Since the pandemic started, several friends and teammates have shared with me privately that they were not doing well emotionally. I’m grateful to each person who trusted me enough to tell me this. How about you — are you doing okay?
Last week, the Olympic gymnastic champion Simone Biles temporarily withdrew from competition because she didn’t feel mentally healthy enough to do her best and perhaps avoid a career-ending injury. She’s not alone in struggling with mental health. About 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic, according to one survey.
Once, after looking over a collaborator’s project, I said, “That’s really nice work” and got back a sad facial expression as though my collaborator was near tears. I asked if they were okay, wondering if I had said something wrong, but they paused and shook their head. After I probed gently a little more, they burst out crying and told me that my remark was the first appreciation they had received in longer than they could remember.
Many people outwardly look like they’re doing well, but inside they’re lonely, anxious, or uncertain about the future. If you’re feeling fine, that’s great! But if you’re among the millions who feel that something is off-balance, I sympathize, and I want you to know that I care about you and appreciate you.
As the pandemic wears on, many of us are hungry to connect with others more deeply. If this describes you, or if you want to help someone else who might feel this way, perhaps you can start by letting someone know you appreciate them or something they did. I think this will make them — and maybe you, too — feel better.