“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.” ― Steve Maraboli
The spread of COVID-19 has brought dramatic changes upon workplaces around the world. Every day, I’ve been working with my coaching clients to help illuminate the best course of action. While I’ve been sharing a lot of advice on how to lead people remotely and engage in strategic planning, I can’t emphasize the importance of prioritizing your own wellbeing enough. Amid these changing times, all you can be certain of is yourself, and your own ability to respond to the challenges you face. All you can control is how you react to the situations you’re in. And that can make all the difference.
That’s the most pivotal piece of advice I can give my clients right now. Put your wellbeing front and center, and everything else will follow. The less stressed you are, the smarter you’ll think, as a recent Forbes article says, citing David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute. You’ll make better decisions in every aspect of life, from your health to your job. By staying healthy and lowering your stress level, you’ll think more clearly and have more energy, meaning you’ll do things more efficiently, think more creatively, and come up with better solutions to the challenges you face.
Prioritize your own wellbeing and learn how to best manage high-stress situations in order to lead your people through these trying times. Here are some choices that will help you achieve optimal mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
1. Connect with loved ones, friends, and coworkers.
If you’re feeling isolated—a common theme for many of us these days—reach out to those you care about, even if you can’t visit in person. Talk by phone or video chat with relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. Stay connected with coworkers even while working remotely, talking about how you manage the challenges you’re all facing. You’ll remain a strong team by supporting each other with ideas for how to navigate the changes you’re going through.
2. Limit your news consumption.
Watch or read the news at specific times in the day, and then focus on other things. While it’s important to know what’s happening in the world, dwelling on the negative for too long can lead to feelings of hopelessness, not to mention a lot of wasted time. Set a timer, if you need to, so you don’t tune into the news (or social media) for too long.
3. Use a stress-reduction technique.
Try one or more of the following stress-reducing ideas to manage your emotions so stress doesn’t dominate them. You’re bound to experience stress, but it doesn’t have to take over.
- Implement a daily meditation routine to help keep yourself emotionally centered. Be patient—it can take some time to truly quiet your mind and reap the full benefits, although you may start experiencing a calmer state of mind fairly soon.
- Talk through challenges with a mentor or trusted friend. Rather than keeping your feelings bottled up, acknowledge them to someone you trust. Then, discuss how to handle them, seeking input from the other person.
- Keep a journal of how you navigate tough challenges. In moments of stress, you’ll then have clear examples of how you’ve handled other difficult situations.
4. Embrace ritual.
Create a ritual that marks the end of the workday and the beginning of free time. Especially while working from home, it’s vital to stay vigilant about guarding “you” time and family time. At 5 p.m. (or whenever you’ve decided to end your workday on a daily basis), leave your desk and start your ritual, whether it’s making a cup of decaf tea or stepping into the backyard to feel the sun on your face. Your ritual will then start reminding you to leave work behind when 5 o’clock comes around.
5. Eat well.
Try out a new recipe that you’ve been wanting to test out. Have themed dinner nights where the whole family helps cook. Make sure you’re eating balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to boost your immunity and overall wellbeing. Give your body the fuel it needs for optimal mental and physical functioning.
6. Get plenty of sleep.
Now may be the time to indulge in a bit more sleep than usual. If you’ve been pushing yourself to the limits and sacrificing sleep, change that now. Get a full night of sleep—maybe even a little extra now and then.
7. Get moving.
Get your body moving, and your mind and health will both benefit. Go walking or jogging, or get out and go for a hike with the family. Try out a yoga routine, setting aside time each day for it. Do aerobics in the backyard. Play sports with your kids. You’ll find you have more mental clarity and feel better physically when you maintain an active lifestyle. Take breaks during the day to move around and stretch, so you’re not just sitting at a desk for the full day.
Try these ideas out this week, and take note of how they affect your life. Keep doing the things that you know are good for you, even if it takes some discipline. Soon they’ll become habits—things you do without thinking about it. Times of great transformation can be ideal for the creation of new habits. As your world and routine are shaken up, you can introduce new ways of doing things that ultimately make you stronger as a leader, and as a team.