Who Cares for the Caregivers?

Published: March 25, 2020

Times of crisis separate those who need care from those who provide care. Beyond the obvious healthcare application, anyone delivering professional services is thrust into the role of managing pain of some variety. Teachers, counselors, ministers, attorneys, accountants, advisors and consultants make a living by helping navigate uncharted waters. Each of them carries the weight of the impact of the crisis in their own lives but must stay sufficiently focused to attend to client priorities. So, who takes care of the caregivers?

Anxiety is the primary emotion fueled by the brain’s most primitive region during dangerous times. Fight, freeze and flight instincts take over. 1400 distinct physiological changes are ignited when fear hits the central nervous system. Most of us don’t make our best decisions under these circumstances. 

Learning to maintain a calm baseline is natural for some but must be learned by others. Most relationships, teams and organizations have a few members who are able to stay steady when the world is turning upside down. Those who feel vulnerable or threatened rely heavily on these leaders. Trust is paramount. 

If you are the person on your team upon whom everyone else leans, your wellness is non-negotiable. There are no superhuman abilities that protect you from the consequences of the crisis. You’ve simply been elevated to the caretaker role either by talent or assignment. With that comes a responsibility to stay healthy.

The tools you use are the same ones you teach. Protect your foundation. Seek trusted guidance. Check in on your neighbors. Keep perspective. Manage change. Above all, understand that crises occur in cycles and are always followed by opportunities. Resilience is contagious.

Who takes care of the caretakers? The caretakers take care of the caretakers. They commit to a lifestyle that positions them for action when the need is greatest. They are fueled by sharing resources and support with those whose energy is depleted. Most importantly, they surround themselves with a network of friends, loved-ones, mentors and coaches…who care for them.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.