Many of us have seen a closer alignment of our personal and professional lives, because of the pandemic-driven widespread practice of working from home.
Through various virtual meeting platforms, we saw our colleagues’ and associates' families, pets, delivery drivers, and even home repair people while conducting the business at-hand via our computer monitors. We even experienced a variety of milestones with our associates during the pandemic. Added to this complicated equation was the work of those who were serving as educators for their children during our “distance learning” period.
Today, we know that these virtual interactions accentuated emotional health issues like isolation and loneliness that many people experienced during the pandemic. That’s one of the reasons why a recent keynote discussion with Olympian Michael Phelps, at the Medical Alley Association annual dinner, resonated so strongly with attendees.
Founded in 1984, the Medical Alley Association supports and advances the global leadership of Medical Alley’s healthcare industry, and its connectivity around the world. Medical Alley is a strong partner of Meet Minneapolis. Together, we work to expand awareness of the prowess of our state’s medical industry that employs 500,000 professionals at organizations with which we work with to attract their meetings and events.
More than 1,000 members of Minnesota’s medical community gathered at U.S. Bank Stadium for their annual meeting and heard Phelps speak. The most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time with 28 medals (including 23 gold medals) provided intimate details of the mental health struggles he has faced over the years, including depression and suicidal thoughts.
His message was concise and candid:
- He encouraged the audience to be as aware of mental health as one’s physical health.
- Even as a legendary Olympian, he conceded “I guess we’re human.”
- Despite his notoriety and access to mental health resources, he said he still goes through “dark times.”
Phelps encouraged leaders to be authentic every day and explained that if a leader is not authentic, or even vulnerable, those around them will not feel that they have the permission to be the same. That is vital in our support for those with whom we work. He strongly urged those in attendance to offer help if we see someone struggling.
Meet Minneapolis has worked hard to provide additional resources to our team to assist those who may be facing emotional or mental health challenges. However, as our lives are getting back to normal, we must remain vigilant in tending to the needs of our colleagues and ourselves. Regarding self-care, Phelps noted that if we do not pay attention to our emotional health, “we are cheating ourselves.”
Phelps uses tools like journaling and talking openly about his struggles. I urge us all to use these or other tools as we continue to assess the impact of pandemic life on our emotional state.