365 days+ of living and working differently due to the pandemic …

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365 days. That’s how long many of us have been working and living differently due to the pandemic. Depending on where we are in the world, it may have even been longer. Some of us have returned to working in physical locations following COVID-19 safety protocols. Some of us continue to work from home. We have adapted to new ways of working and together we have come through this challenging time by working together.

No matter where we work, we all rose to the challenge of excelling during unprecedented times without missing a beat. What’s fascinating about last year, 2020, is that so many of these words like Quarantine, Social distancing went from being words that we maybe have heard of and we might have used very occasionally, to basically become part of almost every single conversation that we are having.

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Though many businesses closed, people did find ways to meet their needs — not their wants, not their usual level of living, but their needs. The government pitched in to help. School kids and teachers learned to “go to school” remotely.

From the economic perspective, small businesses were definitely hit hardest by revenue declines. The study cites data from JPMorgan Chase showing small business revenues were down 9 percent from pre-pandemic levels, even after a 40 percent drop off in April 2020. But the study also cites data from Opportunity Insights showing small business revenues are down 38 percent from before the pandemic.

As hard as that initial wave of closures hit some, it still did not lead to a spike in defaults on loans or stiffing suppliers among small businesses across the country. In some ways it makes sense — Black business owners historically have had the hardest time accessing credit, so many that might have closed simply didn’t have loan payments to fall behind on. Even for those that folded their businesses, the data suggest at least they were careful not to burn bridges with lenders or suppliers while they have been waiting to see if they can re-open successfully.

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Recently, many states have begun to “open up,” jumpstarting economic activity and encouraging citizens to return to a new normal way of life. Although many Americans are slowly getting back to a life outside the home, the lingering mental and emotional toils of the coronavirus pandemic look like they are here to stay for the foreseeable future forcing us to adapt to a new normal.

Now more than ever, Americans must take a proactive approach to managing their mental and emotional health. As a society, we have long downplayed the importance of tending to our emotional health in large part due to the stigma surrounding ailments of the mind. But now as so many more of us are reaching our emotional “tipping points” given all of the change and uncertainty we are currently facing; we must ensure that we have a common everyday vernacular and approach for actively optimizing our own emotional health — and teaching our children how to do the same for the betterment of future generations to come.

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