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Coping during a PandemicLately, I have been spending time learning about resilience and how to cope with crisis and trauma.  How do you cope during a pandemic?  I have been taking classes, reading articles, and trying to understand how I can best help myself and my colleagues at work.  Each month we create an employee newsletter for our department.  I wrote a short article this month and it sums up the way I’ve been feeling lately as December is coming to an end and January is around the corner.  I decided to share this article with you to give some insight into what its like to be a leader, at the end of a career, on the verge of retirement, in the middle of a pandemic.

While it is hard to believe that we are now in December and the last of 2020, I’m sure that most of us are ready to have this year in our rear-view mirror. At this point, we do not know what 2021 will mean for us as a county or a department. This lack of control and inability to plan for our future can cause anxiety, frustration, sadness, and even anger. I think we all agree that 10 months of a pandemic meets the definition of a crisis. 

What we do know, is that we won’t be able to return to the office until at least July of 2021. We also understand that it is possible that volatility in the financial markets and shifts in housing trends will have an effect on Planning and Development Services (PDS). We just don’t know to what extent this will occur and when it will happen. 

Recently I took the seminar offered in October by WellSpring called Deepening Your Resilience: Tools for Persisting in These Times. Janet Novinger from our Employee Assistance Program has helped the PDS leadership team in the past and I appreciated her perspective. A few things I learned were the description of what happens to people when they experience crisis or trauma, what are some of the practices that help them during the crisis, and what helps people the most to remain healthy when the crisis is over. 

After listening for 90 minutes, my biggest takeaway was how we see ourselves in response to the crisis, and the words we use to describe ourselves are important.Coping during a Pandemic People that fair the best, following a crisis, focus on personal growth and how they see themselves. They use terms like Survivor, Hero, Warrior, and their attitude matches. These people never use the word, “Victim”. 

When I think of PDS and the work you have done in 2020, I think of you as heroes. With no warning, you were asked to completely change the way you do your work and you started working from home. You have been resilient, adaptable, and committed. Each of you has been proactive and despite so many challenges, you have been productive and engaged. 

I’m so proud of all of you and the way you have trusted each other and worked together to survive this crisis. I can’t imagine working with a better group of people who have become heroes for many of our customers. Taking the time to assist first time customers, being patient to explain something that is complicated to a homeowner, finding creative common-sense solutions for our professional customers – these are all ways that when we look back at 2020 we will be proud of what we did to survive and in some cases thrive. 

I wish you a happy holiday season and I’m looking forward to what 2021 holds! 

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