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Fluidity is the new ‘Pivot’.

Deju vu? PTSD? Or just the same thing, different year? There is something to be said about everything having a season… and our busy season is just about to go into overdrive. This year we’ve been pushing through, trying to get to the other side of the pandemic and all the inherent issues with it… and then BAM! We’re on repeat with rising C19 numbers, mask mandates, and more… and yet, we’re being asked – either by our business or by ourselves – to not only keep on top of this, but excel. At some point, something has gotta give.

Fluidity (noun) flu·id·i·ty | /flo͞oˈidədē/: smooth elegance or grace; the ability of a substance to flow easily; changeability.

Imagine a swan gliding over a beautiful pond… we’re the swan and our winery is the beautiful pond/setting… then imagine below the surface the mad, frantic paddling of our webbed feet. We might show the world our grace and fluidity, but for sure there is some hard work going on under the surface.

How do we rise to the occasion, get through the busiest part of the year, when we’ve been pressing forward for over a year with seemingly no break in site? At the end of the day, we’ve got three things to focus on: Keep staff safe. Keep customers safe. Keep your sanity… all while keeping the business afloat of course; no small task.

While it’s easy to get frustrated, discouraged, and weary from this year-and-a-half rollercoaster ride that seems to go on without much end in sight, bear in mind that you are not alone and we’ve done this before with less information and less planning.  With happy staff, happy customers, and a happy you, there is resiliency and confidence in every fluid glide made.

Burnout (noun) burn·​out | \ ˈbərn-ˌau̇t \: exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration

Simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, or begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout.

Let’s be proactive – we know we all need a break – our teams, ourselves. First and foremost, PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST! If you can manage your own sanity and mental health, you can manage anything else.

Keeping your sanity. Even if you don’t think you are stressed, I challenge you to do a few of these things TODAY:

  • Check in with yourself. Write in a journal, take a long bath and meditate, share your feelings with your partner, call your mom, and/or schedule a visit with a counselor. Encourage open communication with yourself and others you trust, and create a space where you feel safe and heard. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are stressed. If we don’t thoughtfully put our feelings into words to really understand what they are and how they are affecting us, we may suddenly find ourselves feeling like the rug was swept out from under us.
  • Take time for wellness – You know you are really a busy person when you forget to breath! You may be laughing now, but seriously, do you hold your breath? Do you breathe quick and shallow? Take a slow deep breath right now, hold it for 3-5 seconds, and let it out slowly. Repeat. It probably feels very different than the way you’ve been breathing. If that felt good, you might also find time to go on a walk, do some yoga, have lunch outside, or enjoy a non-work-related conversation with a colleague. If your stress level is high, consider cutting (or better yet, eliminating) caffeine, the news, and other stimulants. In exchange, increase your water intake. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep too!
  • Recognize your resources. So many of us want to shoulder the bulk of the burden, whatever it may be, but we risk being less helpful in the long run.  Identify who else can help and how to spread the weight, empower more team members, and give others a chance to shine.
  • Create community with your network. Having a supportive group of coworkers to lean on is important in the best of times and absolutely crucial in the most challenging of times.
  • Treat yourself– Have you been saving up those personal days for the right time? Maybe now is the right time? At the very least, give yourself a 3-day weekend and some things you love! Remember those hobbies you used to enjoy? Go for a hiking/camping trip, get a massage and a pedicure, work on an art project, clear the weeds from your garden, go golfing, whatever it is that you enjoy; give yourself the time to do it – SOON.

Helping our team keep their sanity. If you’ve got a team of rockstars, chances are they are bottling in some stress as well. If you’ve got a team of losers, chances are they are bottling in some stress as well. (You catch my drift?)

  • Check in with your team. Encourage open communication by asking questions and sharing your own feelings to create a space where employees feel safe and heard.
  • Recognize efforts, show appreciation, speak your gratitude. It goes a long way in navigating tough situations, builds trust and empathy, and also supports employee retention. Plus, focusing on positives will make you feel better too.
  • Set a goal for the team; if they meet it, take a field trip! (Go on a closed day, or slow day) If you do this by department, other departments can help cover for the day each group is out.
  • Field trip too much? Get offsite and doing something together – ½ day off for a team barbeque, even if it’s BYOBeef.
  • Hire massage therapists to come in for quick chair massages for each team member
  • Encourage walks/exercise – institute a step challenge (Fitbit or other steps tracker)
  • Focus on feeding and care during those crunch times – bring in lunches, snacks, etc. to have on hand.
  • Buy the team who are on the floor all the time new shoes; teams on the computer all the time? Balance balls? Chair supports/cushions? Better lighting?
  • What do our team members need to stay not only sane but ready to meet the challenges each day?

If you’re not convinced yet that managing your stress is vital for you, your team, and your company, consider this: would you rather plan time off once in a while to do things you want to do that are good for your health or find yourself in the hospital being told you need to take time off to get healthy enough to do your job and manage your life? If we’re proactive, we can head off some of the extreme burnout – the dangerous kind. Losing revenue for a day just might be the return on investment for our company and our team… so that we have a team left; one that is energized and ready for the next set of challenges.

Did you know there are apps that will remind you to breathe; apps that connect you with professional therapists you can talk to from anywhere? There are great videos on YouTube about managing stress, yoga for beginners, and more! Search Facebook groups to find a community of people who will help you feel better. There are other great resources all over! Please share your favorite resources in the comments below.

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