The Importance of Continuing to Check-in with One Another

We are approaching the one year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic. What initially started as a shift to working remotely for a couple of weeks lasted much longer than any of us could have imagined.  

In the early days of the pandemic, there was a multitude of information available about staying mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.  With long periods of pandemic restrictions, people may be choosing not to visit their doctors office or not to continue with counseling if it can’t be done in person. As the months wear on, so too has the toll of being physically distanced. 

In the workplace, the stress of the pandemic has been compounded with the government cuts to funding, lay-offs, the stress of the administrative and academic restructuring. 

As we’ve adapted to working from home, we’ve realized there can be some positives such as a shorter commute and more ability to take breaks. One of the drawbacks however is that we don’t see each other in the hallway, on the way to a meeting, at the water cooler or in the lunchroom. We no longer have the opportunity to interact on a Monday morning to see how the weekend was or gather all of the cues associated with in-person communication. It may not be as obvious in remote settings when someone's behaviour, emotions or health is different than you know it to be.

Prolonged periods of stress can manifest itself in a number of ways impacting our physical, behavioural, cognitive and emotional responses including;

  • an increase in nervous habits such as nail biting or foot tapping
  • moodiness
  • feeling apprehensive or anxious
  • decline in productivity 
  • digestive issues 
  • forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating
  • high blood pressure

It is important to continue to take the time and check-in with your friends, colleagues and coworkers. Ask them how they are doing, how they are really doing. How are they feeling? What is causing them stress? Let them know you care and are thinking or worried about them. Encourage access to resources such as a family physician, faith leader, psychologist or other health care practitioner.    

Lead by example. If you are struggling or notice you need someone to talk to, reach out for support. When appropriate, exercise vulnerability in discussing challenges in our work or personal lives and how we can assist and support one another. If you experience changes to our physical health, seek medical assistance. Take time to really care for yourself so that you can help to ensure others are cared for. 

For ideas on how to check in: https://www.ualberta.ca/campus-life/mhcheck-in.html