When crisis hits, we all go into fight-or-flight mode. Our guard is up, emotions run high, stress levels soar, anxiety calls up depression and they hunker down for the long haul.
It gives me a genuine mood boost when I receive a kind message from a client or friend because I appreciate the effort it took for them to send it. A good thought and a thoughtful gesture go such a long way for both parties to rip us out of the doom and gloom, while putting us in a more positive mindset.
There is no better time to show compassion to yourself, your coworkers, your families and your friends. It can be through small or larger gestures – but make sure it happens for your sake, and theirs.
Psychological distress and mental health are a personal concern of mine, especially as the COVID fog lifts and we see the long-term effects of isolation. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help guide you and boost your quarantine spirits!
This is not a race or a competition of who has it worse. When someone opens up to you about their challenges, never compare. Comparing their experience to something worse gives a sense of diminishing, judgement and guilt. If your reaction start with “At least you’re not…” stop yourself. You may be offering insight to a silver lining, but it does more damage than good. Listen, show compassion through empathy, and just be there and listen.
A coworker hired a babysitter. That’s not social distancing! A friend had a food delivery. That could be contaminated! It’s very easy to fall into a judgemental mindset. It’s no secret that in stressful situations, our compassion goes out the window. At the heart of it all, we must remind ourselves that each one of us is doing the best we can with the support system and resources we have.
A personal COVID pet peeve has been the expectations set out that productivity should remain the same during a time where work-from-home (WFH ) is encouraged. It’s as if we need to live up to the productivity we had when everything was relatively ok. This is not the case, and it’s ok to acknowledge this. People are stretched – financially, mentally, physically – and pretending that they’re not isn’t helping anyone. Don’t be afraid to say your truth, live your reality, and do the very best you can given your unique circumstances without apologies, fear or shame. You are not alone.
Reaching out to those you work with or love is always welcome. A key teaching of communication in a time of crisis is that there is no such thing as over-communication. Check up on those closest to you and let them know you’re thinking of them. This simple gesture will do both of you a world of good in the long run, and even strengthen even the most fragile relationships.
DO Show Generosity
Over and above the thank you notes and personalized gifts, there are gestures of generosity that tap into compassion and empathy. For example, giving someone the benefit of the doubt that they truly are doing their best with they have is a rare gift. Stepping away from judgement and understanding that we all see the world differently… is actually ok. That’s a gift in times when anxiety rules.
Coping mechanisms vary from person to person – from introverts to extroverts, the way we each cope with stress and anxiety in times of crisis need to be respected. For some us it means spending more time on social media to feel connected, for others it’s colouring or reading through hundreds of books. However we do it, it’s always what works best for us. Acknowledge it, do what you have to do, as others do what they have to do to get through this.
It’s easy to fall into bad, hurtful habits when our energy is drained and we’re under constant stress and anxiety. Practicing to show more compassion and empathy through this crisis by connecting and setting judgement aside can only strengthen our society as a whole.