Mental Health and Morale

Maintaining morale and mental health

1. The adjustment period. The worst time will be at the very start. Everyone’s world has just been turned upside down. If you have the energy, help other people to develop a positive narrative or script. If you don’t have the energy to deal with highly-stressed people, lay low for a week or two until people get their bearings.

2. Besides the “camping until the grid is fixed” script there is the “creating your unplugged life” script. This is an alternative existence for you, almost another kind of life for you. You can think of it as a sabbatical, or a long vacation in a country without electricity. Don’t be in “waiting mode,” pausing your life to wait for things to return to normal. Instead, actively make the most of this alternative, slower-paced “unplugged” time.

3. You can still move your life, relationships and career forward even in this period. You can learn and practice communication skills, assertiveness skills or learn other useful information.

4. Develop a routine. A large block of unstructured time is oppressive, so it’s important to develop a routine. Include walking or some other form of exercise. That releases endorphins that are mood enhancers.

5. Maintain the will to live. In quite times, journal or recall the things that made you glad to be alive. Also, make plans and visualize the personally fulfilling things you’ll do once the grid comes back. The world may be much different afterwards, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to strive for, and attain some personal fulfillment.

6. Help others to cope. You can share some of the vital information in this PDF. Helping others can take the focus off your own troubles. The people you help will also be in a better position to help you in the future.

7. If not enough dollars are available, help set up or participate in a local currency. This will encourage trade, productive activity and help give people a sense of stability. People can trade with small amounts of rice or beans, or four trustworthy people on a block can create a very local block currency with their signatures on paper. Assign a time value to one “block-dollar,” for instance ten minutes of work. Then give everyone on the block an equal amount of this money to kick off the new currency.

8. When children cannot go out and play, try to encourage them to develop elaborate fantasies or stories that carry them away in their imagination. Also, help them create games in which they decide the rules.

9. Communicating well with others is now much more important. Probably the most valuable communication skill is called “communication empathy.” It can help you relieve people’s stress; get to know who you’re dealing with better; and help build stronger, more intimate personal relationships. The goal of empathy is to communicate back the core message of what you heard.

When you are listening to people, keep tuning into three things: what the person is experience (what specifically happened to them); what they are feeling about the experience; and what they are doing in response to the experience. Once you have a sense of what you think is the main thing they are trying to share with you, you reflect back the core message.

Here are three examples:

“I get the feeling that you are really overwhelmed [feeling] with all the people living with us now [experience.]”

“Sounds like you are still angry [feeling] that the grid collapse has happened [experience] and interrupted your career.”

“You were exhausted and mentally worn out [feelings], so you decided to stay in your room and sleep and lounge around [behavior]”

Note that the first two examples have a tentative phrase, such as “I get the feeling” or “sounds like.” These phrases are usually important when first responding to people because you don’t know for sure what they are feeling. Once you have been accurate a few times in your response, the tentativeness and respect will be assumed.

It may seem that this is just parroting them, or telling them what they already know. But it’s actually very powerful because the reason that they were telling you something was wanting you to know how something made them feel. If you’re fairly on target, they will experience some relief or pleasure that someone is understanding and validating their experience. Validating their experience doesn’t mean that you condone or agree with their behavior; it just means that you are understanding what they are experiencing and feeling.

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