One of the most difficult aspects of the COVID pandemic has been isolation. Isolation from coworkers, friends and family. Social distancing, work-from-home strategies and the shutdown of businesses have left all of us speaking to each other through screens, which for many people has created a sense of loneliness and mental health issues. For myself, someone who loves the social aspect of the media industry, I’ve found this human separation particularly difficult.
It was during the early stages of the pandemic that I developed a new system to help with both my mental health and the need for social interaction. Each week I would schedule at least one call with an old co-worker, former client or friend. This quickly became an opportunity to refocus, connect with others in a meaningful way and have a much needed mental break. Much like starting an exercise routine, I found it important to stay diligent with these meetings or else work and family would take over and my networking would fall to the wayside. While we are all physically distanced, this new system was a way for me to stay connected with others and fulfill the important need for meaningful conversation.
For those of you who are mentors or mentees, I found regular check-ins to be even more important during COVID. In the early stages of the pandemic, I made sure to stay in regular contact with people I mentor to ensure that they were alright and adjusting to the new realities of working from home. I was also fortunate to have my mentors stay in regular contact with me, checking-in and ensuring I was OK. These small acts can have a huge impact on an individual’s mental outlook by helping them feel connected.
For those looking to become a mentor, or those wishing to be mentored, Market Your Health helps connect people with senior individuals from the marketing industry. Market Your Health’s founder, Ian MacDonald, has this to say about the new organization: “After recognizing the need for a mentorship program with its foundations in mental and physical well-being, we have created the marketing industry’s first end-to-end mentorship program built on Market Your Health’s mantra of ‘collaborative growth starts with a healthy mindset.’ Our six core values encourage mental and physical well-being, which are promoted and upheld by a roster of industry leaders who have dedicated their time to help students and marketers seeking advice.”
The need to support mental health initiatives and one another is especially critical during this time, as many of our peers have lost jobs during the pandemic and are looking for work. I’ve seen so many people offering their help via LinkedIn posts, which has been a wonderful outcome of the pandemic. If someone out of work reaches out to you, please take the time to speak with them. It’s difficult enough dealing with social distancing, added family pressure and the uncertainty of the pandemic, let alone having to worry about finances and looking for a new job. Our out of work friends need all of the help they can get, even if it is a text, email or call to see how they are doing.
As Ontario moves into Phase 3 of COVID recovery, hopefully we’ll all be able to connect in person again. While I yearn for the days of big team lunches, nights at Jays and Raptors games and, of course, AdClub events, I know the reality for the time being is beers on a patio or small groups in a park. COVID has impacted our lives in so many ways (both positive and negative), and it’s important to remember to reach out, stay connected and—most importantly—be happy!