If there is one lesson the COVID pandemic has taught us, it’s the impact of the individual. Each one of us has the power to either protect or endanger the collective with the choices we make. From wearing masks and practicing hand hygiene to observing social distancing guidelines, the best way to care for each other is to care for ourselves. The same is true within the workplace. A business is only as strong as its individual players – to keep the collective thriving, it’s in the company’s best interest to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of its team members. Here at Cubert, we are in the business of wellness. Therefore, we are constantly asking:
How we can better support our staff in their self-care efforts? How can our employees better support themselves?
At no time does the need for self-care become more apparent than over the holidays. By the end of the year people are often burnt out and exhausted from overextending themselves. The winter season brings more darkness and a spike in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Holiday cheer can emphasize feelings of isolation and despondency for those living on their own. This holiday season will be particularly difficult with the second wave of COVID in full force. Many are being forced to skip traditional family gatherings and trips to stay safe and reduce exposure. Others are simply frustrated by pandemic fatigue. No matter our individual circumstances, Cubert encourages everyone to be hyper-vigilant with their self-care this season.
Here are some ways employees and employers can cultivate stronger self-care over the holidays:
1. Lean into change
After nine months of the pandemic, we are still wrapping our minds around this new way of life. Many are hoping for a return to normalcy, but resisting change only increases feelings of tension and makes adjustment that much harder. Instead of fighting the inevitable, try leaning into the fact that things are not like they used to be. There are certain activities that we can’t do right now and people that we can’t have access to, and that’s okay. Once you lean into these changes, you can grieve your lost expectations and move on to ways you can support your needs in the present moment.
Leaning in means observing and honouring your feelings without judgement. Whether you’re experiencing anxiety, overwhelm, depression, anger, or grief, allow yourself to feel it fully. By granting yourself the space to acknowledge and process hard feelings, you release resistance and open yourself up to possible solutions.
2. Establish your non-negotiables
With most workers transitioning to a work-from-home lifestyle, boundaries are easily forgotten. Part of self-care means establishing non-negotiable limits on how you spend your time and energy. For some, this might mean not checking your phone first thing in the morning. For others, it means a hard cut-off time at the end of the workday. Especially for employees who work with global organizations, the work never stops. Emails will continue rolling in, but it’s perfectly fine to shut off your computer after 6 p.m. Setting and following these non-negotiable boundaries reminds us that we must prioritize our own needs before the needs of others.
3. Stay active and eat mindfully
Physical wellness is a core contributor to self-care. Set aside some time every day to keep your body moving. This can be as simple as a morning or evening walk to get the blood flowing. If you have more specific wellness goals, build yourself a weekly exercise regimen. Take the time you would normally spend commuting to get in a 20- or 30-minute workout. Self-care is about watching what we eat, too. Aside from weight loss, mindful eating helps us maintain a healthy relationship with food and keeps us sharp and alert.
The world is going through a mental-health crisis. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen a drop in happiness, an increase in anxiety, and a polarization of our communities over political issues. Set aside time to drown out the noise of the outside world and focus on yourself. Make an effort to reflect via journaling, mirror-work, or therapy. Ask yourself, when am I at my best? My realest? How can I support my love for self? Self-care is more than diet and exercise – it means holding yourself accountable for your own happiness and wellbeing.
5. Foster a pet
Now is the perfect time to consider getting a foster animal. Work-from-home life provides the flexibility to welcome a new pet into your home. The presence of a furry friend can help alleviate loneliness for those quarantining alone or provide an extra source of joy to beat the holiday blues.
1. Build a culture of care
An employee’s capacity for self-care is closely tied to support – or lack thereof – from their workplace. If the culture is one of perpetual busy-work, stress and punishment, team members will strive to produce above all else (including their own wellbeing). Instead, build a culture of care wherein team members feel encouraged to check in with themselves and report feelings of overwhelm or exhaustion. At Cubert, our people and culture team conducts regular wellbeing check-ins with all employees. By building a genuine rapport with their team members year-round, managers are also able to effectively assess how employees are doing.
2. Set directional performance goals
While hard goals are great for tracking progress, we have found much more success in setting direction-based goals. Direction-based goals emphasize a desired outcome rather than a measurable result and encourage team members to ask questions such as, why am I here? Why am I doing this work every day? How am I evolving as a person and member of this team? Directional performance goals make employees feel that they are a part of the company mission and prompt them to measure self-worth based on effort and intention rather than wins and losses.
3. Encourage work/life balance
Somewhere along the line we equated being “busy” with success. As a result, more and more young people derive their sense of self-worth from how much work they can get done at any given time. To some employers this might sound great. The reality, however, is that this overachiever attitude can lead to employee burnout and general dissatisfaction with company culture. As an employer, it is your job to encourage a healthy work/life balance. Give your team members guardrails for what’s okay. Let them know that they don’t have to answer Slack messages or respond to emails after work hours. Remind them to make use of their vacation days and take time off when necessary. This type of advocacy from administration eliminates the perceived stigma of the lazy worker and reminds employees that you care about their self-care too.
While self-care is an individual responsibility, it is the collective duty of both employees and employers to come together and uphold a care-friendly work culture. By creating healthy and open dialogue about our needs, we can build an atmosphere with the right tools and support to help our fellow human beings operate at their highest capacity.