February 8, 2021
Jacki Hart In my December column, I wrote about self care. I’m surprised by the number of people who reached out to thank me for the reminder and those who just wanted to chat more. In the midst of another province-wide lockdown, I've chosen to talk about checking in with yourself once again.

When I look back on the feedback and conversations I had with many Landscape Ontario members during the Congress Connect launch week, I’ve come to a conclusion: The majority of us are cruising through our days and weeks in the same way. We are stressed and tired and we’re numb to it.

On the surface, most are saying, “I’m good, it’s all good.” But after talking for five to 10 minutes, what bubbles to the surface are anecdotes about how different things are, how the lockdown is impacting family, friends, routines, and how we rarely laugh and smile. It all adds up to an undercurrent of stress.

I felt this throughout the Congress Connect week. The Landscape Ontario team did an OUTSTANDING job, and awesome sponsors stepped up and engaged. Those vendors put their best products and digital content forward and the speakers brought great content to their presentations — but something was missing and it wasn’t just me who felt this. It left me feeling a bit empty and kind of lonely.

What’s missing were the faces, the voices, the laughter and smiles. The nods of recognition when you see an acquaintance you met last year. The conversations that take place outside the seminar rooms. The chance encounters. And yes, shaking hands in a friendly greeting and meaning it. I think it’s this part of lockdown that’s hardest on us all — the physical void between you and everyone else.

I’m also finding there is virtual overload. Sure, Zoom calls help to keep us connected with each other, but having to tap the space bar at just the right time to chime in on fun group banter is just not the same once the fun moment has expired. And having to manage the bandwidth you’re sharing with everyone else in the house just so Zoom won’t freeze on you is wearing thin. In the midst of our newly virtual world, emotional, mental and spiritual self care seems a lower priority. Self care is lost in the space between changed routines, losing freedom and staying home.

I recently heard a friend say she was struggling with her husband working from home in ‘her’ daytime space. Like me, she works from her home office full time. She told her husband, “I may have married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch.” After I stopped laughing, I realized she was on to something. In this pandemic, we’ve all lost our own personal rhythm — whether it’s personal space, mind space, or mental space. For many, the world is kind of imploding rather than expanding. Eventually, we all get tired of the computer screen, the TV and surfing the web. We just want to meet a friend for coffee or dinner someplace where there’s activity and laughter.

After sharing all of these revelations, I now ask: How are you feeling in your head, your heart, and your spirit?

In a recent conversation with my friend and LO colleague Lexi Dearborn, she shared some thoughts about pandemic stress: “My clients are important, but I’m more importanter. This is my take-away from the stressful 2020 pandemic landscape season. I thought I had this one! Only to find I didn’t. My stress release has always been the gym. If I could get to the gym three or four times a week, I feel better, look better, and my stress is under control. I leave my stress at the gym and get much needed alone time, which does wonders for my well-being and brain power. Of course, my gym was closed for much of the season, and walking on a jobsite just isn’t the same as pumping a bit of iron. No gym + stress = little sleep. I can take on the world with eight hours of sleep, but I found toward the end of last season I was sleeping less and less each night. With a lack of sleep came a lack of productivity… or even caring if I was productive. Putting my mental and physical well-being second to my client’s needs through the pandemic created a very strung-out, stressed-out, and unhappy me. I’m re-learning to put myself first.”

Thanks Lexi. We all need to put ourselves first, especially right now. So to my readers, please check in with yourself as we move through our down time months and ramp back up toward spring. Your tanks need to be full in a couple of months — all four of them.

Please make sure you’re taking good care of your mental health, emotional health, and your spiritual health. Everyone else is telling you how to look after your physical health. It’s the other layers I’m suggesting you pay attention to. Check-in, be self-reflective and please, take good care of you.

Landscape Ontario member business owners can join the LO Peer to Peer Network for free.
To participate in private online discussions, email  signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com

Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager