It occurs to me as I wake up today, the beginning of another week, that yes, I am absolutely one of the lucky ones. That I have a job to go to. That I have resources and the ability to work from home. That I work in the workplace mental health sector, so I have a self-awareness and permission from my organisation to prioritise my own wellbeing during another lockdown. It also occurs to me how lucky we have been in NSW overall, that we haven’t had a state-wide lockdown in a year and compared to the rest of the world and Melbourne, we have had a pretty solid sense of normal for some time.
It also occurs to me that I already feel mentally exhausted. It has been less than 48 hours of the state being in lockdown, and only one weekend, and I am already depleted. I had a nice weekend too! I slept ok. I ate ok. It isn’t even 8am on Monday!
Then I remember how just last Wednesday I was on a panel for the Workplace Wellness Festival talking about an exhausted workforce. And contributing thoughts and ideas on how we can “jump start” that exhausted population. I think back to that panel and try to dig into my own resources on how I can snap out of this exhaustion, and jump start myself… and if I just… try HARDER and have a green smoothie… and go for a walk… then maybe I can snap myself out of this funk I am in, one working day into a second lockdown when life has been sweet.
THEN I REMEMBER what my contribution was in this panel. Oh yeah, that’s right. YOU CAN’T jump start an exhausted workforce. My tips were….
- Listen to where you are at. Lean into it, go easy, be vulnerable and dare to share this with your team (I bet you’ll find you aren’t the only one).
- As a manager, accept that your team might be functioning at a lower percent, and accept this (for now). We simply can’t operate at 100% when we are experiencing such extreme stress, uncertainty, disconnection and possible isolation (to name a few). Maybe, just maybe, 70% will do.
- If you need a day off, I implore you, TAKE A DAY OFF.
- Find the aspects of your work which build you up, and energise you, and talk to your manager about focusing on these things. Find a balance between the MUST DO’s and the extras that fill your cup at work.
Now, I know… there’s a lot of privilege in this position. It suggests you have a culture in your workplace where being open is accepted. That you are able to work during this lockdown. That you are doing work that allows you to take your foot off the accelerator. I know there are health care workers and other essential workers who are experiencing quite the opposite. Pure and utter exhaustion and the need to go harder during lockdown with no option but to do so. Then there are small business owners who have had to close their doors, yet again, wondering if their business will survive this. I will spare you the platitudes of suggesting meditation and long walks. Zoom calls with loved ones. Bla bla bla. You have been here before. My message to you, is to just hang in there. Do whatever you have to do to get through each day. One foot in front of the other and focus on just surviving. Focus on thriving later. Because I PROMISE. There will be a time where you will thrive.
You can read more COVID 19 resources on the WayAhead Workplaces COVID resources hub here.
Find out more about WayAhead Workplaces including how to become a member here.
wayahead Workplaces program lead
Also published on LinkedIn