How are you feeling today? How are you caring for yourself and for the people entrusted to your care? You don’t need me to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a variety of unprecedented health-related, financial, and emotional difficulties. There were enough stressors and anxiety before the pandemic, but fear and anxiety about the virus and what might happen are being multiplied several times over.
As a leader, amid the stress, you are expected to assist people to find some normalcy.
Lead with Courage & Compassion
Here are some things to keep in mind as you lead with courage and compassion:
- Personal stress is created by feeling disconnected and isolated, as well as by a fear of getting sick during the pandemic.
- Financial stress is driven from a loss of income due to reduced hours or being laid off from work, as well as from not receiving offerings on Sunday mornings.
- Family stress is generated by the need to balance learning how to work at home while caring for children 24 hours a day, assisting with educational needs and household responsibilities, as well as trying to go back to work while the children are at home.
- Cultural stress is fueled by a concern over the changes occurring in local communities and as well as in the church. Will our favorite restaurants survive the pandemic? Will I be able to return to my gym? Will my church bounce back from the financial hardships created by the pandemic?
- Cumulative stress encompasses all the above as well as social media and other media experiences.
Acknowledge Current Reality
Keep in mind, whether real or perceived, these stressors can make living through the time of a pandemic a traumatic event. Your awareness of these stressors will help you respond appropriately to the actions and reactions of the people around you.
As a leader, as well as for yourself personally, it’s important that you keep yourself healthy. When you are healthy, you are more self-aware and better able to respond with care and compassion. During these uncertain times, you have the opportunity to model for others as you care for yourself. Here are some things to keep in mind for your own health.
Focus on What You Can Control
During times of uncertainty, you might feel you have no control over what is happening. Keep focused upon the things you can control. Things like:
- Having a positive attitude.
- Following CDC health recommendations.
- Washing your hands
- Wearing a mask
- Maintaining social distancing practices in your daily life.
- Turning off the news before it increases your level of stress and anxiety.
- Limiting your social media consumption.
- Acting with kindness and grace (be Christian)
- Having fun and experiencing joy
- Focusing your energy on these items instead of factors that are out of your control will help you regain a sense of empowerment.
Encourage the People Entrusted to Your Care
As a leader, your to-do list is already long. Consider how you might incorporate one of the following in your daily or weekly rhythm as a way to encourage the people entrusted to your care. These things will help people shift their focus from themselves to the people they love and care for.
- Start each day with a reflection of thankfulness. It will help you stay aware of the good things that are happening in your life during the pandemic. Use the Read, Reflect, Respond, Return pattern.
Establish a Routine
- The pandemic has disrupted most daily routines and has made it harder to remain productive. Setting a routine is important. It is not too late to set one. It will take some initiative, but once you have started, stick with it as much as you can. Allow yourself flexibility to adjust as needed based on things that come up during your day. This will help you stay productive, even if your productivity level doesn’t remain consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
Give Yourself A Break
- Literally, breaks are a way to help be more productive. Active breaks continue to stimulate your brain. They also help you stay focused when you are tired or losing interest in what you are doing.
- Times of high stress and anxiety can negatively impact your motivation to be active. Brief physical exercise can boost your energy, stimulate your thinking, and lower your emotional stress levels.
- Social distancing can make you feel more disconnected to the people in your life. Look for ways to stay connected to friends and family. It is just as important to Zoom with people who bring you joy as it is to Zoom those important meetings.
What’s Your Next Step?
As you read through that list, was there one action that you found yourself saying, “I can do that.” or “I want to do that.” Start with one small step. Along the way, remember that you’re modeling for others what it means to be a healthy leader. An all or nothing approach will lead to failure. Take one step.
So, to get started, what one activity or practice will you start this week? If you are already doing some of these things, which one will you continue and invite others to join? As you continue to nurture your body and soul, you’re becoming the leader God has created you to be for this time and place in history.
If you need and want help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are ready to assist you in deepening your relationship with Christ, strengthening your relationships within your congregation, increasing your connections to the surrounding community as you lead a movement of Jesus followers.