In Part 1 of my Team Wellness in Times of Uncertainty series, I covered the importance of pausing, setting priorities, and the need to address burnout and COVID overwhelm. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, please visit it prior to reading this second article. This post gets into greater detail of a series of antidotes to stress, burnout, and the overwhelming nature of our crazy current times. For your own wellness and the wellbeing of your team, I hope you’ll practice several of these antidotes.
Antidotes to burnout and overwhelm
Rest is the antidote to exhaustion. Getting rest includes sleep as well as taking breaks and just pausing when you are stuck. I would also suggest giving your body a break by fueling it with whole foods, eating mindfully, and drinking plenty of water.
Walk away from the electronics for periods of time during the day, including your phone. Turn off your notifications. Consider taking one day a week away from your electronics completely. Your brain will appreciate the relief from the constant “on” switch.
2. BE MINDFUL
Mindfulness is the antidote to cynicism. Mindfulness practices teach you how to be compassionate with yourself. In fact, some practitioners don’t even separate the two concepts. Mindfulness starts with focusing on your breath and when thoughts come in just to acknowledge it as nothing more than a thought and bring yourself back to the body. There is no judgment.
My mindfulness/compassion journey started with a short practice at the end of yoga. On most days, I do a session of Bodyflow at Les Mills On Demand. Everyone has their own mindfulness journey so the way I practice may not be the way for you. I suggest Sounds True as a good resource for all things Mindfulness related.
3. CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Celebrating accomplishments is the antidote to lack of confidence. Celebrate both small and large accomplishments. Post them in a visible area to remind yourself and your team in times of struggle. This is a positive coping mechanism and is not bragging.
When I coach people, I tell how important these celebrations are to creating courage and resilience. Acknowledge what was hard and note what skills and actions were necessary for success. The next time you’re struggling, just pop the list back open; not only to remind you but also to note the existing skills useful for the existing struggle. With teams, acknowledge each person’s skills and contributions, both big and small.
4. PRACTICE GRATEFULNESS
Gratefulness is the antidote to irritability. Actually, gratefulness is the antidote to many negative feelings. But it works exceptionally well when the next thing you want to do is attack someone. Catch yourself in anger or irritability and first think of what makes you grateful and I suspect your negative emotions will, at least partially, subside.
Don’t get me wrong; this is a hard practice to implement. When I have, I often conclude that the person I am having a real problem with is me. Being grateful reminds me that things could be much worse and changes my attitude quickly.
I recommend opening and ending your day with gratefulness, every day if you can. You can use your calendar to make a note, a journal, a gratitude jar, or just sit in quiet reflection.
5. ACKNOWLEDGE FEELINGS
Acknowledging our feelings is the antidote to emotional drain. Pretty much all the feelings on the feelings wheel are fair game right now. Considering all the change and uncertainty entering our daily lives, it is perfectly normal to feel down. Accept that those feelings are okay and focus your time on a specific useful action.
Sometimes I think people have misinterpreted the concepts around Emotional Intelligence; that somehow, we can keep our emotions out of the workplace. Being able to label feelings in yourself and in others is a great way to help understand past and present actions. Good emotional intelligence is being able to identify and work WITH emotions.
I am no longer amazed at how frequently people in my workshops just wanted to hear that others were feeling the same as them. Learn how to bring these to the surface and process them properly.
6. FOCUS ON AREAS OF CONTROL
Focusing on what you can control is the antidote to feeling helpless or hopeless. There are so many parts of this time that are out of our control. Ask yourself if what you are struggling with is under your control or influence. If so, act. If not, it is useless to waste your energy on it.
We cannot control what COVID-19 is bringing or our leadership’s reaction to it. So, don’t waste time debating it. You can have a socially-interested mindset and wear a mask, limit large gatherings, physically distance, and encourage others to help limit everyone’s exposure to the virus. You can control how you respect others.
Kelly Ethridge has created a great way to look at what is under our control as we face this pandemic. The drawing suggests you can let fear control you, or you can use the current situation for learning and growth. It’s up to you.
Meditation is the antidote to lack of focus. Sitting with yourself, in peaceful and quiet meditation helps your body and mind rest. Meditation helps you reset so you can focus when that’s required. Start with 5 minutes if that’s all you have. Here is one from REI to get you started where you can just watch, sit and breathe. A good meditation just starts with a focus on the breath.
I am an overthinker, so this one is hard for me. My personality is already one which does not like to sit still. That is why, for me, it is even more important to be quiet but also cut myself some slack that it will take time to develop this practice.
8. GO OUTSIDE
Finally, I would argue that GETTING OUTDOORS, when done mindfully, paying attention to the gifts that nature brings us every day, is the antidote to everything. I have this last on the list but it is the most important. Want you, your team, and Earth to be well? Model and suggest getting outdoors to your team and appreciating the gift nature gives us to connect and heal. Hold meetings outside if you can. In many of my wellness workshops I say, “open the front door, not the fridge door” (especially for those newly work-from-home folks).
When I catch myself spinning, I take a step outside and take a big deep breath. When I am able, I go out for a bike ride, or in winter, I snowshoe. The exercise, fresh air, and paying attention to nature around me always calms my mind and I often come back to work exponentially more creative and focused.
Growing into wellness with your team
Over the last two posts, I hope I’ve given you just a few of the many steps you can take to practice team wellness. Wellness is a process, and it starts with taking a pause and noticing what is working and not working. Many are overwhelmed at the changes resulting from the pandemic. Knowing what is most important and focusing on the highest priorities and letting go of others is required to reduce burnout and overwhelm. Having direct conversations and acknowledging the struggle is one of the best places to start as it gets to our humanity and hopefully, some empathy too.
See this difficult time as an opportunity to transform your team to be the vision of what you want it to be. Let’s face it, things were not often working well prior to the pandemic. This could be your team’s chance to become more creative and innovative if you’ll look at the situation as an opportunity rather than a threat. That is what resilience and growth are all about!
For more information or a workshop
If you want to know more about Team Wellness or are interested in offering a workshop for your team, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have workshops on self-care, stress and internal dialogue, just to name a few. I do individual coaching as well and would love to help you grow and a person, partner, or professional.