I hope that you, your family, friends, colleagues and communities are safe and well. Over the weekend, I was enjoying a change of pace from the recent teleworking routine by getting some much-needed outdoor activity; it was a beautiful Saturday morning. I began thinking about all the women in dairy who have essential jobs during this pandemic; not just jobs in the office or on a production line, but jobs as caretakers, protectors, teachers, cleaners, chefs, activities directors, etc. Relative to all your roles and responsibilities, none is more important than caring for yourself.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a good friend who has had a positive impact on me, and I feel it might be helpful to you during these times. We discussed living in an information age in which the amount of information coming at us can be overwhelming. All of us are receiving messages at a pace and volume that is unprecedented. The mixture of the continuous, and sometimes conflicting information focused on the pandemic, combined with the information exchange associated with your workplace role of receiving, interpreting, and implementing policies and planning, is something difficult to anticipate. This non-stop stream of information acts as a constant pounding on the human senses, which can raise stress levels that negatively impact us mentally, emotionally, and physically.   

"Feel the freedom to stop and step away. Sometimes the thing that is needed most is to pause and engage in time outside of this virtual world."

- Tracy Boyle

As we discussed this, my thoughts turned to the consistent and exceptional performance that you have exhibited through highly adverse conditions for nearly two months. The advice that was given to me that I thought might be helpful was simple. During these times, it’s imperative that you guard your mind and keep it as fresh as possible. My response was, “Guard my mind?” He responded, as leaders, managers, or team members, we must take responsibility for keeping our minds sharp and effective so we can make clear-eyed decisions that support the people that count on us. Essentially, he talked about managing the pace of your leadership and responsibilities. The constant updates on the pandemic, its impact on society and specifically the economy, and the focus on the uncertainty of the future, won’t change anything about it or provide you with any greater control. 

To control this pace, I encourage you to feel the freedom to stop and step away. Sometimes the thing that is needed most is to pause and engage in time outside of this virtual world. Whether you spend time talking with a family member, walk outside to enjoy the freshness of a new day, binge on a good TV show, experience a new book or exercise, do what you need to do. Your colleagues, staff and families need you at your best now more than ever; so be the best you can be – first, to yourself. 

I greatly appreciate all the work you do and hope that the time comes soon where we can meet in person and reflect on this experience, and use the current times to make us have a more positive focus on the importance of how we connect and treat one another as people. 

Take care of yourself.

IDFA's Women in Dairy brings established leaders together with young professionals to create a forum that fosters mentoring, supports development, builds networking opportunities, and encourages leadership. Learn more about the program here, and join today.