There really is something healing about a hug! We have greatly missed teaching in-person and seeing friends and family, but have definitely learned to appreciate the small moments that build connection like a hug, handshake, sitting close during a conversation, and being able to actually see a smile (that isn’t covered by a mask!).
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.
As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interviewLisa Thompson and Libby Rapin.
Libby Rapin and Lisa Thompson are the co-founders of BluWave Wellbeing and together have a combined 18+ years of experience leading human resources and communication teams in both start-up and enterprise level organizations. Their journeys to wellbeing, after reaching the point of burnout and exhaustion, led them to rediscover the childlike wonder of playfulness to help them heal. As they began to live with a more playful spirit, they both began to thrive, and so BluWave’s mission was born; to make wellbeing achievable, and playfully simple.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
Lisa Thompson: I was born and raised in a small town in Michigan, am the middle child and have the most supportive parents around (I am so lucky!). Looking back, I was definitely the goofy child, wearing mixed matched clothes, playing in puddles, and having an imagination like no other. Throughout my child, I definitely went through my phases of having a tom-boy look, then the ‘trying to fit in look,’ back to tom-boy look and it wasn’t until I was grown up, that I was finally confident in who I was. I think back to multiple times when I was shy to say what I thought because I wanted to fit in, habits I created were motivated by an external audience and not my own, and the list continues.
Libby Rapin: I was born and raised in Michigan and grew up the oldest of four, so I remember always trying to be very responsible and set a good example for the younger siblings. My siblings and I loved to dress up in old dance costumes and host dance routine shows for our parents. I was also a crafty kid and loved doing all sorts of art projects (my mom always had the ultimate craft ideas!). I was really into sports when I was younger, but soccer was my ultimate jam! I remember being a kid who was a rule follower, a bit of a perfectionist, if I’m being honest, and I was always rushing around multitasking and trying to get things done quickly. I share that because those tendencies came with me into adulthood, which ultimately led me to my current path.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
We work from home and at our co-working space, so we split our time between the two. Before COVID-19, we were already working from home, however, we both feel more productive and energized when we are working from the office, so it was an adjustment having to work together virtually versus sitting next to each other.
Since we were spending more time working at home, we learned first and foremost how much we prefer to work in person together. We also learned how to be more disciplined with setting boundaries around work hours, making sure we took breaks, and admittedly, how to control our snacking habits (why does working from home make you want to go to the cupboard more often?!).
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
As trainers and public speakers, we thrive off of the adrenaline we experience when we are leading workshops or giving a keynote, and it connects us to our purpose. So, we are really missing in-person events. We miss the freedom of being able to go to restaurants, coffee shops, over to friend’s and family’s houses and out with friends. We have also greatly missed international travel adventures as we are both world travelers.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
Oh wow, great question! As mental health advocates, we hold the intention that we will see a massive shift in the de-stigmatization of mental health in the workplace. Stress and anxiety are surging in the midst of COVID-19, so as more people experience emotional difficulties, mental health may become more de-stigmatized. Ultimately, employers and individuals will need to take a closer look at how mental health is being viewed and put action steps in place to create cultures where people feel safe talking about mental health and the wellbeing of employees is prioritized.
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
One major impact we have seen is that the workplace is being ‘humanized.’ What we mean by this is that workplaces are becoming more flexible in their policies and accommodations to allow for greater balance in managing personal and work demands. It’s beautiful to think about how we now look forward to guest appearances by pets and children on video conferencing meetings and more people are intentionally finding ways to care for themselves in order to meet the demands of life. This is bringing greater levels of empathy and compassion to the workplace.
The term ‘social distancing’ was used at the beginning of COVID-19, but many people quickly realized the negative impact of this ‘philosophy’ on their lives, so began using the term ‘physical distancing.’ People realized they didnt need to social distance, but rather physical distance, so found new and creative ways to stay connected with loved ones (i.e. drive by birthday parties and family video conferencing parties for the holidays). While we were physically distanced, we felt, and many agree, that many relationships were actually strengthened.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
Well, to be honest, there were days where we were emotional wrecks, so we were figuring this all out with the rest of society. However, we did learn a lot and have been so thankful for the toolbox of resources we have acquired over the years from working in the wellbeing space. Here are some of our go-to techniques that helped us keep a positive mindset.
- Stay focused on what you can control. We control how we react to situations, the foods we eat, getting enough sleep and making time for movement to help keep us in optimal health. We had to stay laser focused on what we could control, and not what we couldn’t.
