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COVID and the Caregiver

Being a caregiver is a rewarding and purpose-driven experience. Wholly giving yourself to a mission of empowering others can leave the caregiver, saying, "I don't have time to care for myself." Although selfless acts can change the world around us, the depleting capacity to do so can hinder your heart's work. This is especially true during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has changed the way we care for others, given us new perspectives, and left an indelible mark across various professions. Social distancing has decreased the pretenses of busyness, emphasized the significance of sincere connections, and pushed us to pursue purpose with passion. All the changes have altered our career wellbeing, the contributing and influencing factors that happen in our work that impact our overall health. We don't have lunch with work friends or chats over coffee, midday laughs in the break room, or birthday celebrations at our cubicles. Whew! That's a lot! Fear not, I'll give you five tips to improve, maintain, and create balance in your career wellbeing.

1. Practice Good Stewardship of Your Temple:

Everything in our environment needs nurturing and maintenance to thrive. Our cars need to see the mechanic, plants need nutrient-rich soil, and relationships need attention to mature. Similarly, our physical bodies need nurturing and maintenance or good stewardship. You can be a good steward over your temple by taking body goal-specific vitamins, drinking plenty of water, practicing good sleep hygiene ( stop sugar and caffeine after 3 pm, turn off all screens two hours before bed, sleep in a cool room), turn down the lighting on your computer, don't respond to emails within the first hour of being awake, exercise, meal plan, and eat well. Build-in breaks from the screens in your life, set alarms if you must. Screen fatigue can cause damage to your eyes, migraines, and sleep disturbances.

2. Mind Your Mind:

Our thoughts affect our energy, actions, and self-image. It's highly important to be intentional about what we see and hear because they influence our thoughts. Minding your mind means creating a proactive and reactive plan to protect your mental health. Consider adding these actions to your plan: listening to and reciting affirmations about how you want to show up in the world, practice spiritual meditation in the morning and night, listen to uplifting podcasts, journal daily, plan a monthly staycation (re-create the elements of your favorite vacation spot, at-home spa treatments, etc. ) and most importantly sign out of social media often.

3. Solidify Your Sanity Support System:

Some pre-pandemic relationship challenges would have been resolved by the ability to freely and safely leave home for work and daily needs. However, in quarantine, we are forced to be in close proximity to common relationship challenges of differing opinions and experiences in ways we haven't had to before. This can be a double-edged sword; we are given the opportunity to address issues head-on, but there is no exit ramp for relief in the thick of disagreements and misunderstandings. So, what do we do? We must choose relationships that promote healthy connections, being ever mindful that our relationships and attachments impact our ability to respond to our own needs. We must prioritize genuine friendships that will be a sounding board and support.

4. Recognize Grief and Trauma:

As a global community, we have grieved the loss of how we previously interacted with the world around us. Some of us have lost loved ones, employment, housing, and had our own health impacted. Grief and loss affect our ability to care for ourselves and others. We must recognize signs that our body is sending us that we are not addressing grief and loss. If you are experiencing changes in your eating habits (eating too much or not enough), getting an inadequate amount of sleep (sleeping too much, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, etc.), lost interest in your hobbies and passions (no longer wanting to exercise, finding no interest in the books you once enjoyed, etc.) Or find it hard to get out of bed, you may need to get help to address the symptoms associated with grief and loss. Here are some suggestions to support your mental health: create internal and external mental health boundaries, be clear on what brings you joy and what does not, keep reminders of your progress towards goals posted in your space, and seek respite according to your personal energy fuelers (introvert vs. extrovert).

5. Know Your Signs and Sources:

What electronic device can't you live without? What does that device need to power it? What signs does that device send you when it is low on power? I am sure you can quickly answer these questions. Can you do the same for your source of energy? What do you need to keep going? What signs does your body and brain send you that you need to recharge? These questions are typically harder to answer and implement the revelation that comes from them. If finding time to care for yourself is challenging, please consider the following wisdom. We choose how we show up for others. We can't control, manipulate, or guilt others into believing they should care for us. It's not the responsibility of others to show up in the same way we do. If we find that we care better for ourselves than others do, we have learned the healthy relationship formula.

Written by Jessica Canty, Life and Career Strategist

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