Engagement Reflections during COVID-19

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Communications

It’s an interesting time and by that I mean panicked, lonely, unsure, fearful… you know all the things we actually mean when we say “interesting”. Most of our projects have halted or been dramatically changed and our training schedule will be guided by what is safe and appropriate for our participants…so right now it remains unknown for the immediate and short-term future.

During this time I have had not so much good and bad days, but good and bad hours. During good hours, I count my blessings, appreciate our current state of health (no small feat) and focus on gratitude. During bad hours, I am fretting about the unknowns, the strain on individuals, families, communities and businesses big and small, and on our healthcare workers and system who are overwhelmed.

As I often say in training, engagement is a human experience, and so is this. We are experiencing this together, but in different ways. How we engage in this pandemic may either bring us together or further divide us. We might come together, do what is needed to reduce transmission or we might let our own needs guide us to the exclusion of thinking of our broader community, indeed the greater good. Never before has engaging been so easy and so hard. On the one hand we need to stay home, and on the other we crave “normal” and “our routine”. As you engage in this current state, I have five suggestions that might be helpful to trying to have more good hours, than bad. They have started to work for me:

  • Journal: I have started a COVID-19 journal. It’s short, has a running grocery list of things to order online, articulates my panic when one of the kids coughs, and includes some small daily goals (drink eight cups of warm water). Writing things down helps us to turn our experience into a narrative. It will also help us in the future to look back and recognize: “wow, what was such a hard time and I am stronger now.”
  • Meditate: Some people already do, some think it’s not for them. I use the Calm app every night and have been trying to train my mind. The routine alone of starting my app up helps me gear down and get ready to sleep. Maybe it’s a mantra, maybe it’s a motivational quote or verb from your book of worship, whatever it is, now is a good time to try and train the mind.
  • Routine: My brother often talks about “the box we need to put our mind in”. His was an entirely different context, but I do feel that routine can give us a box that feel more “normal”. For us, we made a schedule with the kids, we have a handwashing routine, a vitamin routine, a routine for FaceTime and dance parties and god help us, painting… so much painting! This time at home, particularly if you have kids, can be the time that the kids had more of you. They will remember (I am hoping) the painting and dance parties more than you on the couch addicted to bad news.
  • News: I am trying to give it up. It doesn’t serve me, help me feel less anxious or more calm. It can terrify me, piss me off (stay home people!) and overwhelm. You know what you need to do: stay home, assume you and everyone else is sick, wash your hands, rest, stay hydrated and maybe say a little prayer or two. I will admit cold turkey didn’t work for me, so I built specific “news times” into my routine and allowed myself the option to swap it for Netflix. This does make it easier 😊
  • The happy thing: I love to read, I love to knit, I love to cook and guess what… I rarely have time. So, I realized: I can spend my time in panic watching the news, or I can turn it off, light a candle and read a book, knit, or call a friend. Time is always a gift, always, so cherish it, don’t fight it or wish it away.

In the coming weeks we will post and offer webinars about online engagement techniques, ideas, and other tools to support you in your P2 practice, but for now we just wanted to say “hi” and hope you are doing ok in these “interesting” times.