If there's anything we learned working through the pandemic it's that humans can acclimate to almost anything. Perhaps one of the most pervasive challenges we faced was the accompanying mental health fallout. According to this survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of adults reported that stress and worry affected their mental health and also led to an increased consumption of drugs and alcohol, poor eating habits, and interrupted sleep in some people. A coping skill we learned that will have relevancy moving forward is to check in often with the people around us—to connect as well as support one another. Here’s how to make sure the people you work with are doing alright without overstepping boundaries.
Schedule Regular Update Meetings.
Meeting with your co-workers regularly is always important. Not only does it help to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page regarding projects, deliverables, etc., but it’s also helpful to check in on what everyone’s workload is. If your workload feels a little light, you can learn which of your teammates can use your eyes and hands on their projects. Making sure that no one is overwhelmed by work is a transferable skill that every manager needs. And don't be afraid to ask your own supervisor or team for a regular call so that you can share any issues you may be having and get help prioritizing.
Check in Casually on a Regular Basis.
Even if you can’t meet with your co-workers over a Zoom call regularly, just saying “hi” on Slack or through text can be a great way to keep energies up and a connection strong. When work has got you pulling your hair out, there’s nothing like a quick chat with a work friend to perk you back up and put your feet on the ground. So make sure you reach out to your work friends—ask if they’ve seen that movie you guys were talking about a few weeks ago, what they thought of the book they read, or if their virtual game night yesterday was fun. It doesn’t have to be serious—but you might be surprised on how readily your co-workers open up to you when you show an interest in their lives.
Share Your Own Situation Too.
This is a tip usually aimed at leaders, but I find it works equally well for everyone on the team. Sharing your own struggles helps you form connections. Not because misery loves company, but because we humans bond over common experiences. Sharing the way you deal with your challenges can help your colleagues to feel more comfortable in opening up to you as well. That said, trust me when I say it’s better to be interested rather than interesting—so be sure to listen as much as you share.
While none of us will miss the challenges of working during a pandemic, it focused a needed spotlight on self-care and mental health in the workplace. I think we all learned to be kinder and more patient with those around us—including the people we work with—and these are qualities we will take with us with moving forward.
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