Are we okay?

Are we okay? 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

At least in some places (like where I live in Nebraska), it can be easy to forget that we are still trying to escape a pandemic.

We are all anxious and ready to move on and move forward. I know I am.

But in our fervor to get back in action, we need to remember that everyone has been through some pretty heavy stuff over the past year (some far more than others). And we might not be able to leave that behind so quickly.

This was brought into focus for me this week as I listened to a podcast about “Shot Girl Summer.”

And it made me wonder, “Are we okay?”

  • Martha

    Thank you so much for this timely message. My older sister told me recently “Every single person on this planet is suffering.” This virus has had an impact on every human being, so this idea has helped me to keep things in perspective when I encounter strange or uncharacteristic behavior from employees (I work in Human Resources), friends, and family members. I have always believed that each of us is on Earth to help ease the way for those around us, and I think that it is even more crucial these days.
    Please keep these positive messages coming. I look forward to the day when we are actually “okay.” I am thankful for you!

  • DeLena Feliciano

    This chat really struck me because I have been in these situations. If I’m going to take the time to connect with someone new I want know how this pandemic has effected them. I’ve been in that situation where I found myself overwhelmed in a group setting and feeling panicked about it. I think this is a really good topic to explore further and discuss; how can we help our employees and co-workers get through this and be okay, eventually. Thank you for sharing!

  • Vernetta from Maryland

    Thanks, Jason for sharing the message, “Are you okay?”

    I believe people are so used to saying they are okay that they are struggling to change those words to some other feeling or some other words like no, I’m not okay, I’m struggling with anxiety, I’m having a hard time with being by myself, I’m really missing hanging out with my friends, I’m struggling with not being in school because other people around them “appear” to be doing okay. This list can go on for miles.

    We human beings tend to adjust to our surroundings, so if most people say they are okay, others tend to say they are okay too. We have to encourage people to express or open up how they are genuinely feeling and just listen to them. Don’t try to solve the situation they are sharing. Just support them from where they are and ask if there is something you can help them with.

  • Stve Whiteford

    Yes, Jason, thanks for opening this conversation. I think we’re all experiencing uncertainty fatigue on many levels. I believe it’s good to talk about it. Beyond concern about getting back to work and productivity, it seems like a lot of us are blocking our thoughts and feelings in the attempt to move on. Here in Austin, we have just returned to Level 5 for pandemic safety., I’m still seeing a great mixture of responses in planning for, and upholding safe behaviors. It’s disconcerting.I believe it’s good to stay aware of the tension of uncertainty and acknowledge it in conversation, feel it and release it in our bodies, and have a lot of self-compassion which can make it easier for us to take the time for whatever modes of self-care may help. Self-care is not necessarily time-consuming, or “special.” Many of the coping strategies we used for well-being before Covid work just fine. We just need to notice when we’re weighing down, and give ourselves the break of simple actions.

  • Candace Fisher

    Thanks, Jason. This is SUCH an important topic. For far too long mental health issues have had such a stigma, and the pandemic has brought a lot of this issue into the light. Nevertheless, people are feeling pressure to “suck it up” as time goes on and we start to get back to life. Mental health doesn’t work that way. This has taken a huge toll on us, and it will take time to come back. It will take time to heal. We need to support each other and encourage those we know to ask for/seek help. Getting help does not admit weakness – it shows true strength to be willing to do the hard work.

  • Eric

    Spot on! I really appreciate your work to keep mental health top of mind. As a wellbeing professional, I see the need and continue to push our organization to normalize the conversation surrounding mental health and I will not stop advocating for us to do more to support people’s mental health now and long after we are past this pandemic.

  • Jody Ventura

    Hi Jason. How do we get from talking about mental health to actually connecting employees to resources. I feel like it is similar to grief. When someone suffers a loss, we say “if you need anything give me a call.” But is that really what the employee needs. Is that specific enough? Does that get them what they need. Does that connect them with the right resources. Can we be framing our offers for help differently to actually connect employees with the resources. Instead of telling someone who is grieving that we are there for them – do we put more action behind our offers. ie., I am coming over on Tuesday and dropping off a cooler with Taco Fixings. I am coming over on the weekend and will take the kids for ice cream so you can have a few hours. How can we creatively show up for employees at work? Can we say, on Tuesday we are having counselors in. Every month we are having a firm meeting and we are not talking about work it will only be personal topics. Do we reach out to vulnerable groups like our working Moms and offer them an opportunity to share obstacles? How can we make “get help” more actionable? How can I actually get help into their hands?

  • Kathleen Fava

    No, Jason, we are not okay – not as individuals and not as a people. Human beings are fragile creatures and a pandemic, especially for the 20-somethings you spoke about, are particularly at risk. They generally
    don’t have enough life behind them or context in their tool kits to stay okay in the midst of the isolation and physical threat of a pandemic. I’m not sure anyone does. It’s interesting that we used to hear talk about people not needing to see each other in person anymore because of social media, as if that would replace human contact. I guess now we know not that isn’t true.

    As you said, people need to keep talking to each other, not shying away from saying or hearing the difficult stuff, hold each other both physically and emotionally. COVID has taught us again that we need each other.

    I am the last person who will try and stamp a “This too will pass” platitude on anyone, but if it doesn’t make things even more grim, it might be useful in some cases to add a course to the high school curriculum that talks about the many incredibly difficult thing humans have already endured. I’m sure they didn’t come out ok either, and I don’t think survival is the point. But to thrive, to get back to ok, perhaps we can learn something from history. Perhaps we can ask some questions about what matters, what hurts, what is lost and what endures. Maybe we need to know who we are a little bit better to walk the path to ok.

    I like the way we’re talking about this as ok or not ok. We may set our expectations a little high, especially in these times, when we want “more.” Am I aiming for deliriously happy all the time, or is wisdom about embracing ok, as in content. I’m still working on “content” and “ok.” I believe that is one way to define our story as human beings.

  • Kathleen Fava

    Thank you for raising this issue Jason. It’s so important.

    No, we are not okay, not as individuals and not as a people. There’s an “underneath” in all of us and we’re not trained or inclined to look at it. Now, the 20-somethings you spoke of are starting to feel that hidden part of themselves and it’s provoking “mental health issues.” What’s really happening, I believe, is that their souls are insisting on being heard and the mental health issues are a sign of the listening and the healing beginning. Simply put, many problems, if ignored, will get worse until we have to pay attention to them. Thank you 20-somethings for learning for all of us that we need each other and we need to listen deeply to each other. Mental health issues need to be honored as a opportunity, if a painful one.

    Perhaps we can help by making use of our educational institutions to teach us about humanity and its resilience – the many things we have endured and survived over the ages and the strengths we have inside of us. Some context may be a comfort (if a gloomy one) for what’s happening now. This needs to be followed up by talking about “what matters.” Surviving is not thriving and “This too shall pass” is cold comfort for many of us. What have we learned about ourselves? What can we draw on now to turn this COVID experience from damaging to be a source of deeper, richer connection to who we are? This isn’t “making lemonade.” This is finding the love in all of us, the reasons to stay in the game, the “what matters” about each of our lives. There’s are reason “…the greatest of these is love.” Let’s help each other by looking there.

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Jason Lauritsen