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  • Writer's pictureJeff Raker

Be aware of these two things in a pandemic WFH world

Seriously! I didn't believe it at first. The news report couldn't be true. It had to be a SNL or Babylon Bee spoof. No one would do that. But then the confession. My heart hurts for Toobin's wife and family. But seriously?

While most slip-ups on a video call are not that egregious - and it's always important to remember that what we do in private will eventually be shouted from the rooftops, or projected by video - there are some minor things that can turn into major issues. Here are two big "BE AWARE'S" for leaders:

1 - Be aware of how stressed you are. You may enjoy a work from home schedule and flexibility, but our pandemic led world is keeping us all at a hyper-vigilance level that is mentally and emotionally stressful. When a hurricane hits, we know it's coming; we're aware of the timeline; and we'll be ready to clean up. With a pandemic, it's like the hurricane is stalled over us and we don't know when it'll be over. This keeps our brains in a "ready for action" state, longer than is good for us.

So take care of yourself. Increase self-care. It'll help you be more present during a call. The longer we stay in a "ready for action" state, the more likely it is we'll do something stupid.

2 - Be aware of H.A.L.T. This is an effective acronym from the world of addictions. Any kind of recovery program will help participants be aware of the most likely scenarios that create the conditions to "fall off the wagon" and slip back into addictive behaviors.

Hungry - Angry - Lonely - Tired

Be aware of how you are eating. Fueling your body with the right foods will help you stay in the moment. We instinctively know this but cut down on sugars, reduce the amount of carbs, and don't put off eating before a video call.

Be aware of your emotions - your anger - your depression. Emotional and physical exercise can be so helpful here. A 5-minute deep breathing exercise several times per day, where all you think about is the breathing, can help re-center you to yourself. When you recognize anger or depression or any other emotion, be curious about it rather than condemning. It's just a feeling. Wonder about it in curiosity. I you try to fight it, you will lose every time.

Be aware of your loneliness. This is a tough one in a lock-down situation. This is one reason mental wellness is such a big topic right now. There are strategies to help but you have to choose to do them.

Be aware of how tired you are. Sleep is a magical time for our bodies and minds, literally washing the brain science tells us. When I talk with athletes, I tell them there is a correlation between sleep and injury. Athletes who get 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night have less injuries. So it is with anyone. Sleep helps us be more alert and also helps strengthen boundaries for our behavior, so we don't do so many stupid things.

Be aware. Allow yourself to be a human being with frailties, frustrations; with weaknesses and cracks in your armor. Own who you are, all of you.

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