• Andrea Spyros

Becoming Your Own First Responder

How this Pandemic is Helping us Re-Connect with Self-Care

If there is anything positive that is coming out of this pandemic, it’s our relationship to self-care. Virtually overnight we went from ignoring our symptoms of getting sick to being acutely aware of them. A pre-pandemic workplace would be full of people circulating germs around the environment without thought. Today we are more cautious about avoiding unseen imposters floating through the air.

Going to work sick is something we’re all guilty of. No one wants to use their vacation hours to lay at home with a fever. Often we rationalize that the backlash of missing 2 days of work will just mean more chaos when we return and it’s not worth it. We are a society of over-workers. Pushing through a cold at work is looked at as a badge of honor. It shows your dedication to your job. Where if you stayed home you know the team would be short-staffed and irritated with you for not showing up.

On the other hand, we’ve all worked with someone who came in sick and made the workday more stressful. Not only were they spreading germs around the whole place, but everyone has to work around them cautiously trying to not touch them or ask for anything, worrying if you’re going to catch it and how it will affect your family. Ultimately it may make more work for you and risk more people getting sick because of it. It’s frustrating.

This pandemic is helping us re-connect to what a healthy boundary looks like.

In the past, people would...

  • Deny they were sick

  • Power through it

  • Stock up on tissue and tea

  • Go about business as usual.

Today people are getting to know themselves. Noticing the first signs of a cold so they can focus on wellness. Get to know your own early symptoms so you can adjust and prepare.

Be Your Own First Responder

Self-care in this situation is figuring out what your own first responder tools are. Create space to repair your body. Make room for rest. Take everything off your plate. My go-to tool is to get in bed. Rest is the best medicine is my mantra.

It’s about investing in yourself and experiencing yourself as someone who values themselves. It also invests in and respects others because they aren’t getting sick. It shows trust in allowing things to wait or letting other people rise.

Notice what symptoms you first notice before getting sick. For me it’s a headache, I never get them so if I do I know I’m getting sick. I adapt to heal. I get in bed and rest at the first sign of a headache. However, I have a policy to show up if I have a paid gig or if my children need to get home from school. It doesn’t matter if I’m sick or not, but I can shut down my weekly to-do’s and focus on healing so that I know I will deliver the value attached to who I am.

It’s about managing what is an emergency and what can wait. The truth is there are very few real emergencies. In my previous business, Handmade Galleries LA, a landmark gift shop in Los Angeles, we’d say: There are no gift emergencies. While at the moment it may seem otherwise, this is a justification lie to keep you from taking care of yourself. Things really can wait. Let this be an opportunity to allow family or co-workers to take on new roles and responsibilities. Let this be an opportunity for you to show up for yourself in a wholly new way.

When you take a pause in your life and schedule self-care you are...

1. Caring for yourself

2. Caring for your community

3. Investing in your future.

Let’s face it, no one does their best work when they’re sick, no one does a ton of work when they are sick. It might be a short investment of rest for a week of productivity that wouldn’t have been there if you had powered through.

I canceled three days of life to rest so I could show up ready for the people who mattered. Ultimately, I gained weeks of my life as others who didn’t rest were saddled with a terrible cold for three weeks!

If you can’t cancel, then it’s adjusting your schedule to be able to pull yourself together for an hour or whatever it is while still making room for rest. It’s an important shift for people to make because we can’t run on empty. We don’t want to model that for our families.

Input-output theory

This pandemic is helping new leaders to rise. Showing us what a healthy workplace construct should look like. It gives people permission to take care of themselves. New leaders understand you are going to be more productive and fewer people will get sick.

When an organization leads in this way their people are more likely to produce more. When they know that they are being respected for respecting themselves they respect you more. It’s a major shift, but one that is taking place. A shift that shows that trusting others helps us all to rise up. I show you respect, you show respect to the organization, home, etc. In addition, employees will contribute to the degree that they feel they are owed. When they feel valued they give more, where they feel taken advantage of they give less or very little.

Creating a Tiny Habits® Recipe will help simplify the process of becoming your own first responder.

  • When I notice I am not feeling well I will sit down and take 3 deep breaths.

  • After I notice fatigue I will take one task off my to-do list for the day

  • After I find myself feeling guilty, I will remind myself that caring for myself is an investment in my future.

This is huge for people. I have seen proof that this is true so it’s easy. My throat tickles and I go to bed. I wake up. I’m all better. Crisis avoided.

Covid has changed us. Before people didn’t have enough motivation to keep themselves and others safe. It was frowned upon. Working long and hard was expected, but that shift has changed. Now we aren’t working with a cold. The barriers have changed.

Employers had this lack of trust. Like how does work get done without my boss breathing down my neck? The pandemic has shown us that a lot can get done without our boss dictating our every move. In fact, many have reported an increase in productivity with staff working from home. Ultimately, if an employee is only motivated by fear, they are not a fit. But more importantly, valued employees placed into fear simply cannot do their best work.

So where do we go from here? I see us continuing this path of trust as we silo into the future isolated. With over 700,000 dead from COVID in the US alone, we are learning to trust each other’s boundaries as self-care has become essential. Past are the days of going to work sick. Now, more than ever is our time to care for ourselves so that we are able to give.

Having trouble offering yourself some self-care? Reach out. Together we can find Tiny Habit Recipes that work for you.

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