Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.
Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.
She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”
Can you relate?
After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.
Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.
When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.
Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.
And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.
Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.
After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.
Claire wants to do better.
I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.
She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”
I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.
- Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
- She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
- She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.
Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)
- Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
- Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
- She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.
- Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
- She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
- She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.
This is the time to double down on our self-care.
In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.
If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.