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  • Dr. Anthony Thompson

Importance of Self-Care for Leaders


Self-care is the practice of being conscious of your well-being and purposefully taking responsibility for your mind, body, and spirit. Consider where you are as it pertains to your own self-care. Have you been able to maintain or start self-care? Do you notice the

difference of those practices on your sense of wellbeing?


Have you struggled to even think about your own care because it has become more difficult to manage the seemingly unending pressures society has had to offer lately? It is likely that we are all over the continuum as we grapple with this pandemic and other challenges. Now consider this. If you are in a leadership position, and it is everything you can do to manage

this yourself, then how do you think your employees may be doing?


Employees are not only struggling with keeping their head above water (as the saying goes), but also report to a work environment filled with challenges and changes they did not anticipate. “The way leaders cope with their stress trickles down, impacting their employees’ own work experience and stress levels.” Not only do you have to take responsibility for your own self-care, but as a leader, it is imperative to support your employees.


Further, take a look at how the pandemic is impacting minorities: “Minority workers are more likely to be “essential workers” and are less likely to be able to telecommute to work, meaning they are exposed to more people.” Many minority workers do not have such commodities as cars and their own reliable transportation for personal or professional use; therefore, they must use public transportation which also exposes them to more people. The issues with this population are often more socio-economical rather than genetic. Minorities live in more densely populated areas creating more challenges for them to physically distance.


As it pertains to physical health, minorities are more likely to have chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease which can lead to more severe COVID-19 symptoms. These inequities in social determinants of health disproportionately impact minorities on a more significant level and reinforces the need to focus on creating more systems that support their mental, spiritual, physical, and social health and well-being. So how do we support our employees’ mental, social, physical, and spiritual health and well-being?

THERE ARE A FEW THINGS I WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO:

Be transparent about the current changes on the job even if you don’t have all the

answers.


Sensitively address some of the fears and concerns employees may be having.


Respectfully ask employees if they are affected by current racial and cultural issues. Creating a safe space to talk can help decrease anxiety/fears, demonstrates a level of support, and can potentially optimize your employees’ performance.


Have periodic check-ins with your employees on their wellbeing. Spend time with your employees with proper physical distancing as appropriate. The gift of our attention can add greatly to an employee’s sense of belonging and value to the department.


Validate their concerns, acknowledge good work they do, and communicate your willingness to help guide them to appropriate resources.


Self-care is a continuous and mindful approach to your health and well-being. Don’t feel bad when you make efforts but are challenged with setbacks. The pandemic, gut-wrenching racial tension, and tiresome divisiveness amongst social and cultural classes of people contribute greatly against the practice of self-care……matter of fact, even when we make progress in these areas, there is residual impact coming out of a such a time of crisis. Be mindful of your own struggles and through consistency, compassion, and transparency lead your teams by example and timely communication.

References:

Skakon, Janne. (2010). Are leaders’ well-being, behaviours and style associated with

affective well-being of their employees? A systematic review of three decades of research.

An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations 24(2).


St. Luke’s Health, “How COVID-19 Affects Minority Groups,” July 13, 2020,

https://www.stlukeshealth.org/resources/how-covid-19-affects-minority-groups

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