cared for. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not helping anyone if you don’t address your own feelings. If you’ve ever taken a plane ride anywhere, what’s the first thing the flight attendants tell you about the oxygen mask? Put the mask over your own face before trying to help your neighbor. If you need a break or help or someone to talk to, seek that help and give yourself room to breathe so you can be of help to others when they need it most.
Stay active and eat well
Taking care of our bodies is essential to supporting our own care. Studies have shown that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can have positive impacts on the brain and its chemistry, relieving stress, improving memory, and lending to a good night’s sleep. Even when we aren’t in times of crisis, physical well-being and mental well-being go hand in hand and are essential to ensuring that you feel some balance. And just because we’re social distancing right now doesn’t mean you have to skip out on physical activity and healthy diet. There are plenty of apps available that can help you get a 30-minute cardio session in or create a culinary masterpiece that will have your taste buds dancing!
Take a break
This is easier said than done if you have a team of people helping you move work forward. If you are a team of one, look for ways to get what you can done and set the expectation with stakeholders that you may be unavailable for a few days just to reset, if you have the luxury of doing so. It’s okay to unplug and not be connected for a period of time to allow yourself room to breathe. In fact, it’s almost a must. You can’t be any good to anyone else if you’re not allowing yourself a little breathing room (see the oxygen analogy under “Check-in with yourself”). I also think it’s extremely important to note here that if you have a team, you need to make sure they have the opportunity to take a break, as well. I cannot stress this enough. This isn't an easy time for any of us. Give them time outside of the weekends to recenter. Insist upon it. Let them take care of themselves, too.
Talk to someone
There are a thousand different ways that publications and journals will tell us to make sure we take care of ourselves during uncertain times. And there will be times when it seems like none of it is working. Reach out and talk to someone. That someone can be a counselor, a best friend, someone in your network, or a support group. If you’re having a hard time coping, acknowledge it and find someone you can safely express your concerns to. Don’t feel like you have to hold it in.
Continuing to operate "business as usual" isn't easy during a crisis. It’s even more difficult when we’re not sure how we’re going to get through it. But it can be done. Take care of yourselves – first and foremost. And then make sure others have what they need to keep moving forward.
To all of those on the front lines and deemed essential during this pandemic - THANK YOU. Your work is not in vain and we're here to support you.