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Stressed Out from COVID-19, Fires, Program Deliverables?

I sense that 2020 events have many people stressed out.

by Eric Holdeman / September 22, 2020

By participating in many a Zoom and conference call, I do sense that emergency managers are both tired and stressed. It all started with the COVID-19 pandemic and then depending where you live, we have had fires, hurricanes, flooding, drought, dam failures, tornadoes, protests, riots, etc. People are tired and wondering what's next. Locusts?

This comes directly from the International Association of Emergency Managers. Specifically addressing reducing stress and a few techniques might be helpful. See the text below and then the link at the end.

"Recent studies find that engaging in creative activities reduces cortisol levels (the “stress hormone”) and improves mental health and resilience. Our brains are hardwired for novelty, and introducing even small changes or experiences, stimulates dopamine release (the “feel good” hormone). Like physical exercise, creative stimulation engages and focuses the mind differently and distracts from feelings of stress and anxiety. It is also linked to brain centers for memory, learning, and emotional regulation. But how do you leave room for novelty and creativity when the pace feels relentless and never-ending?"

Creativity takes many forms. One simple, low-effort activity is collaborative art. Engage one person or many easily, in less than 1-5 minutes.


  • Put up some large pieces of butcher paper, poster board, or canvas roll/sheet in your Operations Center, at your home office, or other setting.
  • Provide some markers, paints, crayons, or other materials to use throughout the day(s).
  • Draw, write, express feelings, and encourage others in your environment (colleagues, family, etc.) to take part whenever they can. Idea challenge: Can you find a way to do it virtually?

It’s not only a way to engage your brain differently, but a way to remember and capture the moment. Idea: Many people/groups save them and frame them, or upcycle into other art forms for display.

See also this link, which is an infographic for more information and ideas.

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