Self-Care Tips to Help You Care for Others

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self care column

A reader asked: What do you recommend we, as Human Resource leaders, do to stay sane throughout these national and global crises? It is feeling overwhelming.

These are tough times, and Human Resources is being called upon to tackle an entirely new array of people issues. Emotions are often running rampant. 

I recently asked a group of leaders to name the issues they are confronting that are bigger than their organization. In seconds, the group listed: COVID/pandemic, global economic collapse, burnout, low employee engagement, "Me too," cultural racism, Black Lives Matter, environmental issues, student loan debt, and political divide.

Then they listed the things they are grappling with at home: homeschooling kids, college students completing their semesters virtually from home, caring for the sick and or elderly, stocking the pantry, dealing with product shortages, family getting "cabin fever." Both lists are very long. 

As HR professionals, we are dealing with humans forced into adaptive behavior that is stressing, straining, and compromising the big business plans framed for 2020.  Now more than ever, you need to ensure you are powerfully grounding yourself to ensure you can handle the onslaught.

Human resource leadership is a tough role under the most normal of circumstances. Today's challenges mean longer days, increased demands, and a drain on your emotional resources.  How are you taking care of yourself?  Here are several suggestions for self-care:

Physical self–care

The triumvirate of personal self-care includes sleeping well and deeply, eating and drinking with moderation, and exercising regularly.  Sleep responsibly: turn off your electronic devices (those little blue lights are sleep disturbers).  Develop a nightly routine and stick to it – seven nights a week. Don't eat junk food.  Many people graze or snack because it is easy and convenient to do. Again, establish a routine around meals and encourage the entire family to participate.  Get outside – change your scenery

There is even an emerging school of psychotherapy nestled in the out-of-doors: ecotherapy.  The purpose is to gain inspiration, clarity, and peace convening with nature. Try it – Mother Nature's gifts of beaches, streams, mountains, even deserts can be the fresh breath you need.

Friends and family

Gallup's research twenty-five years ago emphasized the importance of having a good friend at work.  Invest time each day in checking in with friends and colleagues – be mindful to create a strategy for reaching out to an array of people.

Now might be a good opportunity even to assemble data (confidentially, of course) on what you learn in these conversations.  Use this time to deepen and broaden your network. You may be quarantined with your immediate family. Be careful not to fall into a routine that ends up sucking the fun out of your tribe.  For example, we have established that Friday nights are movie nights – popcorn included! We have a running list of flicks on the "to watch” list. Remember, too, each member of your family may be struggling with his/her own set of issues. Try to afford each space, privacy and occasion to influence decisions impacting the entire family.


Do you ever get that rumbling feeling in your gut?  It can run the gamut from "heavenly" to outright growling at whatever stimulus is closest to you. The summer getaway grand vacation is canceled. The kids are not going back to school anytime soon. There is no toilet paper at the grocery store.  You keep a lid on it all, and then something snaps in you.  Maybe the dog spills her water across the kitchen floor, or the milk carton in the fridge is empty. Usually, these roll off your back but not so today. When the emotional tremors start rolling, use this formula:  name, claim and air it.

By acknowledging what is bubbling up inside you, labeling it, and sharing it with someone near – you harness the emotion.  You have a far better chance of not letting your emotions run wild over you.  Remember – don't sweat the small stuff (this too will pass).


Let those around you (even if "around" means in your circle of friends and family many miles away) know you are thankful for their role in your life.  The beautiful thing about gratitude is that you feel better expressing it, recipients of your gratitude feel better receiving it, and those around you all can bask in the glow. Thank the delivery people, shelf stockers, or those mowing your lawn.  Use your time and influence to help the world feel your appreciation.

Take stock:

  • What are you dealing with above and beyond this week?
  • Have you mapped out a strategy to deal with the known?
  • Have you included time for yourself in your diary (calendar)?
  • Be careful not to ignore those sitting in the next room. We're in this together – the key is to work as a team and confront those gnarling issues collectively.

You may be thinking:  none of these suggestions are new.  They may not be brand new; however, just stepping back to strategize your approach may be just the breath of fresh air you need to ease your burden.  You are carrying much more than usual.  As Churchill once said, "never let a good crisis go to waste." The key:  take good care of yourself first and foremost so you can care for others.

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