Self-care for managers during Covid

World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th October.

Adrian Xuereb Archer

By Adrian Xuereb Archer, Marketing Lecturer and Business Tutor

Any person who occupies a management position during this time is brave beyond measure. Expectations and pressures from all sides are like bullets flying from every direction. Unlike battles that last a couple of days, we have been living through this storm for the past seven months. That is why I wanted to dedicate an article to the band of brothers and sisters called managers.

  1.  Let the stress out

After parking my car under a tree, I found it full of pigeon marks. After a litany to the blessed pigeons, I urgently washed my car to prevent stains. Then it hit me. I treat my car better than myself. When I get a stressful day at work, I can get emotional. Like the car, I need to wash my emotions, or they stick for days. When I get angry or want to cry, I sit down for five minutes for some TLC or go for a walk to unwind.

Ask yourself: How can I find five minutes to sit down or walk to release my stress?

2. Become responsible for your wellbeing

A Facebook meme showed a skeleton sitting on a chair. On top it read, ‘Woman waiting for the perfect guy.’ Perfection exists only in heaven, and perhaps those who want perfection might try going there. When I accepted that no one is perfect enough to save me from stress, I was free from feeling angry all the time. The only way I found a sense of well-being is when I took responsibility for it.

Ask yourself: How can I commit to being responsible for my well-being?

3. Plug yourself to a charger

Last August, I burnt out. I got so tired that I lost motivation for any work. That year, I was living life like I was constantly running on a treadmill. I would wake up checking my emails and keep running till I crashed on my bed at night. I thought I had no choice. I was wrong. First, I started to make sure I have enough sleep. Then I reduced time on my mobile and started doing things that give me energy.

Ask yourself: How am I going to reduce the energy thieves of my and do what energises me?

4. Accept what you can’t control

I went to complain to my manager. “I have too much work! Life is uncertain! I don’t have enough people!” His reply was epic: “ I know. I have the same problem, and so does everyone.” I was going mad because I was trying to control things outside my control. When I started to accept what I can’t control and focus on what I can, I calmed down, and my results went up.

Ask yourself: How can I focus on what I have control over and accept what I don’t?

5. Set a morning routine

When I started to spend the first five minutes of the day alone & free from technology, I would see the rest of the day as calm and easy to handle. When I didn’t do it, I would see every rose as a monster trying to eat me. The morning routine allowed me to set the rhythm of my day. Like a muscle, each time I did the morning routine, the stronger I got in setting the rhythm of my life.

Ask yourself: How can I set a morning routine that helps me sets the pace of the day

6. Get help

Would you take on a plumbing, construction or moon landing job if you knew nothing about it? You would engage someone to help you. Then why do most managers try to do everything themselves even if they don’t know all aspects of their job? Unless a manager can ask questions, bounce off ideas, get emotional support, get expert advice and find support from others, they will fall apart.

Ask yourself: Who can I recruit in my support team

7. Be kind

Like you, all decision makers have never experienced this level of uncertainty. Life is changing so fast that yesterday’s decisions are obsolete today. Everyone is fighting a war that we cannot see. Many (which may include you) might be badly suffering this uncertainty. Being compassionate or at least not being angry at others would help make life better for yourself and for everyone.

Ask yourself: Where can I be more empathic with people?

8. Learn to say no

Imagine your boss orders you to run a marathon in one hour or you will lose your job. Would you say yes? Of course not. Many managers complain about receiving impossible expectations and still say yes to them. Policies may be compulsory but accepting them is your choice. Saying no is an essential part of being a manager. Ironically, being skilful at saying no gained me more respect than if I always say yes.

Ask yourself, “Where can I start to skilfully say no?”

9. Pray

In January 2013, I lost my job and broke. It felt like my life came crashing down. As many do, I turned to God. By opening myself to God, I became a better and kinder person. Prayer is not about kneeling down hoping to win the lottery. It is the humble acknowledgement that life is bigger than I am. It is about being open to receiving life more gracefully so I can be a better person and I help others where I can.

Ask yourself, “How can I open myself to grace?”

10. Appreciate yourself

Every day you go out to face a war without training whilst expected to perform. It is ok to feel angry, sad, lost and confused. That is why I ask you to appreciate the effort you are putting in during this traumatic time. The word ‘appreciate’ not only means gratitude but also to increase the value of something. By appreciating yourself, you transform yourself from being a wood of thorns into a beautiful garden.

Say to yourself with all your heart, “Thank You!”