Cut Yourself Some Slack

by Dawn Y. Graber

Black family laughing on couch


Slack, Sleep, & Smiles

Resiliency Self-Care Practices 


#6 Cut Yourself Some Slack

 None of us have ever lived through a global pandemic of this magnitude. We're operating in an era where live virtual updates are available at our fingertips but the sheer amount of information overwhelms. The majority of us have not previously had to virtually map out our organization’s next steps with trusted colleagues and advisors like is becoming our new 2020 spring reality.

Rome wasn’t built in a day we say.  It is okay to not know all the answers.

You've been pouring yourself out for the last month doing your best to keep the ship aright and your staff happy and healthy. Now, you need to cut yourself some slack. 

Don't Work All The Time. 
  • Yes, the coronavirus pandemic is scary.

  • Yes, we all know persons who are more at-risk that can literally cause us incessant worry. Some of us have known persons that have died from the virus.

  • Yes, the changing realities at your work need your leadership now more than ever.

  • Yes, even if you worked 18 hours a day to keep your organization alive and healthy like Dr. Fauci said he was trying to keep us safe - there would be more to do and more than you could humanly accomplish. 

Like Dr. Faucin this time- you will struggle with some guilt for not being able to be all things to your team, your clients, your community, as well as perhaps your loved ones. 

But you are in the driver’s seat right now to take care of yourself and that includes the self-care practices I've covered in this blog series or others you choose more suited for your needs.  

To be resilient you must also walk away and be off the job - for your sake, for your team's sake, for your organization’s future sake. My hero, Jesus of Nazareth, walked away numerous times immediately after righting a wrong in the world (a diseased individual healed, a tumultuous storm quieted, a hungry crowd fed - just to name a few). The text says he went away to a quiet place and often spent time in prayer with his Father. People were still diseased, nature was still causing havoc, people were still hungry. Sorry to burst your bubble- but I doubt any of us are modern day Saviors. Certainly we, too, need to walk away without guilt from the 24/7 duty that pulls on us during this stressful time.

Engage in a healthy task that distracts you from your current fixations by engaging in something that transports you out of our present. A few weeks ago when I felt panic surfacing within me of the possible “what-if’s” I started watching the new season of Outlander rationing just one episode late at night to distract my mind. Suddenly I was in North Carolina with the British Army and the Regulators and wondering whether Claire could invent penicillin. For me, it was an enjoyable, healthy, necessary escape from my current reality. I’m saving this week’s episode to transport me away on the next day I feel a little more overwhelmed.

We need to simply be the human we were created to be.

A competent, re-chargeable, hopeful, resilient leader equipped now for next week, next month, and next year to lead our organizations fully.   

 Guard Your Sleep 

I admit getting enough sleep is what I struggle most with from the list of self-care practices I've suggested. I just always feel life has too much to live to spend time sleeping. But I want and need to more authentically practice increased sleep patterns because I do believe the data that sleep affects our health and that sufficient amounts increase clarity of mind. What additional sleep-aide practices would you add to this list I'm trying?

  • Don’t take in troublesome news before bed.

  • Limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening.

  • Use an alarm clock and leave your phone plugged in a different room.

  • Recount blessings from your day before retiring and set your intentions for the next day. 

  • Remember for most of us we sleep more readily not eating too close to bedtime. 

  • When your mind races at bedtime consider trying what a friend learned in a self-hypnosis class. Imagine in your mind's eye drawing the letters of the alphabet large enough to fill up a chalk board filling in each letter with chalk strokes, as if with a wide piece of chalk. Next, fully erase the letter going backwards and begin doing the same thing with the next letter of the alphabet. I’ve never made it past three or four letters before falling to sleep. Something different from counting sheep? 

 Smile to Laughter

Have you caught Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake's Quarantine Remix? These two always make me smile and are good for a probable chuckle. Together they are dynamite. And this recent video has a donation link to America's Food Fund. From just midnight to 9:00 am their fun video already has 18,600 shares. I believe that's because even in the midst of this scary, stressful time people need to laugh.

Being silly lightens the spirit and again builds resiliency.  We’ve all heard how the extra oxygen taken in while laughing is so good for us. 

Looking for the wonder of each day of life can be a challenge in the midst of suffering and tragedy. A call to silliness may sound even sacrilegious, if not at least disrespectful, at this time. But being able to laugh at our selves while full of questions, fear, and worry helps diffuse the tension. And there are miracles and good news all around. Life still needs our smiles.

Young children naturally bring laughter. They cry one minute and laugh heartedly the next. Borrow your friend’s grandkids via video if you must and interview them to hear their unfiltered responses. I bet you'll at least smile, if not laugh. 

I’m thankful currently for author and young adult expert Mark Matlock’s kitchen dance videos he’s posted on Facebook just to lighten our moods. What would it take for you to share a silly video like that to make someone laugh? If you want to get in on the fun get the sway app and transform yourself into the groove at: and have a good laugh.  

I have to work at laughter sometimes. It doesn’t come to me as naturally as putting my nose in a book. I'm going to go listen to my husband's jokes and have him read me the daily comics and work on that smile. I am convinced that smiles that turn into laughter are an important part of self-care.


You CAN build your resilience to lead in such a time as this by CUTTING YOURSELF SOME SLACK by working less, watching your sleep patterns, and remembering to smile as vital actions of your self-care.  

YOU are the person for such a time as this. The threat of decreased donor engagement for our organizations, interrupted supply chains for our businesses, layoffs, distractions from mission focus, the steep learning curve to work as a team virtually, and the stress of an unknown timeframe for this pandemic to end has knocked us for a loop. But RESILIENCE promises us “...the ability to bring energy- mental, spiritual, physical and emotional energy- to our lives, and particularly to situations that are difficult...” (Ferguson, Laurie J, PhD

If you missed my previous blogs in this BUILDING RESILIENCE series please visit Transforming Influence and sign up to receive future posts. This concludes this series.

Photo from 123RF license

Dawn Yoder Graber
Post by Dawn Yoder Graber
April 9, 2020
Coach to Rising Women Executives & Energizing Educator for your Team’s Targeted Learning Opportunities.