During this unprecedented time, the need for inspiring leadership is more pressing than ever. If you are a manager who is suddenly working from home during the pandemic, you may be tempted to put in longer hours — after all, without the need to commute home, you may not feel the same urgency to close your laptop and declare an end to your workday. 

But self-care is essential right now — and it’s equally important to model what that looks like for your team. It means having boundaries around the workday, but it also involves paying attention to your whole-human well-being. For example, instead of working without any breaks, you could plan a nutritious midday meal to power your performance for the rest of your day. And rather than sitting all day, aim to squeeze in some movement at home. A Harvard University study found that people who exercise regularly have enhanced emotional resilience to prolonged exposure of stress. 

Simply put, staying healthy has never been more important. And as a leader, it’s vital that along with taking very good care of yourself, you encourage your reports to do the same. As many employees are concerned about keeping their jobs amidst so much insecurity, there may be an unhealthy (but understandable) tendency for some individuals to work around the clock in order to prove their value. It’s up to you to lead by example and remind everyone that the way to do their best work is to unplug and recharge — that’s what allows you to return to your work refreshed and energized the next day.

Here are four simple tips to help you do just that:

In your next team meeting, tell your direct reports how you’re taking care of yourself.

If you step away from your computer each afternoon for a walk or to FaceTime with your family, sharing this will normalize these important breaks, and open conversation for them to share how they’re doing. 

Go for a brief walk outside if you can.

Research has shown that exercising outdoors has tremendous physical and mental benefits. If you’re not sick, and if you wear a mask and keep six feet away from everyone you encounter, taking a walk to get some fresh air can be a simple but highly effective self-care tool. And on days when that’s not possible, opening a window and doing some gentle exercise indoors can do the trick.

Practice mindfulness.

If you aren’t already making time for some kind of mindfulness, why not start now? Science shows that mindfulness and meditation can increase aspects of brain function and decrease stress. Just a few minutes of quiet introspection could make you feel more centered, which will have a pronounced impact on your leadership.

Set an alarm for 30 minutes before your bedtime.

As a leader during the time of COVID-19, sleep is more essential than ever, because poor sleep has a negative impact on our health, mood and communication skills — every aspect of our well-being. Setting an alarm reminds you that if you’re going to get to bed on time, you need to start wrapping things up. 

If a colleague is struggling to take care of themselves, take a moment to offer encouragement.

Research shows that when we spend time helping or even simply being present for others, our sense of our own time actually expands. Reiterate the importance of everything you are doing for yourself and how it’s helping you feel better mentally and physically, and even improving your productivity. 

Working From Home in the New Normal is a data-driven storytelling initiative from SAP and Thrive Global, bringing together insights powered by the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse with actionable Microsteps and stories from Thrive to help you navigate working from home. Visit daily for the latest data and stories to help improve your focus, prioritization, and well-being.

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  • Elaine Lipworth

    Senior Content Writer at Thrive Global

    Elaine Lipworth is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster who has reported for a variety of BBC shows  and other networks. She has written about film, lifestyle, psychology and health for newspapers and magazines around the globe. Publications she’s contributed to range from The Guardian, The Times and You Magazine, to The Four Seasons Hotel Magazine,  Marie Claire, Harpers Bazaar,  Women’s Weekly and Sunday Life (Australia). She has also written regularly for film companies including Fox, Disney and Lionsgate. Recently, Elaine taught journalism as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University. Born and raised in the UK, Elaine is married with two daughters and lives in Los Angeles.