In My Own Words

Mental Health And How The Pandemic Made Me More Productive

Pamelie Hoang is Lead HR Generalist with the Shared Services HR Department.  She just celebrated her five year anniversary with UC Davis.  She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 and worked briefly as an onboarding specialist. 

2020 was a year of tremendous and painful growth. Here’s how it shaped me.

8 weeks into the Pandemic I wanted to quit my job. I felt like I was on a speeding train, heading somewhere dark and dangerous. I saw people on the same train who were also confused, scared, and fearful of what lay ahead. Some jumped off and I was ready to myself.

The thought of leaving my job was very strong. No matter what I told myself, I could not shake off the feeling of grief; that I might have lost something meaningful in life just trying to tend for this job. At the same time, I was feeling guilty for being ungrateful when I still have a job. These feelings pervaded me for weeks. At that time, things were not going well in my family either.

My closest family member was in the hospital due to a mental health crisis. I felt like the Pandemic had gotten the best of me. Calling or picking up the phone became dreadful; meetings became chores; people who tried to work with me became enemies who threatened my last bit of energy. Everything was out of control. I needed to do something. I had to inform my supervisor. I wanted to resign.

We spoke on the phone, and my intention was to put in my 2 weeks. As I shared my problems, she assured that she would support me during this time and insisted I talk to someone trained to help me cope with the stress that I was experiencing. Most powerfully, she helped me realize I was not alone. She referred me to ASAP on campus and provided time and space for me to rest and work on delegation. She also set-up a time to check-in on me weekly.

85 weeks passed and I am still here, but I work from a better place now. I am no longer the anxious and confused employee. As I spoke up about my problems, I received acceptance and care from my supervisor and my team. Our working relationship becomes stronger every day, as we give each other support. Who would know that being vulnerable could have such an impact on how someone engages?

Although still in this pandemic, I now have clarity rather than confusion. Bad things happen but they will pass. I am so glad that I did not submit my resignation. If I had, I would have missed the opportunity to witness humanity unfold in the midst of confusion and chaos. Throughout this time, I saw people jumping in and helping where needed. I saw unsung heroes who would go out of their way to assist a team member. I saw the encouraging words my team spoken to one another. I witnessed subtle forms of kindness, and that helped me get better. Thankfully, my family member also got better alongside me.

2021 marks my fifth anniversary with UC Davis and the SSO, and it has been time well spent! I look forward to new growth with my supervisor and team throughout this next chapter. Here are the gifts I learned from this experience to aid my sanity throughout this wild time:

Be present. It can be hard to focus when things occur at home and at work. Remind yourself to be in the moment and focus on the task. This keeps my mind from floating to different places.

.• Work in time increments. I use a timer- 20 minutes for routine tasks, 45 minutes for tasks that require deep thinking. Take a break after the timer goes off.

Take time to reflect. I use this time to check-in with myself. It takes only 5 minutes, and I become more aware of my emotions.

Walk away and temporarily remove yourself from the workspace. I do this when I feel stuck or frustrated. Instead of continuing to wrestle with problems I could not solve, I take a quick trip downstairs to pet my dog or get some water. Almost every time, I come back and approach the problem with a productive mindset.


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