As part of her role as Potentia’s Personal Effectiveness Coach, Gayle speaks to dozens of candidates (as well as our own internal team members) every week. Unsurprisingly, in the last few weeks, there has been one recurring topic: Covid-19. So, we asked Gayle to share some of the key themes which have emerged from those conversations, how people are feeling and what advice she has to help us manage our wellbeing whilst we social distance.
During this time of unprecedented uncertainty, my role here at Potentia has put me in a privileged position, one that allows me to listen to other’s stories. The people I’ve spoken to have reacted to Covid-19 and isolation in a range of ways and while their feelings have evolved over the weeks, a few themes have emerged from their stories; themes that we can all learn from.
Guilt – a lot of people are feeling guilty. These are workers who are usually high performers, who have been conditioned to work hard, or who are in those early stages of their tenure and feel a sense of obligation to prove themselves. These people have often been conditioned to work towards large end goals (and like to get there quickly) but feel like they can’t be their productive selves at the moment.
Excitement – these are the people that are thriving. They’ve embraced the situation and are feeling nostalgic about the return to simpler times – where family dinners at the table, simple suppers and baking bread was standard. They also have a level of anticipation of what will come next.
Intensity – for some, the intensity of everyone under one roof is very real. Relationships are feeling the strain (particularly towards the tail end of lockdown), people are sweating the small stuff and sadly for some, the reality is that their bubbles may no longer be a safe place.
Covid-19 overload– some people are just over it; they don’t want to talk about Covid-19 and they are sick of seeing and hearing about it.
Irritation – these are the people that find it all a bit of a nuisance. It’s an inconvenience, maybe they think it’s all a bit of an overreaction and they just want to get on with living their lives.
With a varying range of reactions to the situation, it is impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all approach to managing mental health and wellbeing, but there are some steps that we can all take to help us transition through and manage our wellbeing sustainably.
Gratitude changes attitude
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. The people who are thriving during the Covid-19 pandemic all have one thing in common; they are grateful and even humbled for what they have, what they can do, and how others have responded to the crisis. They are focussing on and celebrating the small wins and we can learn a lot from them.
Limit your consumption
If you are someone who is feeling overloaded, anxious or irritated by all of the Covid-19-related conversations, turn off notifications, unsubscribe, unplug and set some personal policies around how often you will access Covid-19-related content.
He waka eke noa - create “togetherness”
There is solace in knowing that this experience is shared, you are not alone and we’re all in this together. For generations, cultures have created social structures to ensure that there is a safe space for people to share and connect so maybe think about how you can recreate those age-old ideas of the quilters circle or the fishing trips from a distance. In a time when we are more connected than ever, what ways can you create togetherness whilst social distancing?
Share your stories
Storytelling is powerful. If we can’t speak, we are silenced – so find your voice and a forum to share your stories. Encourage your own whanau to share their stories, talk to friends or even take this opportunity to document or journal your own experience.
Get on top of the guilt and celebrate the small wins
What we’re going through is huge and it is ok to not be as productive as usual; work is just one part of your life. Try to shift your focus to the small wins and celebrate the things you liked about yourself on any given day. Think about the other activities or interests that you can invest your time in to get those hits of energy that might usually come from work. So many people are finding creative outlets through baking and creating, learning new skills or even just getting those steps up as they walk the neighbourhood streets.
Give yourself space
My number one piece of advice is to give yourself space and see what happens in that space that you create. Just step back for a minute and observe. Consciously define a space during the day that is just yours, even if that is just the time in the shower each day and ask yourself the question “What do I need right now at this moment?”. Most of us have the answers to what we need and how we can serve our own mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing but we need to carve out a time to ask ourselves the question.
What are you doing at home to maintain your wellbeing? I’d love to hear from you!
Enjoying a varied career in human development, Gayle started her career as a counsellor before choosing to study Social Work at Canterbury University. Graduating in 1987, she continued to work as a Counsellor/Social Worker for several years. However, this focus changed again when she trained as a psychotherapist in Integrative Gestalt and family therapy. Setting up a private practice, she worked in the field of clinical supervision, trauma, personal growth, family therapy, counselling, group dynamics and workplace stress. She was also a co-founder of an intensive day care programme for people who suffered from PTSD.
Since 2008, Gayle has been a part of the Potentia whanau, working in the area of People and Performance Coaching, as well as being our HR Lead. In this role, she assists Potentia’s candidates (and employees) to build a greater understanding of their strengths – encouraging them to stretch themselves and go beyond what they thought was possible.