Did You Prioritize Self-Care in 2020? Build a Resiliency Plan That Will Last in the New Year

Did You Prioritize Self-Care in 2020? Build a Resiliency Plan That Will Last in the New Year

With so much extra time this year spent on adjusting to new workplace concerns and habits, regular routines and activities may have fallen to the wayside. But self-care is more important than ever as employees deal with the lasting mental health effects of the “echo pandemic” sweeping the nation. Now, with the holiday season potentially adding extra stress to an already stressful year, employees may be at risk of burning out.

The key to sustaining work is looking after self-care and encouraging employees to do the same. Some of the ways you practiced self-care previously may not be available to you anymore, and you may need to find ways to reincorporate it into your lifestyle.

If you or your employees struggled to make self-care a priority in 2020, now is the time to build a plan that will last your team well into 2021.

What Can You Do to Support Manager and Employee Self-Care?

1. Be on the lookout for signs of distress in your employees

Use both direct conversations and indirect observations to get visibility into employees’ challenges and concerns. Use every opportunity to make clear to employees that you support and care for them. To facilitate regular conversations between managers and employees, provide managers with guidance on how best to broach sensitive subjects arising from the pandemic or upcoming holidays, including alternative work models, job security and prospects, grief and loss, impact on staffing, and tension in the workplace. It may be beneficial to consider a Manager Mental Health Training Session to gain these skills.

2. Rebuild your resiliency plan

Resiliency, as we have noted during this pandemic, is not about looking at everything with rose-coloured glasses. Optimism is important, but realistic expectations are necessary to bounce back from these challenges. Things do not always go as planned, so it is important to build a flexible resiliency plan.

  • Start small – Making small goals and small steps will lead to lasting changes. Maybe it is a simple mindful walk in the morning or starting a gratitude journal. 
  • Cover your resiliency bases – Look at all areas of resiliency, including physical resiliency, social resiliency, thinking resiliency, emotional resiliency, and spiritual resiliency.
  • Be creative – If the gym isn’t available, can you do your workout in the park? Go online to find a good trainer or regular exercise program. There are many virtual trainers that can support you.
  • Be consistent – Take the small step and do it daily. Habits are best built if you can incorporate the task into something you already do in your routine. If you take the dog for a walk daily, walk for longer, build in some meditation time, or change up the location to include more nature. It will be good for you and your dog.
  • Find a buddy – If you are engaging in a new activity, it is helpful to have support. Find someone who might hold you accountable and attend the sessions with you. “Let’s meet at 4:00pm online and do a Zoom yoga program!” 
  • Schedule it – Put time for self-care in your work schedule. Plan meditation breaks, appointments with your social team, or lunch with a friend in the park. If it is scheduled, you will be more likely to honour the appointment. Try scheduling a daily meditation challenge at the beginning of each day… this helps the whole team schedule self-care together.
  • Honour your self-care time – Self-care is not selfish, so treat your self-care appointment as a permanent appointment that cannot be missed. 
  • Engage your family – If you have littles in your household, plan some self-care with them and without them. 

3. Acknowledge the energy suckers

Acknowledge that being on the computer and having frequent Zoom or other teleconferencing calls can cause fatigue. Try to limit these video calls where possible and find alternative ways for employees to communicate with you and the rest of the team.

Draw a line between home and work to keep technology from interfering in your down time. Some ideas for maintaining technological boundaries include keeping phones and laptops out of the bedroom or other living spaces and closing your laptop at the end of the day to signify the end of work.

Look at your activities for things that can be energizing in between the energy sucker activities. For inspiration, see our self-care challenge with thirty activities for you to try.

4. Promote dialogue about self-care

Two-way communication between managers and peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need and enables them to focus on self-care as an important component of every workday. Acknowledge the expectation of personal self-care as a corporate manager and demonstrate or model self-care behaviours. Find ways as a team to talk about mental health, self-care, and socializing as part of the workday.

5. Increase recognition and make self-care fun

Create fun challenges with your team. A walking challenge, a water-drinking challenge, or a meditation challenge can all be done as a team virtually. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Try Ten Percent Happier for daily meditation.
  • Create a virtual map to track people walking across Canada or to and from head office.
  • Challenge the team to come up with a new self-care activity that everyone can benefit from.
  • Try a 30-day squat, push up, or sit up challenge.
  • Have a laughter fest – who can share the best jokes? (Set rules for appropriateness and keep it clean.)

Effective recognition not only motivates, but also serves as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should emulate. Recognition doesn’t need to be monetary; consider public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, and low-cost perks.

6. Encourage boundaries

It can be hard to set boundaries while working from home, especially with the pressure to maintain productivity and be constantly available. If you are taking vacation over the holidays, the option to check in with work may be tempting. As a manager, demonstrate your ability to set boundaries. This may include some of the ideas in Part 2 of “So You Want to Stay Virtual”:

  • Don’t send emails after working hours.
  • Don’t answer phone calls after working hours.
  • Demonstrate how to effectively say “no” to work outside your normal working hours or typical work responsibilities.
  • Support employees focusing on priorities outside of work, such as eldercare and childcare.
  • Take breaks and lunches.

7. Promote self-care resources

There are many resources within and outside your organization that can be recommended to your employees.

How Can Gowan Consulting Help?

Gowan Consulting has Occupational Therapists across Canada who can support your employees with accommodation assessments, exposure therapy, job coaching services, mental health consultations, and more. Make a referral for employees who require education, tools, and accommodation assessments to stay at work or return to work. Our Occupational Therapists can provide virtual and in-person consultations to fit your needs.

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