Twenty-twenty began with the best of intentions. Like the year before it, and the year before that, a large number of us went about establishing goals to help us become happier, more whole versions of ourselves. The aim was to maximise our energy levels, be zen within our thoughts, and to ensure our bodies received their due attention through nutrition and exercise. But now, as the year winds down to its inevitable end, many of us are exhausted, unmotivated and feel like we’re simply hanging on for something, anything that resembles normalcy. 

To say this year has brought with it turbulent times that none of us were prepared for would be an understatement. Initially, we were excited about the prospects of working from home, until we realised what that entailed: scheduling calls when children “should” go down for their naps, but didn’t; the room that was once reserved for sleeping now became our very own co-work space; and dinner tables gradually grew cluttered with print-outs and laptops and half-finished cups of mediocre instant coffee that we made when our shoulders started to cramp because the dinner chair wasn’t designed with desktop ergonomics in mind.

Some of us aspired to use the lockdown to finally get in touch with their inner desires, write that book they’ve always been talking about or sign-up for that online class. But what none of us could have prepared for was the stress and unalignment that the pandemic would create in our lives, our families, amongst our colleagues and within our teams and organisations. The normal demarcations that separated work from home or this responsibility from that disappeared, leaving us more vulnerable and depleted than ever. 

But this is also an unprecedented time we have to reconnect with ourselves. This year has taught us that everything we do is interconnected. Our sleep habits, our thoughts, our diet, and our exercise all impact how we show up for that web-based leadership meeting or the patience we exhibit while listening to a troubled member on our team.

Our ability to lead has never been more crucial, but first, we have to regenerate ourselves so that we have the capacity to help our teams. 

The first thing we must do is acknowledge that things are difficult right now, and they have been for a while. Write a list of your stressors on one side of a piece of paper, then draw a line down the middle and write a list of what you can do about it on the other. Create healthy boundaries around all aspects of your life: work, family, meal-time, exercise, meditation or yoga. Make time to read a book, go for a walk, watch a movie or simply sit quietly to reflect on the day’s events.

Pay attention to yourself. Are your thoughts rushed and jumbled? Then slow things down. If late-night calls don’t work for you, then talk with your team about the different ways that business needs can be addressed in a time more suitable. 

Exercise for your physical health as well as your mental one. We all sit on the spectrum of how much we’d ideally like to do in a given day, but make sure you’re doing something that you enjoy. (Cardio like running, swimming or a brisk walk; strength training like lifting weights or certain kinds of yoga; flexibility like Pilates or stretching.)

Be mindful of your diet. We aren’t moving around like many of us are accustomed; therefore, ensure your main meals of the day consist of food that gives you energy and don’t leave you feeling sluggish afterwards.

Manage your diary by organising your priorities. Contextualise your to-do list. Figure out what is urgent, what is necessary, and what is noise that you can delegate, or better yet, simply remove off everyone’s list.

Figure out what time of day is best for you to switch off, and then honour it. If you meditate, then use that as a tool to help you switch from work mode to downtime. Tuning out distractions takes practice, but this is the best time to start. Put your phone away if that is an attraction into unhealthy activities. Turn off notifications. Switch your ringer to silent. 

We owe it to ourselves as well as our teams to work towards self-regeneration in a manner that increases our energy and enhances our mood and mental well-being.


Originally Published on November 16, 2020 at

Matthew Chapman

Matt’s passion for wellness has driven every aspect of his life. He started, and has grown, ChapmanCG into the world’s premier HR search company, which he founded and has kept completely virtual since 2008. His passion around HR and the future of work has fuelled his desire to invest in HR technology concepts and also to co-create the Thrive HR Exchange.

He is currently in training as a Founding Participant in the epic Snowman Race in Bhutan. He is a finisher of six 250 km desert ultramarathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

Matt now resides at Parihoa, his seaside farm in New Zealand, where he is attuned to virtual working and manages his global business interests from here. He is a Singapore Citizen and counts Singapore as his other base.

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