Category Member Spotlight

Self-Care Success: Remembering to Take Care of YOU During Unusual Times

By Kerry Burke

It’s hard to believe that we are over a month into this new world of social distancing and remote working. For many of us, this is a strange and challenging new reality where we are learning to juggle multiple things at home while continuing to produce our best work – and all while emotionally processing everything that is going on in the world.

One of the most important things we can do to help us get through this time is to practice self-care. You may have heard the phrase “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and that is important to remember as we navigate this new way of living and working.

There are many helpful resources online that share best practices for working remotely, and hundreds of articles on self-care during the time of COVID-19. Everyone is different, and it’s important that we all find an approach to self-care that works for us. A good place to start your self-care journey is by asking yourself: What can I do to take care of my well-being so I can continue to be the best communications professional for my company?

I’ve participated in numerous Zoom meetings, phone calls, and text conversations with friends and colleagues from across the country where we have discussed this same question. What I’ve learned is this: there is no right or wrong way to take care of oneself during stressful and uncertain times. As I mentioned, we are all different and you have to do what is best for you. Taking that into account, I started keeping a list of things that help me feel energized and motivated, and a list of things I did that would make me feel lethargic or stressed. Journaling these activities throughout the day helped me notice trends in my work performance and mood, and I have been able to adjust accordingly.

Important disclaimer: By nomeans am I a psychologist, nutritionist, or life coach. But as a professional communicator, I have a love for writing and connecting with others and I hope these insights in my journey towards self-care will help motivate you in being the best person and professional you can be in this “new normal” we are navigating together. 

Energizing habits:

  • Maintain structure: I try to maintain my morning routine as much as possible to set myself up for success. If you aren’t doing this already, try getting ready each morning as you would for a normal workday – shower, get dressed (leggings are totally OK!), make your bed, exercise, etc.

As Fred Rogers said best, “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day.”

  • Eat well: I always feel my best when I’m eating healthier. I was eating a lot of processed foods when this all started, and once I got back to incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet, I felt 100 times better. The Harvard Health Blog published a blog about eating during COVID-19 that offers some great tips on how you can eat healthy to improve your mood and lower stress. If you have a tough time meal prepping or aren’t a fan of cooking, there are places that will do the meal prep for you, and some will even bring it to your door with contactless delivery. Some of my favorites in Nashville are Eat Well Nashville and Clean Eatz.

One of my favorite superfood breakfasts – Avocado Toast and Lox!

  • Get some fresh air: During my lunch break, after logging off from work, and on the weekends, I find going outside for walks and runs with my dog Brady keeps my spirits up and re-energizes me (and Brady loves it, too!). Some of my favorite spots include the nearby 12th South neighborhood, the Richland Creek Greenway, and the streets in my own neighborhood. I encourage you to find some areas near where you live where it’s safe to walk (sidewalk is preferable!) and not overcrowded or visit a local greenway.

Brady Burke enjoying his daily stroll in the Green Hills neighborhood.

  • Breathe: At least once a day, I try to do a quick guided meditation or a yoga video. It helps calm my thoughts and be more present and mindful. Take a few moments each day to focus on your breathing, or try meditation and/or yoga. You can find many free guided meditations and yoga classes on YouTube, and many apps and gyms are now offering free videos as well.

Brady and I enjoying virtual yoga classes online! I highly recommend the virtual yoga and meditation classes offered by local nonprofit, Small World Yoga.

  • Stay connected: I’m so thankful for the technology that keeps us connected when we can’t be together in person – whether it’s Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Zoom is my personal favorite, and I have weekly Zoom dates with friends and family to help me stay connected to them.

It’s important to stay connected to your tribe!

