It’s the middle of June. The pandemic is still wreaking havoc but the economy is starting to pulsate again. Businesses are slowly reopening and employees are returning to work, albeit reluctantly. We’ve just been through the war – that’s what it sure feels like. This pandemic is traumatizing. If you:
- contracted the virus, or had someone close to you catch it or even die from it;
- were furloughed from your job or lost your business completely;
- are experiencing a financial hardship and/or can’t pay for the basics in your household (groceries, bills and so on);
- fear going out in public because you may be exposed to the virus or you’ve quarantined at home as requested;
- started experiencing troubling emotions like loneliness, isolation, sadness, anxiety and fear;
then chances are, you experienced some level of trauma, not unlike being the victim of a crime or attack. It’s very possible you are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This very real psychological condition is described as an anxiety disorder that develops following frightening, stressful, or distressing life events. Characterized by intense fear, helplessness, and stress, PTSD affects normal life and day-to-day functioning. Symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to:
- being easily startled
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling tense
- angry outbursts
- difficulty managing day-to-day obligations; disruption of your daily routine
- avoidance of certain situations or circumstances
- persistent rumination or disruptive thoughts
For a full list of symptoms, please visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml.
If you see yourself in any of the above bullet points, please understand that this is something to take seriously. Of course, not everyone is going to have the same reaction to the pandemic and all of its ramifications but please know that if you are struggling, if your anxiety level is peaking and you find yourself overly nervous or scared about returning to work or creating a new normal, know that you are not alone. What you are experiencing is normal considering what we are all going through. This trauma is real and it’s not going away any time soon so we best take care of ourselves. Here are a few things you can do to lower your anxiety levels and show yourself compassion:
- Give yourself permission to feel lousy, to be scared, to be vulnerable – these feelings are natural and normal, in fact, there is more to be concerned about if you’re denying these feelings and pretending they don’t exist. Give your feelings a voice.
- Check your expectations – are you trying to do too much? Are you staying strong for everyone else but not getting your needs met? Are you jumping in with both feet but forgetting to test the water first? Our expectations for ourselves and others must be realistic. Go easy on yourself.
- Plan for free or fun time. Like you brush your teeth everyday, plan for some down time or time to laugh. Watch your favorite comedy. Take a long drive or walk. Call an old friend. Eat some ice cream. Plan a weekend getaway. Get a massage. Whatever brings you joy, go do that.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Every day, write down what you appreciate about your life. Write down the good things that happened today. Journal about your blessings. Let those things consume your mind and heart.
- Visualize brighter days! Imagine you at your optimal self. What are you doing? Where are you going? How are you feeling? Day dream with abandon! Be detailed about what you want in life and where you’d like to be. No holds barred – if you visualize, you can achieve it! But do this frequently as visualization has a cumulative effect on one’s mood and outlook.
- If needed, seek out a counselor or therapist. If you work for a company lucky enough to have an Employee Assistance program then take advantage. Check what benefits you have with your insurance carrier. If you don’t have insurance, your community has an organization that provides sliding scale services. (Google will help you locate those agencies.) Don’t try to heal by yourself. There are dedicated professionals out there who can help. You are not alone.
If you need additional suggestions or guidance on how PTSD can impact a workforce feel free to contact me at Alexandra.G@comcast.net and/or visit
Alexandra Glumac is the founder of Glumac Consulting Group whose purpose is to strategically support your business’s mission, vision and bottom line through the coordination and facilitation of customized, quality and seamless HR services.