Coping during the pandemic

September 2021

Dr. Kira Mauseth presents the latest findings on how we're coping with COVID-19. Key takeaways include:

  • We're in a "disaster cascade" within the pandemic timeline, so it's normal to feel anxiety, depression and exhaustion.
  • Depression/anxiety is expected to increase with the delta variant concerns and return of rainy/cold weather. So now is the time to start making plans for activities/actions you know help you in tough times.
  • Work/personal time boundaries, and good sleep schedules, are more important than ever.
  • Our brains are in "protect/battle mode," so we have to take extra time to recognize good things that are happening and to ensure we're calm before reacting impulsively or in anger.
  • Building resilience helps us deal with the ongoing stress and challenges of the pandemic, but it's an on-going process. It's not a task that you do once and never revisit.

See Dr. Mauseth's PowerPoint presentation (PDF 2.2MB) and view the video below.

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This series of presentations, shared at our all-staff webinars beginning in October 2020, build on each other to show how we're coping with the many challenges created by COVID-19 and how that changes over time. Each presentation offers research-based tips to identify and manage stress while we work to understand how others are dealing with theirs. The third, and most current, presentation is listed first.

June 2021

The state Department of Health's Dr. Kira Mauseth presents the latest findings on how we're coping with COVID-19 as many of us contemplate a return to “normal” life and shares the need for a roadmap to guide our way. Dr. Mauseth also explains why and how many of us are still feeling the effects of dealing with the pandemic even with encouraging news about vaccines and rates of transmission.

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Key takeaways:

  • Reducing burnout with healthy, clear boundaries between work and time off
  • Managing compassion fatigue by celebrating victories – even the little ones
  • Reducing moral injury by focusing on addressable external causes, not internal blame
  • Developing resilience with the ADAPT and THRIVE processes

February 2021

Dr. Kira Mauseth provides an update during an all-staff webinar Feb. 9, 2021. She discusses the science behind the emotional and physical responses many of us are experiencing, the importance of focusing on resilience by staying connected, adjusting expectations and engaging in active listening.

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At the request of several employees, Dr. Kira Mauseth also shared her Feb. 9 presentation (PDF 774KB).

Key takeaways:

  • Your brain on COVID is like driving over Snoqualmie Pass with compact snow and ice with our tire chains on. You must proceed carefully. But our brains need a break from that kind of long-term stress.
  • Common stress responses range from irritability and trouble concentrating to aggression and substance abuse.
  • Keep a pad by the bed and write down the day's successes, however small. Give yourself credit.
  • Boost resilience by developing social connections, a sense of purpose (things larger than ourselves), adaptability, flexibility and hope.
  • Practice active listening to increase the connections between the speaker and the listener.
  • She presents methods to identify and de-escalate anger in ourselves and in those we interact with.

October 2020

Developed for an all-staff webinar on Oct. 12, 2020, this first presentation from Dr. Kira Mauseth helps to show that we are all affected by COVID-19 in our daily lives in ways that we may not recognize. It explains where we are on a larger scale with how we are each responding to this pandemic emotionally and physically at home and in the workplace. She explains the value of promoting personal, team and workplace resilience during COVID-19.

Specific ideas are shared about how to communicate and interact more effectively with others in the context of COVID-19, and how to increase our own sense of strength and resilience.

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Key takeaways:

  • Active listening is not listening to respond, but truly listening to what someone is trying to tell you. Curious about what that means? Check out the video at the 28:00 mark.
  • Emergency responders and other “can do” people like the team at WSDOT are not immune to being affected by the stress associated with the pandemic and related issues.
  • Professionals use all the tools in the toolbox. Please avail yourself of the resources available to you.
  • You are not alone. We are all struggling in our own way and need our own recipe to manage the day-to-day and be resilient. Walking and exercise helps Dr. Mauseth a lot – about 50 miles a week and 30 minutes daily rain or shine. It helps clear her head, prepare for the day and concentrate. That may not work for you and that's ok! Try different things and find what sticks.

If you need assistance, Employee Assistance Program resources are available to help. Also check the Washington State Coronavirus Response webpage.