- Honor where you are at and validate emotions. Many times people want to suppress and invalidate their emotions, however, that does more long term damage. Remind yourself that this experience is simply a moment in time.
- Practice gratitude. Shift your mindset away from the things you don’t have, and focus on all you do have.
- Take the nap! Stress and fear suck energy out of us, so if you are tired, just take the nap! Everything else can wait.
- Make time for play and get out of your comfort zone. COVID-19 has been a great time to learn a new hobby, try a new food, or to just do something that brings out your inner child (like a dance party in the middle of the living room — we had plenty of these!).
- Get outdoors! Nature is healing, so make time to get some vitamin D and fresh air!
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
Not seeing loved ones was very hard. We both have large families, and young nephews, so it was really hard missing out on spending quality time with them. We really grew to realize the power our interpersonal relationships have on our wellbeing.
Additionally, there were days where we felt like we were out of control of our lives. This felt really disempowering, however, over time we remembered that empowerment is a mindset, and we were actually in control the whole time.
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
We both learned so much about ourselves, but here is what came to mind first.
- THE POWER OF HUMAN TOUCH: We can probably all admit we had no idea how healing human-to-human contact and interactions were until it was suddenly taken away from us. There really is something healing about a hug! We have greatly missed teaching in-person and seeing friends and family, but have definitely learned to appreciate the small moments that build connection like a hug, handshake, sitting close during a conversation, and being able to actually see a smile (that isn’t covered by a mask!).
- PLAYFULNESS IS A GAMECHANGER: When was the last time you did something playful? The sadness, anger, fear, confusion, stress and anxiety COVID-19 brought on forced both of us to intentionally sprinkle bursts of joy throughout our day. We had dance parties in our houses, experimented with cooking and baking and made it a point to do things we loved doing. We held each other accountable to making time for play and when one of us was having a bad day, the other would ask, ‘have you played today?’ Funny enough, this simple question has stuck around, and we have even began asking our friends and family this question. Now, they are giving us a taste of our own medicine and starting to ask this question back at us!
- SELF-CARE IS A CHOICE: We don’t want to think about what life would be like without our self-care rituals and our decision to prioritize our mental health and wellbeing. That’s a scary thought! We know that in order to share our greatest gift with the world, OURSELVES, we have to make sure our own cup is full. It is easy to get caught up in stress and fear, to put others’ needs before our own, and continue to do things that drain us, however, COVID-19 reiterated for us the importance of self-care, and that it is a choice that we all have the power to make.
- CHOOSE TO SEE THE GOOD: There were days where we would call each other and just vent about the circumstances we were under. We would allow each other a few minutes to release the anger, vent or complain, but then one of us would always ask something along the lines of, “do you think you can eventually see the beauty in this experience…” and we would flip our mindset to see the good. We consciously had to remind each other to choose positivity and to see the good around us. We choose to be optimistic, hopeful, grateful and positive, and you have that same choice.
- LOOSEN THE REIGNS: Humans love to control. We love to control everything and have the most perfect plan in place. However, COVID-19 taught us the importance of ‘loosening the reins’ to life a little more. We are both planners, but we realized the best thing we could do for our business was to stay present and in the moment. Regulations were constantly changing, and so we learned to ‘loosen the reigns,’ trust and surrender to the circumstances and to stay focused on our purpose — to make wellbeing achievable and playfully simple. We stayed focused on the vision of helping people and unexpected opportunities arose. Thanks to COVID-19, we made many changes to our business model that we may have never made had we been holding on too tightly to the reigns. There has been so much beauty in the personal and professional changes we have both experienced.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
Over the pandemic we have continued to remind ourselves and others to “give yourself, and others, some grace.” This is very relevant to the pandemic because now, more than ever, we have had to give ourselves grace during uncertainty and change, as well as showing grace to others. As we shared in previous responses, we need to humanize the workplace and appreciate those around us more than ever before.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
We have many people that inspire us. We basically geek out over amazing individuals who have built businesses from the ground up, have created a strong impact on society and have a playful mindset. Sara Blakely, SPANX founder, is a person whom we adore in many ways. We would love to have coffee and learn from her as she has built an empowering empire helping women and was her authentic through the process. Since we love both coffee and lunch, we would love to have lunch with Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS. Blake’s approach to business through the lens of social impact is truly inspiring and our hope with our business is to find a way to collaborate with him someday.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We would love readers to continue to follow our work! There are a few ways to do this, first through LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (no we do not have a TikTok yet), visit our website at www.bluwavewellbeing.com or email us at [email protected].
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.