Managers and workers all over the nation are dealing with new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While work went on for essential businesses, and many others gear up to open their doors again, work is not quite going on ‘as usual’ during this time.
Working in a warehouse or office during this crisis presents challenges, and stress can build if managers and those in leadership positions aren’t taking care of themselves.
Managers should be aware of warning signs of excessive stress, develop self-care strategies to battle it, and restructure their work lives to avoid it in the future.
How To Know You Need Self-Care
Excessive stress always lingers as an effect of overwork. During this time of COVID-19, managers of essential businesses find themselves faced with new challenges beyond the usual concerns of keeping a business running. Employee health, safe distances, supply challenges, lack of control in this trying time – they can all add to the already-existing stress of managing a business.
For businesses deemed non-essential, the stress begins with the fact that their storefronts are closed, difficult staffing decisions need to be made and the overall business strategy has had to be pivoted to suit customers. Coming out of this crisis, business owners and managers will have to make stressful decisions about reopening, restaffing and reconsidering business models.
Job burnout is not a medical diagnosis but a physical and emotional one. Burnout is a level of exhaustion that might be related to depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.
One way to combat burnout is to recognize it. Here is a list some symptoms to look out for:
- Are you suddenly disillusioned about your job?
- Are you troubled by physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach problems?
- Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or mask emotional pain?
- Do you find it difficult to concentrate?
- Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
- Do your achievements leave you unsatisfied?
- Have you become cynical or critical at work?
- Have you become irritable or impatient with employees, customers or clients?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Is it difficult for you to get to work or to get started?
Once you identify you may be on the edge of burnout, identify the factors that led you there. Mercer suggests you start by reflecting on the timeline of stress events. When did you notice your stress levels starting to rise? What was going on at work and outside of work? Is this the first time you’ve experienced this feeling, or have you been here before? Your goal at this point is to learn from this episode and gain insights to prevent future stress points.
For now, you need to attack this downturn by turning to a system of self-care, which will benefit you, your management skills and, ultimately, your business and employees.
How Top Managers Practice Self-Care
Self-care for managers is always important and is even more vital during times of crisis. While some businesses are mandated to work from home, essential businesses remain open, which creates new stresses for managers.
Take time to minimize the stress from work and to detach when the workday – or workweek – is over. From Harvard Business Review and Forbes magazine, here are some ideas to keep work at bay for your own mental health.
Protect your time at work
- Be strategic with what you agree to do. Sometimes, you don’t have the time or capacity to take on a new task. Don’t be afraid to say “No” – or at least, “Not right now.”
- Don’t get trapped by perfectionism. That’s not to say settle for “good enough,” but to realize that you can stress out by seeking the unattainable. Be wise.
- Watch your time. Make sure you work wisely by setting time limits for tasks and meetings. Don’t let the requirements of the day overwhelm you.
- Lighten your load. Delegate when you can, and set a new deadline when you can’t. Don’t strain yourself when there are other options available.
- Manage your energy levels. Don’t run yourself ragged. Be sure to stop for lunch, for coffee, and for just a mental break.
- Skip unnecessary meetings. Meeting after meeting can be a strain on your time. Make sure you’re really needed at a meeting before attending.
Take a break from work
- Escape the stress. Pause during the day to just breathe and stop thinking about work, if just for a few minutes.
- Get outside. Something as simple as taking a short walk to lunch or a stroll around the building can feel refreshing.
- Take a mental health day. If the stress is building up, a one-day break can do wonders for your sanity.
Protect your time at home
- Disconnect from work. This is a tough one in our connected age. Of course, there will be emergencies that require your virtual presence, but get out of the habit of checking in – by email or other connection apps – all the time.
- Exercise. It can be as rigorous as you want. A short run or bike ride, exercising on equipment at home, or even a low-impact exercise like walking the dog can help your health.
- Reflect on your day. Spend some time going over what you did today, what you can learn from it – and then leave it behind.
- Set boundaries. When work ends, do all you can to remove yourself from it. Make sure you’re devoting your off hours to family and friends.
- Sleep. Seven hours a night is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even if you don’t hit that goal, ensure a good rest by limiting caffeine later in the day and removing tech (laptop, phone) from your bed space.
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How to Keep Self-Care Going
Once you get into the habit of practicing self-care, don’t abandon it when the COVID-19 starts to decline. Self-care is important at all times to manage stress. From Harvard Business Review, here are some ways to continue practicing self-care.
- Focus on your physical health. Now that you’ve started thinking about exercise and sleep, don’t stop now. Remember to eat right, too.
- Remember your mental health, too. Weigh your emotional response to the challenges of work and life. Find the balance that will ease the stress.
- Rethink your approach to your job. Change some of your work habits, building in more time to think instead of going from task to task.
- Take a holistic approach. Don’t forget the spiritual part of life. However you connect to the spiritual, remember it can provide a sense of meaning, purpose and coherence in your life.
By refocusing your life and work, you can get control of the stress. That will make you a better manager, worker and leader.
Connect With Us for Essential Staffing
How do you deal with changing business conditions? How do you support your team in uncertain times? Watch our webinar, “How to Support Yourself, Your Team and Your Business in this Time of Crisis.“
If you’re an essential business that needs quality staff, reach out to TERRA Staffing Group today.
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