  • Write it down: As I mentioned earlier, journaling and creating lists have been very helpful in my quest for quarantine happiness. You can purchase some fun physical journals – either blank or with daily journal prompts, and/or you can do what I do and capture lists and thoughts in a note app like Evernote.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Not-so-energizing habits / Habits to avoid:

  • Watching too much news: After the first two weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was on media overload and had to take a break. It’s important to stay informed, but that does not mean we need to watch every press briefing and read every article. I now set aside specific times each day (usually once in the morning, and once in the evening) when I allow myself to check the news. I am careful to only read and watch reputable, unbiased news sources, and keep up with the most recent CDC guidelines.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

  • Social media overload: While social media helps us feel connected to one another during social distancing, it can also breed negativity and anxiety. Like I’ve done with my news intake, I have set aside certain times during the day where I check social media. Additionally, I try not to get sucked into reading negative posts or comments. The goal of designating times to check news and social media isn’t to be 100% successful (and I certainly have my moments of weakness!), but to help us be mindful and try to limit screen and scroll time so we can focus on other things.

Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

  • Indulging stress vices: Everyone handles stress differently. If you are a person who finds yourself indulging in “stress vices” like too much food or alcohol (I, personally, have been known to over-snack!), try to be mindful and limit those activities during times of stress. If you need additional support, check with your Human Resources department to see if your company has an employee assistance program or can connect you with helpful resources, or contact a local helpline.

Brady: “But Mom, I want ALL of it!”

  • Isolating yourself from others: Loneliness has major impacts on health and well-being, and many are at risk for loneliness while social distancing. Make sure you are staying connected with others. Try to reach out to one person a day by phone or video. As a person who lives alone, having regular communication with friends and family has helped me immensely.

Brady: “But Mom, I don’t want to get out of bed today!”

  • Being hard on yourself: When this all started, I felt a little down on myself for not accomplishing all the impressive things I was seeing others do on social media: working out three times a day, reorganizing the entire house, cooking gourmet meals, taking on a new hobby, the list goes on. But then I remembered that we are all in different situations and we all operate differently. And that’s OK. Give yourself some grace right now, and take comfort in the fact that we are all doing our best – even if that looks a little different for each of us.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, Brady!

For more ideas on ways you can invest in self-care, I recommend checking out these articles on Forbes, Healthline, and Lavendaire. They provide great tips and tricks on how to keep you focused and motivated. Stay safe, be healthy, and know that you will get through this

Kerry Burke is a Business Communications Lead for Cigna and serves on the IABC Nashville board of directors as president-elect and Vice President of Social Media. 

Member Spotlight – Bailey Cairnduff

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q & A feature. We are pleased to showcase new IABC member Bailey Cairnduff, Implementation Specialist at HCA Healthcare. 

What is your current position? How long have you been in this role?

I am currently an Implementation Specialist at HCA and I have been in this role since April, 2018.

How did you get started in this business?

I have always had an interest in communications, along with events. My Bachelor’s Degree is in Hospitality Management, with an emphasis in Event Management, and a minor in General Business. I also have a Master’s Degree in Communications. 

What makes your business/organization stand out?

HCA is one of the largest hospital corporations in the world and patient care is the focus of the organization. Serving patients and giving them the highest possible quality of service is something to take pride in. HCA also has a family-oriented culture, which I truly appreciate and I am thankful to be a part of the organization. 

What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

I do not work in a communications-specific role currently. However, I do have many aspects of communications intertwined into my role and I have been able to learn some lessons along the way. I have made it a part of my goals this year to improve my ability to choose which avenue of communications is necessary for certain conversations (e-mail, text, Skype, phone call) and what would be the most timely option best suited for the group involved. 

What makes an effective communications leader?

Effective leaders, in any profession, should be approachable, trustworthy, and proficient listeners. Being able to make team members feel comfortable to express their ideas in a comfortable setting will create the most effective results from the employees. Communications leaders need to have a sense of trust between themselves and the employees, because if an employee knows they are trusted, they will have the ability to work without any barriers and feel comfortable expressing their thoughts.  Another important trait a communications leader should have is the ability to give and receive constructive feedback. Being able to discuss how to make improvements is a key factor in any profession.

If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would they be?

Hard-working, authentic, trustworthy

Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.

I was a member of the Women’s Basketball Team at Grand Valley State University.

What prompted you to join IABC?  How did you hear about us?

Mollye Dietrich is a colleague of mine, who told me about IABC. My membership is going to be included as a part of my professional development this year.  I am going to attend as many sessions as I can, in order to learn more about communications and network as much as possible.

