At this point, I think the world is in agreement that global pandemics are terrible. Even with the advantages of already working as a fully remote company, folks at Tighten still struggle with the realities of working through isolation, finding distinction between what is "home" time and what is "work" time, and trying to hold on to some kind of routine that feels normal.
It is really hard, and that's part of what this blog post acknowledges. Even if you have good support, a very flexible work environment, and an amazing team of humans to work with - these times are Last-Fight-of-the-Game challenging. We all get to find out if we've collected the coping mechanisms we need to come through it with enough health points to declare victory.
To offer a … well, not a cheat code, exactly, but encouragement for everyone in this struggle, I asked my colleagues what advice they've found helpful as they muddle through this long term pandemic. The answers are anonymous, but shared in the hope that something here will make your burden lighter in the knowledge that others are with you through the hard times.
The specific question was "What advice or encouragement do you want to share with others?" Here are answers from my kind-hearted colleagues:
- Re-evaluate that long list of things to do, because most of it doesn't really matter. Find ways to make small moments feel big and special. Talk to other human beings regularly.
- It always gets better, and take the help offered to you (either implicitly or explicitly, including time off or modified work) to get through it.
- Honestly, I don't know what to say. These are hard times. There's a quote I remember when things are tough: "If you are going through hell, keep going."
- Take a moment, and breathe. Constantly overthinking and worrying will not solve your problems. Give yourself a chance to recenter and focus.
- While this has been hard for everyone, I do believe that we need to model resilience for our kids. When we struggle, we need to acknowledge it, take time to care for ourselves, then get back to being strong for them, showing them we can all get through tough times together.
- I wish I had words for this but I am coming up short. Everything I could possibly say seems so cliche. Hang in there, it'll be over soon enough. We have all heard that a million times or so over this past year.
- If you are dealing with depression or sleep loss, get outside and get some sun. Run, walk, ride a bike, or do any activity to reverse the cycle. The hardest step is the first step.
- This will end eventually. Keep going.
- It's okay to not be okay. Make time for yourself, talk about your feelings, relax, and recharge.
- Stop, and take a breath — yeah, it's a trite statement but it really does work. Also, do what you need to do to get through all of this. My own lofty language learning goals have taken a back seat to playing video games and watching stupid videos on YouTube.
- Remember that there's not One True Answer for surviving. We don't have control over everything that happens to us, which is either terrifying or freeing. Terrifying because it makes us realize that we are relatively small in the universe. Freeing, because it means we can STOP spending so much effort trying to control everything. We have agency over ourselves and our responses, and we can respond to the things that happen with our highest values. Love. Kindness. Empathy. Even in isolating times, we can practice that on ourselves.
- Just take it one day at a time, do what you can, and try not to stress about the rest.
- Try to find things you are grateful for, even small things. This could be as simple as a couple of minutes standing in the sun or a simple gesture by a loved one. Keeping a gratitude journal can improve your overall mood and increase optimism about the future. When I find myself in a bit of a funk and want to get out of it, I may try doing something nice for someone else. It's very uplifting to make someone else's day.
- Forgive yourself for not meeting whatever goals or feelings you wish you were having now, or had over the last year. Find a project or activity that calms you and has promise of helping you find flow and nurture that activity.
- What worked before the pandemic may not work now. What worked in month one, or five, or eleven of the pandemic may not work now. Keep figuring out what you and your family and your body and your soul need.
There you have it, some encouragement from all of us at Tighten, as we all continue working through a pandemic. We wish you health, perseverance, and grace.
Author's Note: Mental wellness is one of the hardest things to maintain in these times. If you are struggling and need immediate help, here are some resources that may help you:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://nami.org/Support-Education
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
National Health: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/mental-health-services/mental-health-get-help.html