I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted.
I feel an uncomfortable deep-down, brewing anger that I long thought I had packed away.
I worry about this because I have to work hard at managing my anger, and I am afraid of what might happen if I bump into some idiot somewhere that triggers it.
Pandemic fatigue is real.
And many of us are feeling it. Exhaustion, emotional irritability, loss of resolve and determination, polarising emotional responses, and stress-induced incidents even if you don’t know it.
These are all symptoms of what we are calling ‘pandemic fatigue.’
It’s been a long almost 18 months since the pandemic became a fixture in our vocabulary and thoughts.
The first wave was met with actionable pivots, determination, and heightened resolve.
But, successive waves have worn us down and impacted all levels of an organization.
Leaders are dealing with the pandemic, trying to be united at work, rallying the team as one, and feeling like we need to be ‘on’ and show up as determined we did during the first wave.
As leaders, we are seen as the stability, the voice of reason, the person with answers to questions. Even the organizations and people who seem just fine are experiencing ’emotional amputation’ or ‘an endless wait.’
The whole world is exhausted, tired and drained. And so are you.
Sentiments like ‘we’re all in this together’ have lost their meaning and are proving to be annoyingly tedious. We are all experiencing the pandemic differently right now.
At first, the unknown, the unprecedented, unified a nation, a country, a world. Now that governments are dealing with the virus and vaccine at different stages and levels of severity, it’s hard to think outside our little bubble.
Our attentions have turned inwards, and now we are focusing on how we’re feeling.
To effectively lead our teams through these times, leaders must re-examine their emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is our ability to bounce back after a setback, our strength under pressure and how we fair in the face of a challenge.
Our adrenalin reserves are depleted after months of over-exertion and overuse of ‘it’s okay, we’re fine, everything is fine.
We’re exhausted after the go, go, go of pivoting, adapting and re-adapting time and time again and, of course, from the unknown.
So, how can you lead your exhausted team from a place of resilience and strength?
1. Daily check-ins – start or continue morning catchups with your team to check in on how they were feeling by asking them to share where they rate on a scale of 1 to 10.
These check-ins provide a daily insight into the team’s and individual’s mental wellbeing. Where team members shared consecutive lower ratings, opened the conversation, LISTEN and worked out ways to support the team member in any way possible to help them return to a more positive state of wellbeing.
2. Daily gratitude – Alongside our daily check-ins, we have also implemented daily gratitude, focus on the day/week or a share. This helps remind the team of the bigger things they are grateful for instead of becoming bogged down in negative feelings.
It lifts the mood and gains an insight into each other’s lives and feelings. A focus can be work-related or personal, as with a share. These open and honest conversations lift spirits and put the team in a positive and healthy mindset to start their day.
3. Stop working! Encourage the team to take a vacation so that their health and wellbeing are optimal as we continue moving through phases of our external world, inner world, and work world.
4. Mix it up at lunch – Encourage healthy eating and exercise. Encourage team members to walk and pick up lunch orders, then sit and enjoy lunch breaks together. This allows sharing—weather permitting, try and get outside.
As a leader, you are responsible for the health and wellbeing of your team.
However, as a leader, there are several things you can be doing for yourself (and should be doing) that will help you show up, be more present and fight fatigue as we endure this seemingly long haul to the finish line together.