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Women’s Leadership Panel: Self-care and balance during a pandemic

Oct 5, 2020

The Water Tower

The pandemic has been a tough time for many as we are all becoming accustomed to a new “normal.” Life has taken drastic turns for some, and for others this time has been filled with nothing but uncertainty, stress, and anxiety. The Water Tower hosted a free virtual event featuring panelists Cindy Wallis-Lage, Dr. Channah Rock, and Jackie Henderson on September 22, 2020 to offer some advice and helpful tips on how to navigate during this uncertain time.

The panel titled, “Women’s Leadership Panel: Self-care and balance during a pandemic” served as a place where women (and a few men) could discuss the ups and downs of the pandemic while offering support and advice to one another.

At the beginning of the panel, the women attending participated in an exercise where they were asked to describe how the pandemic has made them feel. Some common feelings in the exercise were anxiety, stressed but optimistic, overwhelmed, lack of control, and fatigue. Uncertainty was by far one of the most common feelings felt during the pandemic.

Jackie Henderson, Founder of the MIST program, offered many helpful tips on how to take back control and keep your immune system healthy. Exercise, proper diet, and getting enough sleep are not only great self-care tips but are also ways to help the immune system. She urged the women to “take care of yourself so that you can get the rest you need.” She suggested taking an extra 30 minutes in the morning and at night to dedicate to doing something you enjoy. “Whether its journaling, exercising or even drinking a cup of tea, try to do some things that get you back to yourself.” To help with sleeping, Henderson suggested turning off screens an hour or so before bed and demonstrated several breathing techniques.

Dr. Channah Rock, Professor at the University of Arizona, encouraged participants to not feel defeated or anxious. “Everyone has their days. Some days I am optimistic. Some days are unmotivated, and I find it hard to get through certain tasks.” It’s okay to take a step back, and say no. It’s important to not take on too much. Dr. Rock also expressed how difficult it has been trying to balance working from home with being a mom and helping her daughter with virtual class at the same time. It can be tricky to navigate, but tips she offered to the women listening include to give yourself some grace, find little things in the day that make you feel fulfilled, and check on others during these unprecedented times.

Cindy Wallis-Lage, President of Water Business at Black & Veatch, spoke on how the pandemic has affected the workplace. The transition from in-person to virtual has been tricky for so many. We have had to learn a whole new way to work. It’s been difficult figuring out how to work from home and manage family and kids at the same time. “It’s been hard for us to make the shift from work life and home life due to there being no line of separation between them.” Now, they are both done at the same time, in the same place. This can lead to feeling burnt out from always having to multitask. Her advice on how to counter this is to simply allow yourself the time to work through what your feeling. Don’t try to push the uncertainty, anxiety, and stress under the rug. Feel them, learn from them, overcome them.

The session concluded with attendees listing ways that they are going to practice self-care and better balance their lives. The panelists also gave several helpful tips on how to combat feelings of stress. Suggestions include:

  • Dancing for 15 minutes per day
  • Sticking to working hours
  • Calling a friend to check in or catch up
  • Exercising and yoga
  • Establishing a new routine
  • Making time to develop new hobbies
  • Cooking new foods
  • Not watching the news
  • Reading fiction instead of newsfeeds
  • Spending time outdoors

In addition, here are some great links for a virtual dance class and yoga exercises:

The panel ended of a note of hope. Although times are especially hard, it is a great opportunity to lean on each other, help a friend or coworker in need, and above all, remember that we’re all human.

The Water Tower is a new breed of innovation center providing answers to a multitude of complex challenges facing the water industry through an integrated approach to applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and stakeholder engagement. With its mission to be a thriving ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research, and powered by pioneers, The Water Tower is especially invested in helping utilities devise strategies to benefit from digital advancements in water supply and quality. For more information visit


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