Since the COVID-19 Pandemic is disproportionately affecting minority communities, as a diversity consultant I welcome this guest blog kindly provided by Cristy Canes.
Flattening the mental health curve is another challenge brought about by the coronavirus — this time, through a phenomenon called pandemic fatigue. This is the kind of fatigue that comes from the stress of social distancing, wearing a mask, and frequent hand-washing. In addition, there’s pressure to make health-related behavior changes, such as increasing physical activity, eating healthy, and quitting smoking — all this on top of widespread job loss, social isolation, childcare challenges, and general uncertainty about the future. It’s all too taxing for the mental health of people everywhere, leading to bouts of loneliness, depression, fear, and anxiety.
The impact of the pandemic fatigue is even greater on racial and ethnic minorities, who are more likely to have low-wage jobs or be laid off due to the economic slump. These disenfranchised communities also have greater health risk as essential workers with more exposure to the virus, but are less likely to have health insurance or access to medical care.
Moreover, the Center for American Progress reported on higher unemployment rates for same-sex couples even before the pandemic. And while there’s no data yet on the impact of the current pandemic fatigue on LGBTQ+ minorities, history can show how they’ll be disproportionately affected and will take longer to recover, too.
All this is why it’s crucial for companies to step up and take the lead in making the necessary changes for their employees, and help them cope in the current crisis. Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer previously pointed out the importance of promoting effective diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. It can start with having mission, vision, and values statements, so they can formalize their goals and become empowered as one solid organization. This can lessen the impact of the pandemic fatigue, especially on minorities, and can be further supported if individual steps to overcome it will be encouraged among employees. Five of these steps include:
1) Accepting negative emotions. Be honest about bottled up emotions like anxiety and uncertainty. Don’t be afraid to talk about these things. It’ll be good to let all the negativity out of your system by consciously releasing them through constant communication with family, friends, and even colleagues.
2) Creating new goals. Set personal goals that are achievable, enjoyable, and will give a sense of accomplishment — whether it’s exercise or small weekly social gatherings. It’s good to have something to look forward to on a daily basis.
3) Conserving emotional resources. Employees should also take time out from work to prioritize self-care. If you’re pressed for time or energy, then even just a few seconds of deep breathing can do the trick. Sheena Bergado writes on Pain Free Working’s guide to breathing exercises that these have the power to reduce stress and improve your mood. Deep breathing by inhaling and exhaling slowly through the nose may seem simple, but it has great benefits in getting rid of headaches and calming your nerves.
4) Being kind to yourself. As an employee, you should recognize that it’s okay to have both good and bad days. Instead of focusing on the negatives, try to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements. This is a conscious effort that can be done through positive self-talk, which can make you mentally stronger and more resilient in any tough situation.
5) Asking for help. Although it’s good to be mentally tough on your own, it’s also good to ask for help. Employees don’t have to be afraid to seek support from mental health professionals in their organization or elsewhere, whenever needed. Alan Kohll of TotalWellness advocates for workplaces that support mental health, where there could be awareness, training, mental health policies, fair treatment, screening resources, or monitoring of employee engagement.
Always remember that we’re all in this together, and your success, whether in work output or mental wellness, is also the success of your team. Don’t hesitate to reach out and make the most of the practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization.
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This guest blog was authored by Cristy Canes, provided solely for totalengagementconsulting.com
Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training, Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups. Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department. [email protected]