Giving Thanks-One Mental Health Exercise at a Time
As the US heads into the holiday season with COVID-19 surging all over the country, people are grappling with new fears about isolation, worrying about themselves or a loved one getting sick, or losing their job or business as states implement a new wave of strict shutdowns. Millions of Americans are still unemployed from the first wave of the pandemic. Their savings are drained, and there's no government assistance insight. Add the real possibility that kids may be stuck with at-home learning indefinitely. It's a pressure cooker ready to explode. Maybe more than any other year in memory, this holiday season may be the time to focus on finding your inner-strength to overcome the pandemic's darkest days. Hate to say it, but it looks like, "Winter is here."
There’s always a yin and yang to the holiday season. Seasonal celebrations with family and friends can be great times of happiness and good cheer, but they’re also often mixed with stress and anxiety. That crazy uncle you try to avoid at the dinner table… your family on the opposite end of the political spectrum… introducing a new relationship… or just the tension of trying to make it “the perfect holiday.” This darker side of holiday stress can be overwhelming, even in an ordinary year.
But this year has been far from normal. We have yet to experience the full psychological effect of the nine-month-long pandemic, but experts have forecasted a tsunami of mental health issues is about to crest.
As the US heads into the holiday season with COVID-19 surging all over the country, people are grappling with new fears about isolation, worrying about themselves or a loved one getting sick, or losing their job or business as states implement a new wave of strict shutdowns. Millions of Americans are still unemployed from the first wave of the pandemic. Their savings are drained, and there’s no government assistance insight. Add the real possibility that kids may be stuck with at-home learning indefinitely. It’s a pressure cooker ready to explode. Maybe more than any other year in memory, this holiday season may be the time to focus on finding your inner-strength to overcome the pandemic’s darkest days. Hate to say it, but it looks like, “Winter is here.”
As a leader, you might be tempted to go heads down and just get through the next six weeks. But it’s essential to take a moment to look at your team or organization and ask them how they are feeling. Distracted team members will be less productive and unable to meet their goals or complete their projects on time or at all, which helps no one. Understanding that these are not normal times, and taking a moment in your weekly team meetings or 1:1s to check-in about how they feel as we move into the holiday season is essential to being a responsible leader. Perhaps this is the time to implement some team exercises that can help ease their anxiety and build camaraderie.
As the eternal holiday optimist Clark Griswold puts it, “We’re all in this together. This a full-blown, 4-alarm holiday emergency here.”
The Heath and Human Services Agency (HHSA) provides a bevy of mental health techniques to help individuals deal with anxiety and stress, particularly now with COVID-19. One solution they recommend is to write down all the things you are thankful for. This allows the brain to divert the attention being spent on doomsday images and focus on the positive things that are happening in your life. This list will enable you to take a step back and assess whether the anxiety you are feeling is actually warranted.
Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, the team at GMN thought it was a perfect time to implement this simple technique during our team call. We came up with our collective list to share with you what we are thankful for in 2020. We encourage you to do the same, whether in a group or individually. Mental health is important, and remember this is just a chapter in our lives; it is not the whole story.
What we are thankful for in 2020 at GMN:
- Friends and family: “After spending my entire life in the Bay Area, I used to flirt with the idea of moving to a new place. I have realized this past year how important it has been to have my extended family nearby. They have been invaluable for me to lean on during these challenging times, even if it was to lend a roll of toilet paper.”-Thuy Vu, Founder, and President of GMN
- Humanity: “Looking back on 2020, I have a fresh appreciation for humanity’s resilience and creativity. While this pandemic has been tough, it’s been inspiring to see how people have come together and invented some really creative ways to cope, adapt, and help each other get through this.” –Jay Fiore, Founder, and COO of GMN
- The Global Mentor Network: “I am thankful for my job and the people I work with at GMN. I feel challenged and not stuck in a rut trying to get through the day as some of my friends. I feel like I have a purpose and contribute to something greater than me. I am grateful for a compassionate team of colleagues that are all rallied around the same mission and goals”-Priyanka Advani-Founder Product Manager of GMN
- Appreciating Change: It’s been a tough year, but I am embracing the season of change. I moved to a new town in the midst of COVID, and I am so grateful for the new friends I have made and how welcoming and kind strangers have been to me during times of hardship.” Connor Koch, Marketing and Operations Manager of GMN
- School reopening: “I am incredibly grateful that my children’s’ schools reopened safely this Fall. They took all of the right precautions, and even though there have been reported cases of COVID-19, the safety measures they put in place avoided outbreaks and have remained isolated events. Our children’s mental health of being back to school in-person has been the greatest gift this year. We know we are lucky and we hope all schools will reopen in the coming months.”-Kate White, Digital Marketing Manager of GMN