Freeing Our Work Spirit

By Jalene Case,

Our poor work spirits have taken quite a hit during this pandemic. By “work spirit” I mean the part of us that loves the work we’ve chosen to do and relishes the rewards we receive for doing it well. I’ve talked with people who are still working in their jobs, people who have laid off all their employees but are still working, and solopreneurs trying to stay afloat. Everyone is exhausted.

It takes an inordinate amount of energy to work right now. Our internal systems are overloaded by analyzing decisions that didn’t require our attention a month ago. We have to ask ourselves: Am I far enough away from that person? How can I reduce the number of trips to the grocery store? How do I not look like a total dork on Zoom? Why aren’t I using this time for my big, dream projects? It’s no wonder we’re wiped out!

How do we free ourselves so we can enjoy our work again? We can’t extricate ourselves by continuing to do the same things faster or longer, or forcing ourselves with mean internal thoughts, or comparing ourselves to other people we imagine never get stuck.

I propose giving ourselves some grace and space to loosen the ropes that are constricting us.

Consider these untying tips for freeing-up your work spirit.

Mighty Metaphor
What’s a metaphor that represents how you want to feel about your work or business right now?

We get stuck in the stories we tell ourselves. They become our truth even though they are most likely not true. This process shifts our perspective and opens us to new viewpoints.

Here’s an example to jump start your imagination. Metaphor: My business has been in a car accident, t-boned by another vehicle. It’s not my fault and yet, my business is physically injured. I need to help it heal. When our bodies are healing, we take care of them and know that recovery will take time with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

What metaphor comes to mind for you for your work environment? How might a change in perspective shift your attitude and actions?

Sweet Self-Compassion
As soon as I utter the words, “We need to give ourselves even more self-compassion,” anyone I’m with says, “Yes!” We innately know that compassion is a good thing.

The most basic definition of self-compassion is talking to yourself with the same kindness you would use with a friend. My go-to person in this area is Dr. Kristin Neff (self-compassion.org).

Dr. Neff offers this activity that you can do right now:

  1. Put both hands on your heart, pause, and feel their warmth.
  2. Breathe deeply in and out.
  3. Speak these words to yourself, out loud or silently, in a warm and caring tone:
    This is a moment of suffering.
    Suffering is a part of life.
    May I be kind to myself in this moment.
    May I give myself the compassion I need.

How are you feeling now? Simply notice.

Soothe Yourself
Consider what you need physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Remember that when you’re taking care of yourself, you are immensely more effective at taking care of the other people and work in your life. It is not selfish. Imagine putting the oxygen mask on yourself first or filling your cup so you have plenty to share.

A participant recently shared this concept with our leadership development group. Each of us shows up to work with one cup of empathy. We can either pour all of it on one person or disburse it drip-by-drip throughout the day. When it’s gone, that’s it. The problem is that sometimes the cup is emptied at work and we have nothing left for our families. The group immediately wondered, “How do we increase the size of our cup so we have more empathy to give?” The answer. Take care of ourselves first.

How might you take a little better care of yourself? The people and work in your life will thank you. What is one practice that you will do for the next week to free your work spirit? I’d love to hear what worked for you. Connect with me at Jalene@JaleneCase.com.