Meetings and events professionals, and the hospitality professionals they work with, are accustomed to taking care of clients, executives, colleagues, qualifiers and other stakeholders. However, the destabilization of our industry and the uncertainty around what lies ahead can have a negative impact on our own mental and physical health that extends beyond the current shelter-in-place orders. That means we should each devote time to taking care of ourselves daily, especially in the current environment.
In the sixth of FICP’s new virtual education series, Financial & Insurance Professionals (FICP) Chats, more than 150 participants discussed tips for staying healthy while working remotely, with a focus on exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness and maintaining a work-life balance.
Many participants had already incorporated walking into their daily routines to both help replace other fitness activities and provide much-needed breaks from sitting in front of a computer. They recommended setting a schedule and walking with a friend–in a distanced manner or with someone located elsewhere–and having a call with that person while walking. This added accountability and much-needed social interactions with others into the walking activity and helped vary the routine. Some participants chose different walking routes each day and brought family members along to hunt for different aspects of their environments.
Setting goals for each day; incorporating exercise or step-counting apps; joining online workout programs; mixing up types of exercise; setting an alarm to force activity breaks; hosting a walking challenge with colleagues, friends or family members; and staring the day with exercise were all noted as additional ways to help participants create and maintain exercise routines.
With easy access to the kitchen throughout the day, participants noted a need to change both food-consumption behaviors and the types of foods they’re keeping in their houses. Keeping healthier snacks at home, including more fresh fruits and vegetables, shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store where healthier foods are more prevalent, going to the fridge instead of the pantry for snacks, tracking food consumption via an app, and locating home offices away from the kitchen, were all tips for stocking up and accessing foods that were higher in nutritional value and lower in calories.
Other suggestions for developing better eating habits included using meal services that specialize in nutritional recipes, which could also help to improve comfort and skill with experimenting in the kitchen.
Participants noted nutrition-related benefits of sheltering-in-place such as eating fewer higher-calorie restaurant meals, having the opportunity to eat family meals together and participate in meaningful conversations, engaging children in healthy meal planning and preparation and the opportunity to try new recipes.
While participants noted they usually didn’t have trouble going to sleep at night, getting a restful, full-night’s sleep was elusive for many on the Chats. Nighttime was when many felt the stress most strongly associated with isolation without a clear end date, and they’re finding themselves up in the middle of the night.
As a result, participants were turning to a variety of vitamins, supplements and other remedies such as essential oils, lavender oil, melatonin, CBD balms and oils, magnesium, warm milk, and chamomile tea, in an effort to sleep more peacefully. Participants also recommended white noise machines and misters to help create a calming and quiet environment for better sleep.
Remembering to disconnect from electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, eating dinner early, not drinking alcohol late at night, not watching the news or reading other anxiety-inducing information before bed, and writing down weighing thoughts on a piece of paper before bedtime were additional ways that participants could prepare their bodies and minds to stay asleep all night.
Changing our mindset won’t just result in a better night’s sleep, it can help us feel more relaxed throughout the day and improve our overall mental health. Journaling and writing down (on paper) what you’re grateful for each day were techniques participants suggested for helping you to stay focused on the positive aspects of life, even during challenging times. Some participants had also been using meditation and yoga to help maintain a healthy mindset.
To help participants maintain balance between work and personal responsibilities, participants offered many suggestions, starting with creating a daily routine. Preparing for a workday as if you were going to the office, getting showered and dressed and going to a dedicated work station that is set up similar to the one in the office were go-to solutions.
Set aside dedicated work and recreation times and be fully present in both spaces, making sure that you give yourselves breaks in your day from work–and encourage your direct reports to do the same. Consider using transition times at the start and end of the day, as you may have used a commute in the past, to change your focus from work to family and vice versa. In that transition, call a friend or colleague on a non-work-related matter, read for leisure or walk the dog.
Most importantly, participants emphasized the need to be gentle with themselves during this time giving themselves permission to not always do the “right” things (those noted above for health and wellness), forgiving themselves when they make mistakes and being comfortable with not living up to the behaviors or activities of peers witnessed in social media feeds. Remember, we are not just working remotely, we are doing so during a health crisis that is impacting all aspects of our lives.
Jennifer Squeglia, CMP, is a member of FICP Board of Directors. In the next FICP Chats, taking place during the 2020 FICP Education Week (June 22-26), our community will revisit meeting and event plans for the rest of 2020. Learn more about upcoming FICP Chats, part of FICP Anytime.