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Opinion: Stay grounded with moments of gratitude

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Did anyone ever imagine we would be sequestered in our homes practicing social distancing for weeks on end? Probably not. Yet, here we are.

Mandates are changing throughout the day, creating uncertainty and anxiety. If we are not careful, we can become consumed with fears and concerns about how we are going to meet our obligations.

As employers and employees, what can we do to help maintain our mental and emotional health during this unprecedented time?

Limit checking the news feed to no more than twice a day. It is important to stay abreast of the daily changes. However, watching the news continually creates more anxiety and stress.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, have a conversation with yourself. Talk through your feelings in the third person, referring to yourself as “he/she,” “you,” or use your name. Try to understand why you are experiencing these feelings. List your concerns. This exercise can help you confront your fears instead of being overcome by them.

Be grateful. If you can change your attitude toward the situation, your outlook will change. Choose to find the positive. Each morning list five things that you are grateful for today. It could be things that happened yesterday or those that you are planning today. Good health or spending time with family could top the list. Maybe it’s taking a walk through the neighborhood or on a hiking trail, savoring a cup of java or tea on the front porch and having great employees or employers.

Find reasons to laugh. Instead of getting upset at the silly things that irritate you, laugh at them. It’s easy to let little things bother you when you are secluded day after day. As you start to complain or criticize, stop and think about how trivial it sounds. Laugh instead.

Today, it is more important than ever that we nurture our social connections, especially the relationship between employer and employee.

When we come out on the other side of this crisis, employers are going to need good employees. The company that appreciates and cares for the employee today is in a better position in the future. What can you do today?

Be flexible. My friend just started as a salesperson for a grocery store chain. Since the COVID-19 crisis has eliminated sales jobs, he feared his career was in jeopardy. However, they recognize his potential and instead of letting him go reassigned him to stock shelves. This short-term arrangement is a gratitude win-win. The company shows its appreciation by retaining a good employee and fills a need. My friend is grateful that he can continue to support his family, knowing one day he will be back in the job he enjoys.

Communicate gratitude often and in different ways. Find reasons to express your appreciation and encourage your employees at least three times a week. Mix it up each week with a phone call, text, email, handwritten note, video chat or group meeting. Be specific as you let each employee know why you appreciate them. Encourage them to practice self-care during this challenging time. 
The same practice applies to employees; leaders need to feel encouraged and appreciated also. Send your boss a handwritten note sincerely expressing your gratitude for what they are doing to help you and your colleagues at this time. It’s not brown-nosing, it’s thoughtful and considerate. We all need to hear we are appreciated.

Be creative. Are there ways your business can partner with other companies? Hospitals currently are collaborating to find the best way to serve the public needs together. Companies are retooling to make ventilators, masks and various needs. Is there something your company could do to help another company succeed? Can you join forces to create temporary jobs while maintaining a workforce?

We are all in this together. Employers and employees are trying to figure out what to do as we strive to retool during these strange times.

Showing gratitude to each other must be a tool in our toolbox; it is key to sustaining good mental and emotional health. We need to nurture our well-being, so we have the bandwidth to support others.

Moving forward, let’s try the tools given above and look for other ways we support each other with gratitude and appreciation.

LaDonna Greiner is the author of the “21 Reasons to Say Thank You” series, a photographer and a motivational speaker with a focus on gratitude. She serves as national immediate past chair of the Association of Women in Communication. She can be reached at ladonna.g@21reasons.life.

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