Just a few weeks ago we “celebrated” the one-year anniversary of the day when much of America was forced to shut down. Where in 2008 came the Great Recession, 2020 offered the Great Pause… where much of the United States closed down operations for days, weeks, and months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The months and year that followed included social unrest and a presidential election that felt like it was dividing us one neighbor, friend and family member at a time.
For some, the shutdown offered a much-needed respite from the rat race and harried pace of everyday life, for others an anxiety-induced panic about toilet paper shortages. Regardless of where you fell on (or outside) this spectrum, chances are when the 12-month mark came you took some time or way to acknowledge what a crazy year it really had been.
Perhaps you’re still feeling the impact of it. I know I am. I find myself processing a lot of what has happened in our nation, state, community and home over the last year. I also find myself beyond exhausted – Zoomed out, emotionally spent – AND simultaneously wanting things to get back to normal.
Through conversations with colleagues, clients, friends and family I’ve heard a lot of similar rumblings and I wanted to share in case you can relate, need to hear that others are (still) experiencing struggle as well or know someone who does.
- It’s okay to (still) not be ok. There has been quite a lot of spotlight shed on the impact of mental health over the last 12 months. For the first time it felt like it became okay to say that we were in struggle en masse – because collectively as a nation and as a world we were experiencing a similar struggle together. Yet as work has ramped up, some students returned to school, stores and restaurants opened up…we just wanted things to go back to normal. But many of us are finding that although we’re saying “I’m fine” louder and louder, we just might not be fine… at least not yet.
What did you learn about your own mental health last year? What did you learn about others that surprised you? How have you taken the pandemic impact and pivoted your work or professional life? How might those lessons learned impact the next 12 months of your life?
It’s okay to have gained something from the experience
I’ve not heard anyone rejoicing in the reality of the pandemic. Even skeptics that there was a pandemic at all, have seen some positive change in the last 12 months in their lives or others. Yet, I’ve heard almost everyone I’ve spoken to say that there has been something they’ve gained as a result of the pandemic in spite of the difficulty of it all. Whether a heightened sense of mortality, desire for meaningful connection, redefining of purpose or overall caring of others, there has been something we’ve all taken away from this experience.
What have you gained over the last 12 months? What have you realized about yourself and your connection with others?
We MUST grieve.
I used to only equate the concept of grief with death. The more life I experienced, the more personal work I did and the more professional research I conducted, I learned that there is a spectrum of grief that we all experience throughout our lifetime. Grief is ANY type of loss and it can be experienced individually or collectively. According to David Kessler, it need not be the death of someone but the death of some thing important to us. However, many of us try to avoid feeling losses, we encourage ourselves or others to “shake it off” and just keep moving. Yet, research confirms that leaning into our uncomfortable emotions allows you to learn from them.
What are you grieving the loss of? How might leaning into that grief help you grow as a leader and human being?
Embrace your pandemic projects.
Things I NEVER enjoyed doing before the pandemic? Gardening, binge watching TV and living in yoga pants. This may not seem like a surprising list for you, but I swear that I have had a black thumb since birth. Yet, through the pandemic I was able to focus on the garden in my house, weeding, pruning, cultivating… all while working out my frustrations and anxieties of e-learning, financial concerns of business ownership and fear for my clients’ well-being. Now I have a sanctuary in the form of a garden I created where birds come to visit and children are (sometimes) allowed.
What new-to-you skill or interest in did you discover this last year? How can you continue to cultivate that creativity as we emerge from the pandemic crises?
Regardless of where you find yourself on this collective anniversary, I and the Connect For More team wish you well. We’re here to help and look forward to reconnecting soon!
Are you a leader seeking to understand the science of self-care and ways you can create a better work environment in the new normal?
Join us April 21st for a FREE Virtual Workshop on Caring for the Caregivers: The Science and the Action of Taking Care of You. We’ll be joining with Alice Nuttal MBA RN BA of Lakeland Regional Health who will address the implications of mental health in work culture, emotional resilience in your work and implementing systems to support your team.
Looking to learn more about how grief and grieving impact your work? Curious to learn from experts in grieving – and learning from grief?
Check out any of the following: On Grief & Grieving (Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler); Finding Meaning (David Kessler); Emotional Agility (Dr. Susan David); Permission to Feel (Dr. Mark Brackett) and Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser
Interested in learning more about how your board and staff can create supportive – and productive – leadership and mission work in the new environment?
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our expert facilitators and executive coaches to learn how we can help.
Are you looking for a dynamic and engaging speaker for your virtual conference?
Book Liz today by contacting her amazing team member at email@example.com. Keynote topics include: Embracing Your Humanity, Courageous Leadership, Owning Your Entrepreneur, Somehow I Manage, & Shame(less): Surviving Self-Judgement & Maximizing Self-Care.
About the Author: Liz Wooten-Reschke is President/CEO of Connect For More. She engages leaders and empowers philanthropists by sharing resources necessary to help them accomplish their mission. Liz provides executive coaching, strategic facilitations and customized solutions for all sector leaders, philanthropists, consultants and rising stars interested in making a difference in their communities. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and a professional member of the National Speakers Association. Liz is also a proud member of the University of South Florida Alumni Association Board, a fourth generation Floridian and Key West Conch. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, three children, two dogs, one cat and three fish. For more information about Liz or her work, please visit her company website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.