What three (3) things are you most excited to gain from IABC Nashville?

Networking, ideas on content development, and improving my overall grasp on the communications industry. 

Membership Spotlight – Joe Diorio

IABC Nashville periodically spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Joe Diorio,  freelance writer, editor and proofreader. 

 IABC: What is your background? 

Joe: 30-plus years in writing, editing, proofreading. I have worked in marketing communications for corporations (IBM, DuPont), agencies (Ketchum and smaller independent agencies), and higher education (Harcum College, The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development.

I returned to freelance writing in 2017 after deciding to retire early. I say “returned” to freelance writing because I worked for myself as a freelancer from 1991 – 2000. Today I write a free monthly newsletter about good writing called “A Few Words About Words.”

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

Joe: Completely by accident. I had been a newspaper reporter in Connecticut and a friend and co-worker had left newspapers to take a job in corporate P.R. with IBM. He convinced me to send IBM my resume. I was convinced they wouldn’t hire me, so I sent them a resume that I know for certain had at least two typos in it. IBM called me in for an interview anyway, and eventually placed me in a job in Washington, D.C. doing product publicity for IBM. Personal computers were brand new then so doing product P.R. was easy for someone new to the business.

 

 

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have you been in this role?

Joe: I am a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. My work covers all three categories. For example, I’m presently writing about PET/CT scanners for a healthcare client, I’m editing a lot of academic articles, and I am proofreading coaching materials for the USTA.

I’m also the editor and writer of a free monthly email newsletter focusing on good writing called “A Few Words About Words.”

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Joe: I like to say I sell peace of mind. My clients will get good, clean, accurate copy that is very readable. My proofreading and editing work is thorough and reliable.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

Joe: An editor’s editor. (A client used that term to describe me and I liked it a lot.)

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Joe: I turn old, broken guitars, banjos, and mandolins into functional art (shelves, decorative items). I sell them through Etsy.  I have exhibited them at Vanderbilt’s Wond’ry interdisciplinary research center.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

Joe: A person who is 15 or 20 years younger than you can teach you as much as someone 15 or 20 years your senior.

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

Joe: Call me at 9 p.m. on any night; I’ll be at my desk working and can try to answer you.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

Joe: It’s a powerful network of smart and dedicated communications professionals. 

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

Joe: Same reason as the greatest benefit of IABC. Also, as a sole proprietor it’s important to have a connection to other professionals.

Membership Spotlight – Nicole Miller

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Nicole Miller, senior manager of Public Relations at Asurion.

Nicole Headshot - smIABC: What is your background?

Miller: I’ve had a passion for news since I was young, serving as an editor of my high school newspaper and editor-in-chief of the year book. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!), where I majored in Journalism with an emphasis in news writing and public relations. My first job after college was working as a general assignment reporter for a community newspaper in Wisconsin. While there, I learned a lot about what makes a compelling news story and delivering the news under tight deadlines.

IABC: How did you get started in this business?

Miller: I started my PR career at a firm in Milwaukee that specializes in B2B marketing communications. When my main client merged with a national retailer, I was totally bit by the consumer bug and moved to Chicago, where I worked in the consumer PR for a variety of major agencies. I’m a rare PR egg in that I have gained strong experience and expertise in both consumer and B2B PR.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role?

Miller: I currently serve as Senior Manager of Public Relations at Asurion, a global leader in technology protection and support, based in Nashville. My role has been evolving since I joined the company a little over a year ago, but ultimately I’ll be focusing on external corporate PR to help elevate awareness of Asurion’s leadership position within the industry and with national business media.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Miller: Asurion is the global leader in helping customers enhance their life through their technology through ongoing support and protection. Among our continuous innovation is that we’re hyper focused on disrupting the tech support category with world-class customer experience by providing instant access to tech experts to help solve any tech issue with an Asurion covered device. There’s no waiting on hold, no transfers and a near 100 percent resolution rate in one call or chat.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

Miller: Strategic. Curious. Collaborative.

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Miller: My husband and I moved to Nashville from Chicago to be closer to our hobby of caving. Tennessee has more than 10,000 caves, and the tri-state region of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia is a mecca for caving within the United States.

