In this segment of Stories from the Couch, our employees share their stories about how they take care of themselves in difficult times.
Our employees are resourceful, creative people. So, of course, they couldn’t limit themselves to the usual self-care tips. In fact, their stories of self-care routines are anything but routine.
Whether it’s running literally every day, writing ourselves permission slips, or just hanging out on the porch with the kids, these employees’ unique routines shape their days. Each moment of self-care gives them something to look forward to and helps them not feel like the days are running into each other.
At least—not quite as much!
SHORT STORIES ON HOW WE ARE TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES
Scenes from Pleasantville, MO
I live in a South St. Louis neighborhood, on the corner of a 60-acre park. The neighborhood is called St. Louis Hills, but some friends jokingly call it “Pleasantville” because it’s like living in the 1950s. Everyone knows everyone, and we regularly chat from our driveways or over our low fences.
Cattycorner from our house sits a Catholic church and school. When my husband and I moved in 10 years ago, we loved how parents introduced themselves and welcomed us to the neighborhood as they walked their kids to school or dropped them off.
Before the pandemic, my interactions with neighbors were limited to weekends. But, since March, the highlight of my day has been leaving my laptop inside and sitting on the porch facing the park. Every evening I see people I know, either from their daily exercise routines and dog walks past our house or from our neighborhood gym.
That time on the porch became a lifeline for me and my neighbors. It kept me open to the world. When the weather got warmer, my neighbor and I set up an outdoor office, with the low fence between us as our “cube wall.” At first, we would apologize for taking phone calls, but we came to value that background sound and camaraderie.
Of course, I love running in the neighborhood and going to outdoor exercise classes in the park. But for me, seeing and interacting with my “Pleasantville” neighbors is an important part of my self-care routine.
Self-Care Partners for the Sake of All
As a mom of two toddlers, I had little “me time” on a good day. The pandemic has amplified this basic fact of parenthood.
As we have made our way through the past year, I have remembered to ask myself daily, “How am I doing? Am I drinking water, eating or sleeping enough? How can I stay connected to my friends and family?” Knowing where I’m at helps me know when I need to slow down and take care of myself so that I can take care of the kids. We can’t share our resources with others when we lack them ourselves.
My husband and I quickly developed a self-care routine to keep our sanity. My routine includes exercise every week with a girlfriend (while social distancing), staying hydrated and eating well, and getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It helps me thrive and put my best foot forward.
When we are having an extra hard time, my husband encourages me to take a long walk down the aisles of Target, and I encourage him to spend an hour chipping golf balls in the back yard.
And if we both need a break, we call on trusted family members to watch the kids so we can squeeze in a date night, even if it’s curbside pick-up from our favorite restaurant and eating in the back of our pick-up truck. Keeping tabs on one another and making sure we ask for help is great self-care!
— Heather Bahorich, Talent Management Lead
Running On . . . And On . . . And On . . .
I have been a runner for more than 40 years, so running is part of my life . . . but this? Who knew running every day (since March 20, 2020) would be how I would take care of myself since the pandemic began!
Yes, I have run more than 230 days in a row and more than 1,900 miles (so far), at least four miles each and every day. My running streak has become a bit of an obsession for me, but it has helped me get centered for what the rest of the day will bring.
I have learned that getting into a routine (and staying in it) has been very important. Some days I just don’t feel like going a run, but the longer my streak goes, the more I just say to myself, “Don’t give up now – it’s just four miles.”
Keeping my streak going has been even more challenging because, during this time, I ran six “in-person” socially distanced marathons, two virtual marathons along the Boston marathon course and one ultra-marathon (56 miles) out and back along the Boston course. Running four miles after these runs took total will power.
People have asked me how long I will keep my streak running streak going, and I am not sure. But as long as I can stay healthy and uninjured, I will try to keep it going.
Permission Slipping through the Pandemic
My amazing and wonderfully patient wife (plus five brownie points for the intro) will tell you I am two steps away from insanity at any moment. If you watch the news, it feels like the world has collectively taken two steps toward insanity in 2020. Given that, self-care is more important than ever.
Borrowing from the brilliant author, Brené Brown, I’ve learned to write myself a few “Pandemic Permission Slips” to keep the little sanity I have left:
Permission to Exercise
I am a morning workout person, but sometimes pandemic life makes getting out of bed at 5 A.M. impossible. Those are the days I give myself permission to carve out time between calls during my day for a quick “sanity run.”
Permission to (Respectfully) Say No
When my “To Do” list becomes a “Too Long” list, I block an hour or two on my calendar to knock out some work. If someone books over that, I reply with a friendly, “Hey, I’ve got some really important project work at that time. Am I absolutely required?” If it’s a “yes,” I gladly give up my blocked time, but they are happy to reschedule most of the time.
Permission for a Sanity Break
In the world of back-to-back meetings, sometimes, you just need to take five minutes to pet your dog or be outside. Your work will still be there in five minutes, I promise.
This isn’t rocket science, but it’s the small permissions we give ourselves daily that keep us (somewhat) sane in a seemingly insane world!
— Joel Longanecker, Senior Consultant in Business Consulting Services, St. Louis