Working through the challenges posed by COVID-19 the past few weeks has created considerable upheaval in my career and personal life—more than anything else I can remember in the past 35-plus years. From what I can tell, many of you would say the same. While there are so many facets of life that are beyond our control, there are still many sound practices we can either implement or continue doing. Here are some of the ones that have helped me most the past few weeks, and I hope at least one of them is useful to you, too.
Be concerned, but don’t panic or despair. This is easier said than done some days but still good advice. There’s no magic wand we can wave to stop this pandemic, but eventually it will be over. As wise sages often say, “This, too, shall pass.” And it will.
In the meantime, consider how you can make this a time of growth and learning so you are thriving in spite of the current circumstances. Who do you want to be in the process, and what do you want to achieve? How do you want to see yourself when you look back on this time years from now?
Evaluate your priorities regularly. Consider what you need to do for a given day. Look ahead to the coming week and identify priorities for your business, your family, friends and yourself. Consider the month ahead, too.
You may need to let go of some projects or jobs because of time constraints, or because your stress level is through the roof. That’s OK. As Elsa in Frozen sings, “Let it go, let it go.”
To counter the effects of stress, take breaks frequently. Do some stretching and deep-breathing exercises in-between jobs. I never did them before this, I admit, but I do them now, and they help.
Stay connected with people. Reach out to your clients and let them know you’re open for business and available to help them (if you are). Make sure clients know you care about them and their animals—that they aren’t just a paycheck to you.
Tell clients how you need to work with them, given the pandemic. If there are new protocols and processes you’re using, make those available to clients for review. Keep them up to date on any changes along the way, too.
Give some thought to how you like to communicate—and how your clients like to communicate. You can use teleconferencing, social media and email, of course. But consider whether some of your clients would prefer a phone call.
Along with clients and colleagues, make sure you are talking with family and friends. Whatever you do, don’t isolate. Connect with people who have no vested interest in your career or business. Find a cheerleader or two—those people you can turn to whenever you need a word of encouragement. Be the same for someone else.
Keep yourself healthy. Schedule time during the week to practice self-care, both mentally and physically. Read a book, take the bubble bath, play Trivial Pursuit with friends via Zoom. Whatever self-care means for you, be sure to do it.
If you find yourself sliding into a dark hole mentally that you don’t think you can climb out of, seek help from a friend or call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s free and confidential.
When this strange, painful time is behind us, and it will be, plan a party—maybe even two or three. Celebrate your life and those of others. You are precious—the only you we will ever have in the world. Stay safe out there.