By Mary Shelato, WriterGirl client services manager

A friend of mine used to say that 2020 would be our year. We talked endlessly about how all our hard work would pay off professionally and made milestones for where we wanted to be personally at the end of 2020. Well, it certainly has been a year, but not the one that we imagined.

The author's son face-down in a deck chair

How my youngest feels about quarantine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have faced challenges we never expected within our personal and professional lives. Mental health during COVID-19 has also taken a hit.

At the same time, many of us celebrated huge milestones in new and different ways. As time marches on and we all adjust to what will be our normal for the foreseeable future, I look around and see my friends, families and coworkers worn thin. And, if I’m honest, online school, kids around me all the time while trying to work, and no in-person contact is really starting to wear on me, too. I’m an introvert and a homebody, and all I want to do is go to a networking event and talk to as many strangers as possible. 2020 is making people do strange things.

So earlier this month, on a day when I could feel myself itching for extra human connection and getting into my feelings about how this is my new normal for likely another school year, I asked my WriterGirl colleagues “What is helping your mental health right now?” And let me tell you — they delivered.

>Read more: How the WriterGirl team is spending life in quarantine: Our tips and advice

A focus on wellness and mental health during COVID-19

I initially thought that there would be separate tips for how my teammates are managing their new normal personally and professionally. I also thought there would be copious amounts of wine, sweets and stretchy pants. I was wrong.

Of all the things we are doing right now as a team, many of them are focused on improving overall mental health by centering themselves and practicing gratitude. While all of my coworkers responded with very different answers, there were six main themes:

  • A great workout or time specifically set aside to be active
  • Fancy adult beverages like lattes or cocktails depending on the time of day
  • Getting outside at the lake, in a park or in a garden
  • Practicing gratefulness and gratitude daily
  • Quality time with a pet either at the park or on a walk
  • Uninterrupted time with the children
Author's family in their backyard enjoing a picnic.

One of my family’s backyard picnics

And wouldn’t you know it, those match up with our company culture pretty closely. We meditate at the start of each team meeting. We hold a virtual group workout class every Friday. We have the occasional happy hour, and many of our team meetups (pre-COVID-19) were events held outside or in the spirit of volunteering. I think it’s pretty cool that what many of us are doing to manage our overall wellness is baked into our work culture as well.

What else did this exercise show me? I’m grateful to work for such a great place where being in a good state mentally is valued just as much as being in a good place professionally. Practicing gratitude is what is saving me right now — along with sweets, stretchy pants and impulse Instagram ad purchases.

I’m curious, what is helping you right now?

If you have found yourself feeling overwhelmed, or if you feel like you are dominating 2020, I want to know: What is helping you right now?

Whether it’s the perfect email sign off, a new drink to try, or just sitting in the sun quietly — I want to know. Email me or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Author with her two sons

A mom and kids date night at home with no technology allowed

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