Finding Resilience and Peace During a Pandemic | The COVID-19 Experience from the NOD Team
Blog by Priyanka Ghosh, Director of External Affairs, NOD
Breath has a way of connecting us. It is universal and symbolic of life itself.
If we try, we can take note of the sensations and sounds of the air carried into and out of our lungs.
I have been a practitioner of breath work and meditation for a long time. It has become a way of life. Something that grounds me. And I recognize its importance now more than ever. I see its relevance for me, for those around me, whether I know them or not. Each of us needs to discover that something which centers us, that brings calm into the chaos that we feel around us.
The stress and anxiety that COVID-19 has thrown into this world is unprecedented. Everything has shifted in ways we never anticipated. Things we took for granted just a few months ago are now a privilege. As a result, many are struggling with mental health issues, including loneliness and depression. Nationally, we highlight May as Mental Health Awareness Month. The need to draw attention to mental health issues is greater than ever this year. We must especially learn from one another how to cope with these challenges.
Some focus on exercise, cooking and online creative classes, to name a few. I turn to Art of Living online meditation classes. The work we all do on ourselves, finding out who we are at our core and what makes us calm, is important. It is hard to help others if we are unable to mitigate the stresses in our own lives. Understanding that, will influence how well we get through the coronavirus crisis.
Whatever our coping mechanism, we all need employers to promote a work culture that supports people who are feeling stressed and anxious right now, and assists those who need more help at this time.
At the National Organization on Disability, we understand better than most what mental health challenges people are facing on a regular basis.
Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. adults, nearly 47.6 million people, experience serious mental illness each year. Added to that, more than 50 percent of Americans will manage a mental health condition at some point in their lives. What is worrisome is that those are statistics gathered pre-COVID-19.
A poll just released in April by the Kaiser Foundation shows that about half of adults feel the pandemic is impacting their mental health. Almost one in five says it’s been a major impact.
Employers can no longer ignore these statistics. If mental health and well-being of employees go unchecked, businesses will see increased absenteeism, lost productivity and higher health care costs.
Beyond the financial side, a more human element is in play here. Employees need to know there is flexibility and understanding within their work culture to not just survive but thrive through this pandemic.
Corporate America must create a place where employees know it is okay to share their stories and struggles with their leaders, managers and colleagues. They should be able to share how they truly feel without fear of judgement or repercussions.
Creating that kind of culture takes effort. The tone is set by top leadership, generating an environment where empathy is embedded. This leads to everyone being considerate of one another.
If this crisis has taught us one thing it is that we are all connected. We are in this together and we will get through this together. Every one of us has the capacity for resilience. This is a trait that people with disabilities use every single day to navigate a world that was not built for them. This is also something that businesses need in abundance right now.
Meditation builds that resilience for me. Irrespective of what is happening in the outside world, one can find inner calm and discover the ability to move ahead. It also brings peace and hope. Peace that casts out anxiety. Hope that we continue to support one another, not just now but always.
The months ahead will be challenging ones. Let’s all look for ways to find calmness and strength in our lives and a tranquility that allows everyone to become their own beam of light. If we all discover ways to do this, we can find a peace that will last well beyond a pandemic.
To experience breath work and the joys of inner peace here is one of my favorite videos:
As the director of external affairs, Priyanka Ghosh leads strategic communications and marketing initiatives that engage, mobilize and advance the mission and brand for the organization.
A seasoned communications specialist, she brings years of global experience of working with the United Nations (UN) and most recently, EngenderHealth. Priyanka holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and went on to specialize in development communication. She also pursued a degree in entrepreneurship with a focus on marketing.