Can we normalize saying “I need a moment” at work?

11 min readFeb 4, 2022
Bob Embleton / Overwhelmed Flood sign, Upton-upon-Severn / CC BY-SA 2.0

I am not a calm person. Now I can handle stress pretty decently, can be the positive, motivating voice in an emergency, and I can “fire-fight” like no tomorrow, all skills I developed incredibly young. But those skills came from necessity, not something that comes naturally or that I sought out. My childhood had a lot to it and the fact I work to try and fix healthcare in the US is probably driven by survivor’s guilt is not lost on me.

But calm, collected, cautious are not words I would ever use to describe myself. I do focus on being proactive because having to be reactive drains me. Just because I can ride the rapids, doesn’t mean I want to do it all the time. When I am in reactive mode I focus on staying in the boat, maintaining the boat, grabbing anyone I see out of the boat or falling out of the boat and looking to see if and when I need to steer to either get to calmer waters or a safer experience. That becomes my focus. Which means there are things I can miss, especially if I am the one steering. Like the scenery. Like what can be happening on shore. Now, I’m not knocking that approach, it gets me, and those I need to get through, the rapids of life. But when I am in that mode too long, it drains me. And I need a moment.

We are living in a time of constant rapids. Two years of a lot of strain we really have no control over. Adjusting to this new world is difficult even in the best of circumstances. And often they haven’t been the best for most people. Then add in the pressures of work and family and it is a lot. And without a personal life that for many people, is so small in comparison to what it was in the before times, this leaves a limited amount of pressure release valves for people to have healthy ways to unwind.

As the great resignation keeps plugging along, I can’t help but think one of the biggest reasons for it is the absolute unrealistic expectations companies and their workers have of themselves and each other. We need to acknowledge we are human. And that means having working environments that have the psychological safety built in to let people have a moment. To let them experience actual emotion in a way that can be processed in a healthy manner. It means letting them set boundaries for themselves on how they are treated and how they interact with others. Yes, work…


Passionate about Value-Based Health Care, Analytics, Tech and Pop Culture