Are You Checking In Enough? It’s Now More Critical Than Ever.

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

Many people have been working virtually for nearly 8 months now, and it’s starting to wear them down. For many, the work day extends well into the evening hours due to distractions with kids homeschooling, and no clear boundaries on when the work day ends. The virtual environment is especially difficult for extraverts and people living alone who may find working from home very isolating. Because of this, supervisors must be more vigilant than ever to regularly check in with employees to see how they are doing. Below are some questions that supervisors should ask team members on a weekly basis, and then actively listen and show empathy. You don’t have to solve their problems. Demonstrating that you care and understand (empathy), and offering your support if they need it is often enough.

  • How are you doing? How’s your family doing?
  • What has been the most difficult thing you experienced in the last week? What can I do?
  • What has been the best thing you experienced in the last week?
  • What concerns or challenges are you facing right now?
  • What would be the most helpful to you right now?
  • What does effective support from me look like?

When you combine the effects of limited activities and minimal social interaction due to the pandemic with upcoming seasonal depression (seasonal affective disorder – SAD) that affects as much as 10-20% of the population, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you suspect that an employee is experiencing depression, please provide them with your organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) contact information if you have one, or suggest they seek the help of a professional counselor.

According to WedMD, this is what to do if you think someone is suicidal:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask if he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide.
  • Ask if he or she is seeing a therapist or taking medication.
  • Rather than trying to talk the person out of suicide, let him or her know that depression is temporary and treatable.
  • In some cases, the person just needs to know that someone cares and is looking for the chance to talk about his or her feelings. You can then encourage the person to seek professional help.

Suicide Hotlines:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741

Below are 10 Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) according to the article from Genomind. Please use this information to help yourself and share with others who may suffer from seasonal depression, or who may live alone and be isolated during this pandemic.

  1. Know the signs and symptoms – mainly feeling sad or less energized during the winter months.
  2. Exercise regularly to activate “feel good” chemicals in the brain.
  3. Stay connected even if you can’t be with others in person. Use Facetime, Zoom or the phone to talk to friends and loved ones on a regular basis.
  4. Get enough sunlight. If that’s not possible, then take a vitamin D supplement.
  5. Try light therapy using a SAD lamp or light therapy box.
  6. Eliminate unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and overeating.
  7. Write it out. Keep a gratitude journal of what you have to be thankful for in your life to keep things in perspective.
  8. Meditate to calm your mind and focus your attention away from negative thoughts.
  9. Take a vacation to a sunny location if you can.
  10. Get professional help. A counselor can help you find coping strategies and be a great source of emotional support.

It’s especially important for leaders to take care of themselves during these challenging times. It’s a big responsibility to have others count on you, and it can be emotionally draining to listen to employees share their problems and concerns. As a coach, I have to take good care of myself not only mentally, but physically and emotionally in order to be there for others. There is a reason they say on every airplane flight to first put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Below are some more resources that you can use and share with others to help increase their resilience and productivity during these difficult times.

I hope this newsletter helps even just one person. Please know that there is always someone you can reach out to, whether it’s a friend, relative, teacher, minister, therapist, coach, medical professional, or a crisis hotline. Please share this newsletter with anyone that you think it may help. There is always light after the darkness, and sometimes it’s even brighter than we could have ever imagined.

“No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.” – George Chakiris

“Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.” – Unknown

***Disclaimer: This newsletter is not a substitute for therapy. If you need help, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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