It is amazing to reflect on how much life has changed since mid-March. We all went into 2020 with high hopes and had no inkling of the need to wear masks and social distance. We now know that these precautions are necessary to keep those around us safe.
It is difficult to constantly live within these restrictions and increased protocols. Many of us are experiencing COVID fatigue. We are stressed by not being able to enjoy simple things we took for granted. We also feel guilty because the sacrifices we are being asked to make pales in comparison to what our parents and grandparents needed to do during times of depressions and wars. We miss not having human touch—shaking a hand, giving an encouraging hug, or even worse, holding someone’s hand when they so desperately need our support.
When you are an owner, there is an added layer of complexity. Despite feeling anxious about the state of the world, you must always be positive for your patients and staff. When a patient asks how things are, you cannot tell the truth. You must put on a brave face and while it is necessary, it is also incredibly exhausting and takes a toll.
While the word “self-care” these days is associated with social media posts of face mask rituals, inspirational quotes and the like, the reality is that self-care for owners and leaders during uncertain times is so critical to our health, both physically and mentally. You can only look after your family, staff and patients if you are looking after yourself!!
Like you, I am looking for strategies to ride out the storm with my sanity in tact. We all need a plan to build and sustain our resilience.
• I focus first on being mindful of time. Time has always been a precious commodity. Since March many of us feel we are caught in a time warp or living through the plot of a sci-fi novel. We seem to be constantly putting out small fires on a regular basis and wonder at the end of the day—where did all the time go?
I challenge you to try this little exercise (it takes time but its worth it). Create a table with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and 16 rows (for each hour that you’re awake). For a week, write down what you did for each hour so you’ll have a clear idea of how you spent your time. You can make adjustments later on. Being more focussed on how you spend your time, allows you to have more control during a pandemic that doesn’t allow us to feel any control.
• It is critical to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. By now, we are all Zoomed or webinared out. I know for myself, the last thing I want to do is spend time on another call. However, many are feeling apprehensive about eating in restaurants, etc. so how are we engaging socially? It is so easy to let the absence of social physicality create self-isolation. We may see patients or clients, or chat for a few minutes to a salesperson but these encounters cannot replace the physical and one-on-one social interaction we have with our friends. A good old-fashioned phone call is a huge boost not only for the other person on the other line but for you as well.
• I recently read an article, written by leadership mentor Michael Hyatt, who suggested we identify our “Weekly Big Three”. Hyatt states the “Weekly Big Three” are your weekly achievements that will move the needle on your major life goals.
In the context of the pandemic, you identify in your working environment the three big tasks you should do for the entire week. The intention is to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed by your to-do list at your practice or office. Your weekly big three can range from learning how to use Instagram to cleaning out your email inbox. And if all you can do is a “Weekly Big One”, that is completely fine too.
• Personally the pandemic has made me stop and think about how I spend my time unrelated to business. It is easy to allow ourselves to become defined by our work but now, more than ever, developing a hobby or pursuing an activity outside of your practice or business can prove to be an excellent release of stress. There are so many facets to us and we must not feel guilty for taking time for non work-related interests. It’s absolutely fine to have unproductive hobbies or indulge in reality-based television.
• Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. Our egos and pride can unfortunately get in the way. Asking for help is one of the critical things you can do to keep yourself sane and well during these unsettling times as a practice owner.
It truly is important to look after yourself and others during this incredibly crazy time. No one really knows how long the precautions and restrictions will be in place or how long the recovery process will take. However, your practice will come through this pandemic if you look after its greatest asset—YOU. If you are proactive in looking after yourself and others, you will feel more relaxed, focused and have a renewed sense of purpose for not only surviving but managing the pandemic successfully.
Jackie Joachim is Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-764-2020.