Throughout the pandemic one playful way I’ve been gauging the stress level of my local community is through observation of driving manners, particularly on the freeway. Several times a week I travel from Mt. Vernon to Bellingham, and over the last year and a half I have seen an ebb and flow of passive-aggressive and surprisingly polite driving behavior. I share this with you because I have often pondered the effect the pandemic is having on our collective mental health.
Like so many, I have had moments of gratitude for the positive changes COVID has brought us – greater accessibility, flexibility, and a focus on family. On the flip side, like many, I’ve felt intense anxiety, panic, disconnectedness, and heart wrenching sorrow. Always the optimist, I have thought and read a lot about protective factors – those aspects of our lives that can be a buffer against the negative impacts of COVID. Though we may be far apart in the physical realm, there is much we can do to stay connected through the emotional, social, and spiritual sides of ourselves.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to be working during the pandemic, research has shown that supportive workplace environments play a key role in protecting individuals from the negative impacts of COVID. It is our collective responsibility (and gift!) to recognize this and practice patience, kindness, and empathy for our coworkers. Take time to ask how your coworker is doing, and when you get a standard reply, ask them how they’re really doing and then listen. Be like a mirror, reflecting back what s/he is telling you, being careful not to judge or offer advice. Let them feel heard.
Other protective factors include things like maintaining social connections, educational engagement, physical exercise, mindfulness and prayer practices, and daily routines. There is a lot we aren’t able to control in our lives right now but recognizing what we can do – and then doing it – can make a big difference. There are many online offerings from Samish Nation and Samish Vocational Rehabilitation staff have a wealth of other resources you can tap into.
If you are struggling or feel stuck in your current job, aren’t working but want to be, or you want to advance in your job but aren’t sure how, please reach out to us! We are here to serve you and all tribal citizens enrolled in tribes across the country who live in our service area. Hóy7sxwq'e
Donna J. Adamson, Samish Vocational Rehabilitation Director
firstname.lastname@example.org, (360) 298-0486