Caving offers a little bit of everything – the beauty and wonder of nature; great physical challenges and an intense teamwork structure. It’s quite common to put your life in your team members’ hands when caving, so trust and team dynamic are vital to the experience.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

Miller:

  • The Communications function is most effective when it closely supports the organization’s key objectives.
  • Make your communications goals actionable and measurable.
  • Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. The usual marketing messages rarely resonate with earned media or within social media.
  • Become an expert in your organization’s (or clients’) industry.
  • Stay current on new communication channels and tactics

IABC: What makes an effective communications leader?

Miller:

  • Mastery of communications channels and tactics.
  • Being up-to-date on the issues, challenges and opportunities within your organization and greater industry.
  • Serving as a trusted advisor to your leadership and team.
  • Curiosity and openness to trying new things as the communications landscape continuous to evolve.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

Miller: I know it’s been said before, but networking and professional development are some of the greatest benefits for me personally.

IABC: What prompted you to join IABC?

Miller: Being new to Nashville, I joined IABC to network and get immersed within the communications community locally. I heard that the Nashville IABC chapter was the most active group for local communications professionals.

Member Spotlight – Lysa Rigo

On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Lysa Rigo, Director, HR & Creative Services at Ingram Barge Company. Lysa and her team recently won their first Music City Gold Pen Award of Excellence for Internal Communications.

Lysa RigoIABC: What is your background? How did you get started in this business?

Rigo: After earning a master’s degree in English at Northern Illinois University, I taught Composition and Business Writing (that’s where I found my passion) for five years. Following that, I gained experience as a technical writer for a mathematical and engineering software firm, and used some of those years to start a small business writing for other businesses who couldn’t afford a writer on staff.

In the mid-1990s, my family moved to Brazil, so I used the opportunity to teach English as a foreign language. When we returned to the States in 2000, I found a job teaching English to students who came to the US solely to improve their English. That enriching experience gained me friends from all over the world, and that’s where I was on 9/11, helping a large group of frightened foreigners try to make sense of something none of us could wrap our minds around.

In the mid-2000s, we moved to Tennessee for my husband’s job. A series of situations led me into a career in human resources where I had to quickly learn how to hire, fire, do payroll and worker’s comp in a plant that was scheduled to shut its doors in nine months. On the last day, I stood alone with the plant manager in an empty building and was faced with the decision of accepting the HR job I was offered or the Communications Specialist role? Communications tugged at my heart, and here I am today.

IABC: What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have you been in this role?

Rigo: I came to Ingram Barge Company 10 years ago to build a Communications department. Today, I am Director, HR & Creative Services. My team does all Corporate Communications and all things creative: web, social, magazines, photos, videos, and many random projects.

IABC: What makes your business/organization stand out?

Rigo: Barging is a silent industry so it doesn’t necessarily stand out, but Ingram does all things with excellence so we’re looked to as the standard on the inland river system; we’re the ones to imitate, the company to work for.

IABC: If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would they be?

Rigo: Empathetic, resilient, and instinctive

IABC: Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Rigo: Probably not surprising, but I became fluent in Portuguese while living in Brazil.

IABC: What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional? What makes an effective communications leader?

Rigo:

  • What I’ve been working on the past year is that it’s OK not to be perfect; none of us are. Details are critical in communications, but it’s so important to let go and let the message shine more loudly than the form.
  • When there are mistakes, don’t beat yourself up over them. Fix them, if needed, and walk proudly forward. So what if the whole organization sees your daily work? Most people will give you grace, so don’t listen to the few who find joy in the “got-yas.”
  • You need to learn from the younger professionals in the field. They may not know all there is in the politics, strategy or big picture, but they know what they want to hear so they will have good ideas for connecting with others like them.

IABC: What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC? What prompted you to join IABC?

Rigo: After developing our Creative Services department, I spent a seven-year hiatus with a focus more on HR than communications, A few years ago, I got a new boss and a reshuffling of duties, and Creative Services became my major focus again. I needed to connect with communications professionals, and Google led me to IABC. I walked into my first meeting and knew I was in the right place. These people get me, and I get them. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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