Researchers are raising concerns about the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on mental health. As you do your best to stay positive and healthy while also trying to get work done, remember that we are all dealing with the situation in different ways. And some of your coworkers may be struggling in silence.
So if you’re getting a little bit tired of having the same conversations about COVID-19 or powering through to-dos on video calls, why not take a moment to think of ways to lift others up? When you brighten someone else’s day, it tends to elevate your own spirits. It’s a win-win.
From small, goofy actions to emotionally intelligent responses, here are five surprising ways to raise the spirits of your coworkers.
Goof around and inject humor into their day
Laughter truly is the best medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic, having a good laugh can help reduce tension and stress, improve mood, increase personal relationships, and even help boost your immune system. So go ahead and make a silly joke before getting down to business in your next Zoom call or start a Slack channel for sharing memes. If you are feeling extra creative, you can even Photoshop your coworkers’ pictures onto absurd scenarios and share your creations in a group chat for guaranteed giggles.
Prioritize more personal ways of communication
We get it: It can be so much more effective to skip having yet another call in favor of an email. But if you’re looking to cheer others up, personal and interactive communication methods win. Surprise your coworkers with a video call to catch up about non-work stuff or send them a voice memo. Social isolation is taking a toll on us, and finding ways to add warmth and human contact to mundane day-to-day interactions can make a bigger difference than you think.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
If you started the pandemic with ambitions such as writing a book or learning a new language but are now finding yourself feeling emotionally drained and unable to perform basic tasks, be open about your experiences. What is most personal is most relatable, and opening up to your coworkers gives them permission to do the same. The result? Everyone feels a little bit more connected and less alone.
Ask open-ended questions and listen
On that note, not everyone will have an easy time opening up. If you notice a coworker feeling a little down or being quieter than usual, approach them with supportive, open-ended questions such as “How can I be most helpful to you right now?” Don’t pressure them to talk, but if they do, practice active listening. Avoid making assumptions about their experiences and focus on paying attention to what they are sharing without judgment. Research shows talking about our problems helps reduce our nervous response to stressful situations, so you can truly make a difference in someone’s day by the simple act of lending an ear.
Have a brainstorm and set goals
When dealing with a crisis, it can be hard to get out of short-term, reactionary thinking and focus on long-term vision and goals. But doing so can bring back a sense of normalcy and give you things to look forward to. Take the lead on creating a safe space for bouncing ideas or setting new individual or team goals. It will help keep things into perspective and remind your coworkers that there is light at the end of the tunnel.