Every morning at EAC, we tune in to the NSW Government Covid update so we can share the latest announcements with our members, and help ensure you are informed and well prepared for whatever comes next.
As Covid cases have climbed and lockdowns have been extended, this daily task has become a depressive little ritual that begins with high hopes, quashed (thanks for the word, Premiere), as freedom seems to slip further from our grasp.
As a country, we have focused a lot on Covid cases and on physical health over the last 18 months. We have spent a lot of time considering our economy. We have obsessed over vaccine options, numbers and accessibility.
In real estate, our businesses and our clients have been at the centre of our thoughts. Our member agents have learned and applied new legislation, taken long and emotional calls with cash-strapped tenants, and had equally difficult conversations with struggling landlords.
And while, on occasion, we have all had a little complain, let out some exasperation at extended restrictions and wondered when we might ever get to eat in a restaurant again…
…have we really stopped to process how we feel, and how we are dealing with this new way of life?
Recently, one online article made a very good point – if something of this magnitude happened only to us, in our individual, personal lives; something that isolated us, stopped us seeing loved ones, threatened our well-being and future – we would probably take some time off to deal with our mental health.
If it happened to someone else, we’d see it as completely understandable for them to take a little leave so they can come to grips with this massive change, and find some emotional stability before rejoining the team.
And yet, because this happened to all of us at once, we haven’t taken that time for self-care.
People who have lost their jobs are encouraged to keep their head up high – “at least you’re getting government allowances”.
People who are suddenly full-time workers from home AND educators, are dismissed – “now you know how teachers feel”.
People who still have a job, and don’t have to teach, but miss their families, friends and loved ones, are being made feel guilty because – “you are in the best position right now, and shouldn’t complain”.
But the fact is, Covid isn’t just a virus that is physically attacking us, it is also attacking our societal structure, our sense of community and connection, and our work/life balance (because no one can actually have a life).
This is a big deal, and no matter which of the positions listed above you are in, or if you are experiencing something entirely different, you have every right to feel overwhelmed, worried, anxious or sad.
Agents are often very social people…
And as such, this shift that restricts your movements, your interaction with sellers, engagement with buyers and even your down time with family and friends can have a big affect on your well-being.
The side effects of such a monumental change and so much uncertainty and isolation, can be:
- Feeling unmotivated and finding it more difficult to get up in the morning. Feeling helpless, directionless or uncertain – whether in your personal life (when will I see my friends again?) or your work-life (what will happen in the market?) – can affect your motivation and drive.
- Lower productivity. It can be easy to blame a slight drop in output on extended zoom meetings when working from home, or talking to someone in the kitchen at work. Maybe sometimes this chattiness is just a procrastination technique so you don’t have to get back to a harder task. Sometimes, though, it also might just be that this person is the first you’ve spoken to all day, and it’s already 4pm, so you just need some human contact.
- Difficulty interacting with colleagues or clients. For those of us who live alone, or perhaps are single parents or carers, lockdown can be a lonely time, with little or no meaningful, in-person, adult conversation. Not surprisingly, a solid stretch (say, four or eight weeks of lockdown), without these conversations can mean that when the chance for a chat comes – even online – a little social anxiety can creep in, and interacting can feel awkward or uncomfortable.
- Crying when Olympians get their medals. We had to throw this one in because so many are reporting it. If you’re not usually an ‘I’ve got something in my eye’ kind of person, feeling really emotional can be a sign you are overwhelmed and anxious. During the Games, it can also be a sign of some mind-blowing sporting performances! Who didn’t cry when Jess Fox got her gold?
We can help each other
Lockdown is not only a time when we have the least contact with other human beings outside our household, but it is also the time when a lot of us need that contact the most.
We need the comfort of another person or people when times feel tough and uncertain.
As members of EAC, we are all one big community, and over the years, we have seen how this community has come together to support each other through natural disasters, economic downturns and so many other times of crisis.
During lockdown, you can help support someone else in our community, in your own local community or in your office by:
- Acknowledging every individual’s experience is different. All of us have moments when everything gets on top of us, even if we appear to come from the perfect life or ‘have it better than others’. In times like this, it’s important we really focus on not making people feel guilty about the feelings they have, but instead, provide support as they try to work through them.
- Understanding competing obligations. Right now, there are a lot of distractions in our lives that can affect our ‘work time’, whether it’s trying to teach kids at home, or just waiting in line for three hours for a Covid test. As directors of agencies, or managers, we need to understand some of these situations are very unavoidable under the current conditions, and allow the flexibility our employees need to fulfil all their obligations.
- Scheduling regular check ins. We often forget that people who don’t have a partner but do have kids, can feel really alone, especially in times of crisis. Carers can feel very isolated. Anyone, regardless of their situation, can feel disconnected. Remember to reach out regularly to family, friends and colleagues in affected areas with one simple question, ‘how are you doing today?’
- Respecting everyone’s right to health and safety. During Covid, even though some people will be able to go the office, they may prefer not to, because they are afraid, don’t want to spread the virus, or want to protect others in their household or vulnerable relatives. Ensuring you have open lines of communication with employees, so they can discuss their reasons for selecting to work from home can make them feel more comfortable and means they won’t be concerned about approaching you with any future issues.
It’s been said many times before, but these are unprecedented times, and more than ever, we need to be mindful of our own experience and response, and the experience of others who may be struggling.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.