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Mood Contagion

It was about two months ago when I wrote about how the news was hard to take, and how many of us have worked to contain our intake. If you’re like me, keeping to my self-imposed news intake limits has become increasingly difficult in the recent weeks given all that is going on with the Supreme Court hearings, the Carolinas and the upcoming US midterms. In Canada, folks are dealing with local chall-enges and opportunities, while also keeping a watchful eye on how changes in the US might impact them. These are turbulent times. It can be exhausting.

As leaders, your mood and focus have a powerful ripple effect. In times like these, it is especially important to watch mood contagion, and unfortunately, this is also when it’s hardest to do, so we’ve prepared a piece on managing energy and mood in difficult times.

So, what are some things that you can you do to keep yourself moving forward on an even keel?

Focus your efforts on the most impactful work. It’s likely that you are trying to do too much. Better to do a few things well, then to try to everything that you think needs to be done in these challenging times. Taking things off your plate can create calm, focused productivity. Before diving into a project, ask yourself, is this where I can have maximum influence?
Watch your pace. More and faster is not better, and it can overwhelm your team. Be realistic about the timeframe and volume in your work planning. Leave some open space in your workplan for the unanticipated challenges or opportunities. Encourage your staff to do the same.

Develop a plan A and a plan B, even a plan C. Look for opportunities but also plan for the worst. Have a plan now for different outcomes in the upcoming elections, or to anticipate possible abrupt changes in policy, or funding.

Make supporting yourself a top priority. Be kind and forgiving to yourself. Set aside time and give yourself permission to invest in your self-care. Take a break when you feel affected. Work less and you may find your productivity increases and your stress decreases.

As far as being frustrated with the news and current events, be sure you have outlets outside of your work too. Maybe it helps you to be with a group of friends with whom you can let off some steam (who are not your staff). Maybe vigorous exercise helps, or time in nature. Or maybe it helps you to volunteer, doing some community service or political campaigning. For me, I’m doing some volunteer canvassing which helps me to feel part of rebuilding civil discourse which is so sorely needed.

I’d love to hear about your mood contagion strategies.

Let’s stay in touch,


Background Image: American Rivers | Scott Bosse

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