By Sarah Sims
No matter how stressed I get these days, I find myself muttering the same phrase...”everyone is in the same boat”. It seems to center and refocus me when things begin to feel overwhelming. Yes, we might need to wallow occasionally, perhaps enjoy an extra cookie or glass of wine, or if push comes to shove, hide from the family in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace. But at the end of the day, we know we are all in this together and we need to figure out how to thrive in this new environment.
Thriving when your work, home, and children’s school is all in the same location is not easy. With no physical separation, there’s no mental break and that pushes individuals and teams to the brink. We have all read the multitude of resources and quarantine must do’s – set a routine, stay physically active, eat well, drink water, etc. And they are all very valid.
But as we are professionals in an industry where we tend to put others first, self-care can fall even lower on the list of things to handle. When our days are consumed with meetings and conversations around how to keep donors happy, how to keep others engaged, how to communicate in ways others need, it’s very difficult to care for yourself and those immediately around you who depend on you as a manager, a parent, or a teacher.
I don’t proclaim to be an expert in self-care during a crisis. Some days I wonder how I've even made it through this far. But, I would like to share a couple things that have helped me in the last few weeks, and will continue to provide clarity and focus in the months ahead.
Control. As in, let it go. Focus only on the things you can control in your immediate environment. Show up for you family and your team, be a resource, do what you can in the hours allotted to each, and let go of what falls outside of that. We can’t control when we will go back to work, or if the event we have planned will be able to happen, or if there will be the right kind of bread in stock at the grocery store. So let it go. This is the ultimate test for the control freaks of the world (ahem, me). Don’t let the inability to control everything at this moment break you.
Definition. Stop defining yourself, your effectiveness, your productivity, or your happiness by the same measures as we did two months ago. Those measures don’t exist right now. It’s ok if things take longer, aren’t seamless, or don’t go as planned. We have been living in a state of literal chaos for one month. And there are likely many more months to come. Take a step back and redefine expectations based on the new reality. Success, right now, looks very different for ourselves, our teams, and our families.
Grace. My favorite word of late. As in, everyone needs to both give and receive grace right now. Tempers are short, stress levels are high, every aspect of our lives are in flux. But a silver lining in all this may very well be the grace and patience we show each other when times are tough. Our donors have a plethora of grace with us right now – it’s ok if things aren’t perfect. They know we are struggling just the same as they are. Everyone is in the same boat!
When things are rough, try and focus on these three things. A full day of Zoom calls and homeschooling will challenge even the strongest of us, but keep in mind that there’s only so much we can control, success may look very different, and everyone deserves patience and understanding. It will make the days a little easier and a little brighter.
How are you practicing self-care and staying sane right now? We'd love to hear how you're managing life while we all #stayathome.