Permission To Rest: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about permission to rest on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

How can you give yourself permission to rest and what are its benefits?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

#21: Unused Vacation – My Crazy Office, Season 7

Kathi and Katherine talk about unused vacation on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice to someone who fears that their absence while on vacation will jeopardize their job.

Then we discuss what managers should do with employees that are resistant to take time off.

The Next Transition – Back to the Office

As some of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic begin to lift, and some people cautiously begin to return to their work environments, we are tasked with the job of managing yet another period of transition. It is the transition from the safety and predictability of our quarantined home environments to the uncertainty and potential risks of the outside world. It’s the transition from the daily routines and practices that we have established while sheltering in place, to the new routines and practices that involve people and things outside of the home.

Even if you are still working from home, you are probably in transition. You and members of your family may now be interacting more with the world at large by venturing out to see friends, visit stores, go to restaurants, travel short distances, or participate in outdoor events. 

Transitions can be tricky. They can bring up a range of feelings – from fear and anxiety to impatience and irritability.  Transitions heighten our emotional reactions; they put us a little more on edge.

If, for example, you are returning to your office after several months away, just the thought of returning to your former work setting may set off both excitement and anxiety. If you see that one of your coworkers is less cautious than you are regarding social distancing, you may feel a flash of anger or fear. As you head to the office, you may experience a sense of dread – even though you know that your company is putting all of the necessary safety precautions in place. 

Are you in transition? Are aspects of your home life and work life changing? If so, here are a few suggestions for how to manage emotional ups and downs that may come with change: 

  • Appreciate that change, even positive change, is disruptive.

As difficult as the past few months have been, you managed to carve out a routine and to establish new patterns of living. Now, you have to change the mix of activities again. It may be great to expand your world, but stressful at the same time.

  • Do things to help yourself calm down and cool off.

Releasing pent up energy through exercise, walking, dancing, working out, biking, etc., remains one of the best self-care things you can do, but it’s especially valuable during times of transition. If you have an exercise routine, stick to it. If not, consider developing some kind of physical outlet to calm your nerves and lower your emotional temperature.

  • Decide which healthy routines you want to keep in place.

You may have developed some good habits over the past few months. Better eating, more family time, shorter workdays, time for hobbies. As you transition out of sheltering in place, retain the routines that you value. It will help you feel a greater sense of comfort and control.

  • Get extra rest.

As you consider re-entering your former work environment, your mind will be working double time preparing for and planning your next steps. Your body and brain will benefit if you commit to getting plenty of sleep (if possible), and finding time to unwind at the end of the day. 

Managing transitions during normal times can be challenging. During these unpredictable times, changing your working and living patterns may be both welcome and stressful. Give yourself credit for being in transition, and take care of your mind and body as you move forward.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at for any further help around this topic.

Take Your Vacation! Even In A Pandemic

Remember the good old days of summer, when we had summer Fridays off and two-week vacations that we planned all year long? If you are like me, you have a favorite spot; mine is on Fire Island. Nothing fancy, but a small cabin on a private beach with a really good restaurant. It’s a total release into peace and rejuvenation. Got the picture? I’m sure you have your slice of heaven as well.

Well for most of us, that will have to wait another year. In the meantime, what is your organization doing? Encouraging you to take the time off? Still keeping summer hours? I sure hope so. Just because we won’t be flying or traveling beyond a road trip, doesn’t mean we don’t need to take time for our well-being.

Time off is important. I’ll say it again for those of you who speed-read. Time off is important. It’s important for our physical and mental health. The concept of a staycation, a Canadian term coined in 2004, has never meant as much as it does today. Take your summer Fridays off. Take your vacation time off. Take your PTO time off. Take whatever your company is giving and use it for yourself. 

Let’s consider a few ways to use your time off to rejuvenate and refresh.

But first, you must obey the Three Laws of Vacation by K Squared:

1 – Do not check your email or do any work. (If you must, make it once a day.)

2 – If your work involves screen time (of course it does) stay off your screen.

3 – Detach from work – do not think about it. (Read Working with You Is Killing Me to learn how to detach.)

Here are a few ideas that can help you stay off email, limit your screen time and detach from work:

  • Hiking – It might be a road trip, or maybe you have trails where you live. Look for something less traveled or less known.
  • Home Spa – Who doesn’t need a mani-pedi or a facial? Take a long hot bath with soft music, candles and essential oils.
  • Games – crossword puzzles, puzzles, board games, words with friends.
  • Ordering in from restaurants that you have never tried – Maybe a higher quality or something you have wanted to try but have not gotten around to it.
  • Cooking from an online food service. Order online from Blue Apron, Eataly, Omaha steaks, or any service you’ve wanted to try. Use their recipes and ingredients to have a new experience. 
  • Day trip scenic drives – Take in some history or visit something beautiful.
  • Self-care day at home – Sleep in, have a glass of wine early in the day. Watch TV.  Stay in bed and meditate.

