This week Chana Brissett, Senior Business Development Executive in our Washington, DC office, uses May’s mental health awareness month by explaining the impact of COVID-19 on the psyche, and how to succeed moving forward both personally and professionally.

Have you assessed where you find yourself, recently? How is this pandemic affecting your life these days? Where are you in your stage of response to this on-going crisis? Self-awareness is critical to emotional intelligence, our primal ability to influence our environment and effectively problem solve, while ensuring healthy relationships, especially with oneself. Some of us are still trying to climb out of survival mode, while others are treading lightly on the stage of acceptance, as there are multiple external and internal factors which affect our coping behavior, i.e., a loss or recovery of a loved one, employment status shift, PTSD (or healing) from past crisis management. So, there is no right or wrong answer! We all journey through these stages at our own pace because we have different life experiences and processes in maneuvering through them.

We have been exposed to numerous articles, webinars and media messaging these last several weeks reminding ourselves to self-care, keep connected, and revitalize our professional mission, as we should! But now that we have perfected our meditation routine, and created the best virtual schedule to connect with distant loved ones and clients, now what? Even though we are re-engaging with our network in unique ways, offering and seeking support and expertise, why do we sometimes feel we are just maintaining, struggling to use this quarantine to maximize the opportunity for growth, even slipping back into the survival circle on those tough days?

I say we…

Forgive Ourselves: For many of us, this turbulent climate has generated warranted sadness, fear, anger, lack of motivation, and doubt. It is ok to admit there have been days we have not wanted to get out of bed, dreaded including the word “pivot” in the next transitional email, or worried about if our next read will include another concerning statistic share. Though grateful, sometimes we get stuck in our own head, feeling guilty we have had clouded thoughts, which can most definitely chokehold us in the slow movement. Recognizing and forgiving ourselves for those moments when we are not so positive, will help us channel that energy into identifying a course of action for the journey of growth, resulting in a better and happier us, even before this standstill!

Get Organized: Have you skipped your Spring cleaning? It is not too late! Two weeks ago, I filled my recycle bin with outdated papers, cleaned off dusty shelves and brought my workspace back to life by adjusting the layout, allowing room for favorite flowers and scented candles next to my desktop. I organized my electronic files, folders, and client information. My grandmother always says, “a cluttered home is a cluttered mind.” Our physical affects our mental! Who wants to start a new project, or has the mindset to brainstorm ideas when the daily visual is in a state of disarray? Creating a simple and lean environment makes room for elements that trigger success and calmness and opens the gate of creative and efficient productivity. 

Calendar-Invite the Prioritized: I recently expressed to a colleague that I feel busier these last few weeks than before the COVID-19 pandemic. As Senior Business Development Executive for a leading-edge destination and event management company, it is vital I stay connected with our valued clients and industry partners. Back to back virtual coffee dates and networking happy hours consistently compete with educational opportunities and experience building. And let us not forget about the tasks that support the tasks! When is there time for creative research, or to step outside of my comfort zone to get super innovative for the future prospect? I prioritize what I prioritize! Structuring time creates accountability and fuels accomplishment, which gives us strength and confidence in moving forward.

Strategize: Once we emerge from this storm, and we are asked to give testimony of what we have learned or cultivated while in quarantine, what will we say? Maybe we have learned how to home school, bake a little banana bread, and even figured out a way to get some free virtual meeting minutes! But will we also be able to share the creative ways we have elevated our personal and professional brand and service? Did we learn that second language which has lived a long time on our bucket list? Or use the professional camera bought years ago to create a personal portfolio? Or decide to get courageous and take that virtual class on public speaking? I have been writing a book slowly for a few years now, never having enough time, which just means, I rarely prioritized this talent. Not only have I made significant strides in my book’s development while on lockdown, but I have also joined an exclusive writers’ network and am currently preparing for an event to promote my literary art by the end of May! Not only has the process been therapeutic, it has pushed me harder in the direction of advancement, which will result in an increased personal skill set as well as contribute to my value professionally. The more well-rounded and dynamic we are, the more we achieve!

To my friends, colleagues, and clients, find the gift in the challenge. If we are forced to prepare for life in a “new normal”, the least we should do is not bring our “old normal” to it. We must acknowledge where we are in our mental and emotional recovery, continue to heal, set the space for expansion, and expose our hidden talents while learning new skills. Though we are different, we are all in this together. Let us grow together for a stronger industry and pay it forward along the way.