3Mers coming together to combat anxiety and build community
“What is happening?!” This may be one of the most commonly asked questions in the world right now. The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt by many and they’re causing increased levels of anxiety. According to a recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association, more than one-third of Americans say the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health and day-to-day lives. 3Mers are no different, but by tapping into 3M’s culture of innovation and inclusion, they’re finding healthy ways to identify, combat and experience anxiety together.
Creating a forum for conversation and connection
“Stepping into the unknown and uncertain impacts an individual’s emotional and mental energies,” said 3M’s Corporate Medical Director, Dr. Oyebode Taiwo. This reality was frequently reinforced in conversations amongst 3M’s global employee resource networks—communities of 3Mers who regularly connect over their shared experiences, backgrounds and perspectives.
“The topics of coping with the isolation of working from home and staying connected were the focus of a number of employee resource networks’ virtual lunch and learns,” shared 3M’s Chief Diversity Officer, Ann Anaya. “The insights shared at our virtual network meetings were the catalyst for my team to quickly partner with Dr. Taiwo and other key HR leaders to develop and host a virtual event that could reach a broader 3M audience and answer some of the questions that are top of mind for 3Mers.”
On May 4, Ann and Dr. Taiwo, along with HR partners Jonathan Hefner and Rodrigo Gonzalez, led the hour-long event, “Coping with Anxiety and Supporting Well-being During COVID-19.” More than 670 tuned in to have their questions answered and voices heard. Popular topics amongst attendees included how to manage work-life balance when working virtually, how to deal with anxiety and help those close to you deal with anxiety, and the positive ways to stay connected with others – personally and professionally.
“3M’s Employee Assistance Program is always a great resource for 3Mers and has really proven to be even more helpful during these uncertain times,” said Jonathan. “Over the past few months, we’ve seen a significant increase in intense and emotional conversation regarding the pandemic and the impact on employees’ lives. These conversations allowed us to anticipate some of the questions 3Mers might ask during the event and we were able to get them to the exact resource quickly.”
Based on the positive reaction to the May 4 event and knowing this is an ongoing conversation, leaders are quickly working on the next event. “We want to provide even more opportunities to hear from 3Mers to understand how they’re feeling and how we can help,” said Ann. “The next event will allow us to dive a little deeper into the range of emotions people shared based on feedback from the first event and how to have courageous conversations about our feelings of vulnerability and the need to support each other.”
Addressing anxiety through virtual community
In addition to the broader, more formal company-wide events, there are grassroots efforts being led by 3Mers across the globe, all aiming to help each other identify, manage and work through their anxiety.
3M Inspire – a community of nearly 1,300 3Mers who are dedicated to the practice of mindfulness – has turned their weekly 30-minute, in-person mindfulness sessions into virtual events, as well as increased the number of virtual events offered each week. “The response to our virtual events has been amazing,” shared Vicki Tokie, Value Management leader and 3M Inspire steering committee member. “We are seeing attendance grow and with more 3Mers from around the globe.”
In addition to the weekly sessions, the 3M Inspire team recently led a mindfulness experience with 3M’s Occupational Health Nurses, those who work at 3M and are looking after the well-being of 3Mers. “Our goal was to help the nurses increase their awareness of how to be more adaptable to changing circumstances and provide them more details about 3M Inspire,” said Vicki.
Taking three deep breaths
If events practicing mindfulness are not for you, there’s something we can all do anywhere—take three deep belly breaths. Betsy Buehrer, 3M Physician, shared, “A simple breathing technique of three deep belly breaths are enough to release endorphins to counteract the cortisol building up in the body during a stressful moment. This all can result in a reduced heart rate and blood pressure, and a more relaxed body.”
So, let’s all take three deep belly breaths and remember to come together. Even though our personal circumstances may vary, we’re all experiencing the impact of the pandemic.