Is it me or is February the fourteen month of 2020? We have been carrying so much for so long, but even with vaccines being distributed and administered, the pandemic marches on. When does it end? When can we put the burden down? The longer it goes on, the longer we have to push out the deadline for returning to “normal”, the harder it is.
We and everyone around us are continually exhausted. Lisa Kohn tells those in the business world How to Keep Leading When It Starts Getting “Old.” Some of her ideas are not new, but the reminder is helpful as we continue to lead despite the exhaustion.
Keep a Sense of Humor – Laughter is the best medicine is not just a maxim, it’s a fact. It changes the body chemistry for the better. Our need for laughter is possibly one reason for all the jokes and cartoons on Facebook and other social media. Sometimes it’s the black humor reminiscent of the Korean War set sitcom M*A*S*H, but it makes us laugh, and it eases some of the exhaustion. Laughter is also contagious. It brings out the best in other people. Then they can be more light-hearted and able to bring humor and new focus to the situation.
Keep Things in Perspective – Tiredness leads to a mindset focused on negative absolutes. “This is never going to end.” “I will never have my library back again.” “Everybody is too stressed to work with me on a project.” Having these thoughts too often in the course of the day adds to a sense of hopelessness, contributing to exhaustion. The truth is not everything is in bad shape. Which leads to –
Look for What’s Good – Where has the pandemic given you new opportunities? What new contacts have you made? Find things that make you happy. What puts a smile on your face? It can be the smallest thing that helps you to balance out the barrage of negative news. I am sometimes stopped in my tracks while watching a bird find food in the snow. It may take more looking than usual, but the good is there.
Up the Self-Care – We are drained by continual stressful situations that trigger the fight/flight/flee mode. Self-care is an important means of combatting this. If you are having trouble giving yourself the time, you need to restore and rejuvenate (or at least step back a bit), put it on your to-do list. Remember, self-care is emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. Have you tapped into all those areas to ensure you are taking care of yourself? Doing this for yourself will help you notice when those around you need more too.
Connect with Others – However You Can – We are social creatures, and the change and decrease in our interactions has been hard on everyone (even introverts!). Reach out to people professionally and personally. Like self-care, this can be part of your to-do list—something to look forward to. When I started making these calls, I thought I was doing it for them, but I have seen how much it brings to me. Have you noticed how many people are sending good morning messages via social media these days? It’s just one more way to get some of the human connection we need.
Acknowledge It’s Getting Old – No question about it. It’s a case of been there, done that, and have the T-shirt to prove it. Being honest about your feelings strengthens your bonds with others and allows them to be honest about where they may be struggling. Acknowledging the situation reinforces that we are all in this together, and together we will get through it.
Plan for the Future –Planning for the future, even knowing that it will not be the same as what was, is an important and positive act. It is also a part of self-care. Allow yourself see beyond the challenges of the present. It doesn’t matter what the future actually turns out to be. The act of thinking about it gives free rein to ideas that you might be able to incorporate into whatever happens. In the meantime, you will have given yourself the gift of dreaming.
One of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic has been how long it’s lasted coupled with not knowing how much longer it’s going to go on. Adapting and readapting is draining when you don’t know where the finish line is – or it keeps getting moved. Adding some of these ideas to your plans will hopefully help you, your program – and even your family – get through it all a little easier. And a little easier would be a lot welcome.