Pandemic Blues

I find it hard to believe that we are almost a year into our pandemic response as a country, and as a community. Last spring many of the organizations I work with were struggling with optimism and reality, both tugging at one another until finally, reality won. There would be no conferences, no programming, no festivals and no travelling. Boards everywhere had to restructure their goals and work plans. 

Working in a constant source of uncertainty adds a lot of pressure and demands even more of our time. Local governments across the province are continuing to react to the ever-changing effects of Covid-19, employees are being asked to take their work home with them and carve out a space to stay productive. To continue to work alongside kids that are home from school, perhaps a relative that might have moved in for safety. People are working at their kitchen tables all day long, only to clear up at the end of day to prepare dinner for their family that is also feeling the stress of the pandemic. 

It is remarkable to me what is happening in organizations, and all employers should be focusing on mental health in the workplace. Mourneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index, a monthly health index for employed Canadians is showing that workplace mental health began to decline again this fall. No surprise as we headed into our second wave. 

Isolation, uncertainty and not being able to manage a work-life balance all contribute to how we are feeling right now. For many chasing goals and jobs that come with a lot of responsibility, the phrase work-life balance feels like an impossible idea before the pandemic, and in a pandemic a sentence impossible to achieve. 

We are midway through our annual Fernie Streak where we get outside and move our bodies for thirty minutes a day. Living in a ski town full of adventure partners, I realize I am a bit of a lazy friend. Connecting with people I love usually comes in the form of a bike ride, hike or ski. I rarely call people otherwise. Which means, in a pandemic I really feel fragmented from friends because I have not been doing those things for a very long time. 

I’ve been using this January Streak to do more than just exercise. I’ve been trying to connect with people, trying to re-establish those relationships. Right now, it is the easy laughter of friendship I miss the most.

Vaccines have arrived, and with that optimism for the first time in a while. We can’t afford to break the rules now though, we aren’t out of this by a long shot. I miss people as much as anyone else, the quiet comfort of sitting at someone else’s kitchen table. If we keep at it though and follow the rules, we will be reunited with the things we all love, the people we love. 

For those of you working from home right now, parenting from home and supporting your corner of the community from home, you are a hero.