Crises hit leaders all of the time. Though, our latest crisis (nay, pandemic) is the COVID-19/Coronavirus is something completely different than many of us have ever faced.
Non-essential businesses are shutting down. Essential businesses have to expose their team members to the possibility of contact with the virus.
It’s a scary, scary time.
In times like this, it is easy for a leader to focus primarily on their team. They look for ways to help their team members through the crisis. But what about the leader? Doesn’t he need to stay healthy throughout the crisis as well?
Leaders do need to stay healthy. They need to make sure they’re looking after their physical and mental needs. Today, I want to share 6 ways leaders can stay healthy during a crisis.
6 Ways To Stay Healthy During The COVID-19 Crisis
1. Get enough sleep:
Sleep can be elusive during a crisis. Your mind is racing on the best ways to take care of your people… of your family. The thoughts of what could happen run through your mind and prevent you from getting the right amount of sleep.
You can’t allow a crisis to rob you of your sleep. Sleep is a critical part of your mental and physical health. The Sleep Foundation recommends adults between the ages of 26-64 get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Sleep helps your body recover and recharge from the strain of navigating a crisis. Don’t ignore your sleep when a crisis hits.
2. Keep digesting good, positive content:
It’s easy to forgo the good, positive content you’ve been consuming when a crisis hits. You don’t need that positivity junk when you’re dealing with a crisis. You need the cold, hard facts.
What if I told you that you’re wrong? You don’t need only the cold, hard facts. You need the cold, hard facts along with a good, healthy dose of positive content.
The positive content you consume will help you keep a positive outlook on the situation. You may find yourself sifting through content that inspires you to lead your organization in a new direction during the crisis. Or the positive content you read may help you keep your head above the water.
Remember, as a Native American proverb says: The dog (positive or negative) you feed is the dog that will win.
This means if you continue to feed the negative thoughts in your mind, the negative thoughts will win. Feed the positive thoughts in your mind, they will win. Make sure you’re feeding the right dog!
3. Meet with your close friends (virtually):
This one has been hard for me. I am an extrovert times 10, according to my wife. She says I need people. I say she’s right.
What do you do during a crisis? One where you’re told to stay home and not have any physical content with your friends, coworkers, and family that lives outside of your house?
I’ve found meeting with my people online has been a great help. Our church has used Zoom Meetings to keep us in touch. We’ve run multiple meetings this way and it has helped us stay connected.
You can also use Zoom Meetings to connect with your close friends. You will be able to see their smiling faces while you’re hearing their voice.
It’s not the same as meeting in person but it does raise the spirits. Find ways to meet with your close friends and encourage one another.
4. Keep exercising:
Another area of your life you may neglect during a crisis is your physical health. Neglecting your health is a big no-no.
If you’re letting your health lag because of a crisis, you’re allowing your ability to lead through the crisis to weaken. A physically healthy leader is a leader who can get through the toughest times.
If your state allows, go outside for a run. Lok and I have continued our regular runs. It helps to clear my mind and to keep my body in shape. Find an activity you can do that will help you stay physically fit.
5. Talk to a counselor:
Leading through a crisis can be mentally draining. You may feel like you’re at your wit’s end. You don’t know what to do next or you feel tired and worn out mentally.
What do you do when you’re mentally drained? You go talk to a counselor.
There are many ways you can talk to a counselor. You can call a local counselor and make an appointment to talk to them over the phone. There are Skype and Zoom sessions you can have with a counselor. You may even be able to share your thoughts and struggles with a counselor via email.
If you’re struggling mentally, be willing to go talk to a counselor. There’s no shame in needing to talk to someone who can walk you through the mental gymnastics of a crisis.
6. Keep a healthy, balanced diet:
Want to know what I did when the stay-at-home order hit Michigan? I began to binge eat. If there was junk food in the house, I went for it. The salty, sugary snacks tasted so good. They feed my bad cravings. Binge eating also made me feel bad.
My runs and times of exercise felt sluggish. I felt horrible afterward. Why? Because I wasn’t fueling my body with the right fuel. I choose tasty and easy over good and healthy.
You need to make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet during crises. A healthy, balanced diet will help your body and mind process the crisis better.
You won’t feel sluggish. You won’t feel like sleeping in until 10 AM. And you won’t have a clouded mind.
Make sure your diet doesn’t become worse during the crisis.