As an executive coach and psychologist, I have listened to the pandemic stories of my clients with great interest and concern. The pandemic has challenged us all and based on my research and observations, there are certain experiences that we are sharing now.
We are experiencing post-traumatic growth.
Believe it or not, some good things have come out of the pandemic. We all have a greater appreciation for life. Many of us have experienced renewed relationships with spouses and partners, family members and friends. For some, the pandemic has been a catalyst for focusing energy on what is more meaningful – such as a more meaningful career.
We are experiencing individual and collective grief.
We are grieving the loss of patients, friends and family members that passed away directly or indirectly as a result of Covid. Those that became very ill and were hospitalized may grieve the loss of life before facing such trauma. Grief makes us feel tired. It can make concentration difficult and impact memory retention. As leaders, we need to understand that individual and collective grief may be impacting our employees.
We are experiencing social anxiety.
Anyone who experienced social anxiety prior to the pandemic may require more time to reacclimate to social situations now. Feeling social anxiety following the pandemic is normal as we return to in-person events. It is normal to feel awkward, self-conscious, or worried about embarrassing ourselves after a long time away from other people.
We have experienced years of cumulative stress.
The pandemic has stretched leaders and their teams in multiple ways across all functions and industries. For some, this cumulative stress has led to anxiety, weight gain, sleep disturbances, increased use of substances, burnout, depression, or other symptoms.
As a result, the focus on wellness has intensified. Now more than ever, it is time to eat healthy foods, get quality rest, and exercise. Other wellness strategies include setting achievable goals, journaling, meditating, and drawing support from family and friends.
And we are healing.
It takes time to heal from trauma. As we begin to feel safer, mourn our losses, reconnect with others, and integrate our pandemic experiences into the story of who we are, we will embrace life fully again with new purpose and meaning. As we heal, we can assist others in the healing process, and we will grow.