M.V. Berry, A.K. Geim
Christopher R. Chiodo, Kimberly K. Broughton, Max P. Michalski. Wit and Humor During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Use technology to spread smiles. With the current pandemic, we are more isolated than ever before. This can obviously take a toll on our psychological wellness and sense of community. Social media and electronic platforms offer a solution to this problem. To this end, members of younger generations commonly share humor and laughter electronically. For these individuals, memes and video segments have replaced witty dad jokes. Again, caution must come into play. Social media have permanency, and what one shares online can be seen by so many and even end up on the front page of the local newspaper.
Mix in other leadership tools. Humor is just one item in the toolbox of an effective leader. Now is the time to augment it with larger doses of other warmhearted interventions, such as expressions of gratitude and encouragement. A recent communication from the American Medical Association1 offered advice on addressing physician stress during the pandemic. One strategy was for leaders to “show compassion and empathy about what it’s like to be on the front lines.” Such gestures should be directed not only to physicians and nurses treating COVID-19 patients in the hospital but also to support staff who may be worried about furloughs and financial stress at home. Members of your team may have spouses and partners who have recently been laid off and have limited savings to weather the storm. For them, a few words of thanks or encouragement can go a long way.
Laugh and decompress outside of the workplace. Our team used to routinely go out for drinks at the end of the workday each Friday. Here we decompressed and laughed together. Humor abounded in this setting and fostered team cohesion. Unfortunately, such gatherings are now prohibited. On the bright side, a commercial videoconferencing platform allows us to still have weekly virtual wine and cheese gatherings. Despite the changes in our lives, we still smile and laugh, although probably not quite as much as we did before COVID-19. More important, though, we are together again in a relaxed and nonclinical environment.
With teamwork and fortitude, we will get through the current crisis and grow stronger for it. Until then, there will certainly be some challenging times. Smiles and laughter can hopefully brighten those moments, ease our stress, and help us get through this together. As one emergency room nurse concluded,
The text is published by SAGE journals