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Post Covid Stress Syndrome

As we begin to contemplate when we will go back, let’s talk briefly about how we will go back

By John Jarvis

This prolonged work-from-home, physical distancing experience has been hard. I think we all need to acknowledge that. Undoubtedly there is a spectrum, from hard to harder to hardest, and I believe we all fall somewhere on that continuum. And now that case counts are declining and vaccinations are increasing there is growing dialogue about when we will return to work, when we will return to in-person social interaction and when we will return to some modified version of what we used to consider normal. As part of that conversation, I believe it is important that we consider how we will go back. Like atmospheric re-entry, or rising up from the ocean floor, avoiding injury requires some prior planning.

I spend a fair amount of time adventuring outdoors and sleeping in tents, and so for me, this shelter-in-place experience has reminded me of the times I have been trapped in my tent due to extreme weather, sometimes for hours and sometimes for days. It takes effort to keep your wits about you while time simply passes. It helps to stay busy in some fashion, to keep your mind engaged and to keep your spirit from languishing. It is best to take it one moment at a time, and not to get drawn into worry or remorse.  Moment to moment, each moment a victory. I have felt this at various times over the last year.

And now it appears the storm may be lifting. We may soon be able to emerge from this tent of isolation to breathe deeply the fresh air without fear of infectious particles, and to feel the cleansing sun on our fully exposed, unmasked face. Man, that is going to feel so good.

But it is important, I think, to acknowledge what we have been through. I fear that we are all going to slingshot back out into the world and suddenly find ourselves busier than ever trying to catch up and make up for lost time. So I propose a few notions that we might hold in our thoughts during this transition back, to keep us from burning up or suffering from the bends, so to speak.

Acknowledge the Reality

Let’s acknowledge that we have all been through something really hard. Much harder for some, but hard for everyone. To ignore trauma is to invite it to stick around in some lingering fashion. Repeat after me–this has been hard.

Celebrate the Victory

Let’s celebrate, when we can, the fact that we have made it through this extreme challenge to fight another day. Not everyone made it, that is brutal and sad, but we did. Don’t feel guilty about this. Celebrate it. Well done. One day at a time, moment by moment, 365 damn days (and counting) trapped in our little tent, and soon we will be able to say we made it. Congratulations will definitely be in order.

Double Up on Compassion

We all know what we have been through. But we have no idea what others have been through. Low points, hard times, loss and regrets. As things ramp back up to full speed, if something or someone causes us to become upset, can we add a two count before we respond? They might need  it. We might need it.  Let’s do this for one another.

Appreciate One Another

Lastly, let’s appreciate one another. I suspect this one will come naturally for most. I am an introvert, and I miss people. I miss sitting down with you over a cup of coffee and hearing what is going on in your life. I miss gathering as a team and going around the room with banter and laughter. I miss breakfasts and lunches and dinners where we talk and share and laugh and fight over the bill. I know I took this for granted before, but not anymore.

So let’s get back to work soon, and let’s do it in a way that shows we have learned the lessons of the last twelve months. I look forward to seeing you soon.

John Jarvis is an executive vice president of Hughes Marino, a global corporate real estate advisory firm that specializes in representing tenants and buyers. Contact John at 1-844-662-6635 or john@hughesmarino.com to learn more.

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