Staycations are not like traveling to my place on Fire Island where the environment takes you in. Staycations take effort, focus and vigilance. You need to be creative and resourceful enough to not let boredom, work, and just doing nothing take over. Plan your time off and use it to your benefit. The effort and planning will pay off.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at for any further help around this topic.

Being Kind to Your Emotionally Exhausted Self

So here we are. For many people this is week six (or more) of sheltering in place.

It’s also week six of home schooling, endless meal preparation, social isolation, working remotely, and celebrating almost every occasion we can think of virtually – on Zoom, Google Chat, FaceTime, Skype and whatever other device or platform appeals to you.

For some, the past six weeks have included sudden, tragic losses of family members or friends. For others, the losses have involved employment, income, daily routines, human contact, favorite past-times or any sense of normalcy. It’s been rough.

As a collective population, we are tired. We keep trying to figure out where we are headed, and when we will be able to return to some form of our pre-Corona lives. In the meantime, we have to manage the feelings of loss, frustration, anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety that are “normal” during a pandemic of these proportions.

While we wait for the next phase of this very strange time, I encourage everyone to find just a few simple ways to be kind to your emotionally exhausted self.  

Here’s what being kind to your emotionally exhausted self could look like:

You stop for a minute every day, and give yourself credit for all you are doing to keep your life (and that of your family and friends) intact.

You take time to cool your system down by going on an extra walk, taking a full lunch break, or enjoying a longer-than-normal shower.

You protect yourself from overworking by instating email curfews — no reading or responding to emails after 10 pm. No opening emails in the morning until you’re out of bed.

You take time to reach out to the people who are able to hear you complain and are gifted at making you laugh. 

You make sure to read, watch, or listen to something pleasurable before going to bed.

You help yourself get better sleep by listening to a meditation or relaxation podcast designed for that purpose.

You forgive yourself for being overly sensitive or irritable during the day. And you forgive others for the same thing.

Being kind to your emotionally exhausted self recognizes that this has already been a long haul, that you have done your best to weather it, and that you will surely continue to carry on. I encourage you to try one or all of these tactics as an act of kindness – your exhausted self with thank you.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at for any further help around this topic.


This is A Marathon, Not A Sprint – How to Manage Your Emotions During the Pandemic

One message that we are all hearing over and over again is that the current state of affairs is going to last for a while. It’s clear that, from an emotional endurance point of view, we are looking at a situation that is more of a marathon than a sprint. With that in mind, here are some tips for managing your emotional and mental health while living and working with the pandemic.

  • Make room for grief – Last week, the Harvard Business Review published an excellent article entitled, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.” ( It explained that due to the range of losses resulting from the pandemic (income, routine, sense of safety, human connection, life) we are in a collective state of grief. Grief has different stages. There’s denial, anger/blame, bargaining, sadness/depression, and acceptance/renewal. We are all cycling through these feelings on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Making room for grief means that when you feel enraged by a co-worker who arrives late for a conference call, you realize that your reaction may not just be about his tardiness. It may also be your experience of grief. 
  • Take time to rest – One of the best ways to address feelings of grief and to protect your immune system is through rest. Rest is accomplished whenever we turn down the volume on our digital lives, and engage in something restorative. Rest can involve a good night’s sleep, a daytime nap, a walk outside, an exercise or yoga routine, 10 minutes of meditation, cooking, or a chat with a friend. You may feel rested when you listen to music, play an instrument, take a bath, read a book, or watch your favorite movie or video. Whatever restores your energy and relaxes your brain, schedule time to do it.
  • Practice compassionate self-discipline – Given the degree of upheaval that you are probably experiencing, it may be challenging to be as self-disciplined as you were pre-Corona. Compassionate self-discipline encourages you to maintain as many healthy practices as you can — wake up at the same hour, dress for work, eat well (if you can), exercise, meditate, plan your day. At the same time, compassionate self-discipline understands that there may be days and circumstances when all of those practices get kicked to the curb. Compassionate self-discipline aims to keep you healthy without beating you up. 
  • Forgive yourself and others for slips – We are all living under extremely stressful times, and each person’s stressors are slightly different. It’s important to understand that you and the people in your life (coworkers, bosses, family members, friends) are probably having emotional slips from time to time. Feelings of fear, anger, anxiety and sadness may morph into harsh remarks, obsessive behavior, forgotten promises, shut down emotions, and heated arguments. This is a time to take a deep breath and let go of things said in the heat (or cold) of the moment. Chances are that you and the people in your life are emotionally exhausted; everyone is doing the best that they can.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at for any further help around this topic.