“Are you OK?”: Managing Your Mental Health During the Pandemic

REALTORS® are natural caretakers in the ways they help clients find the perfect home. But as COVID-19 continues to bring about stress and uncertainty, how are they taking care of themselves?

The Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area has been talking to its members about how they’re feeling throughout the pandemic. REALTORS® in that area are using a wide range of tactics and techniques to keep themselves and their teams feeling mentally well, according to the board’s Executive Officer, Sharon Watts.

“Our members are using Zoom to keep their teams connected, holding weekly meetings and sometimes even more often than that,” Watts says. “One manager said their team shares a laugh-a-day email to keep spirits up, and others have held virtual lunchtime wellness events with guest speakers.” The Fredericton board also promotes the resources available on the local government website to members, as well as Chamber of Commerce webinars.

“Mental well-being has been a concern for REALTORS® since the initial market freeze-up in April 2020,” Watts says. “A lot of our members were worried about their incomes in the early days. Since then, there have been different stresses.” The surge that followed the market’s initial downturn has brought sustained high demand while inventory is low. Multiple offers are routine in many markets across the country and clients are upset when they lose a bid. REALTORS® are managing intense pressure in a remote-work, physically distanced environment.

If there’s a takeaway from the past year for the Fredericton board, it’s that more can be done to promote members’ mental health, Watts says. “We’ve been fabulous at providing COVID-19 updates, but we haven’t been doing enough on mental wellness. That’s changing.”

Self-care and connection are key

Many of the solutions Fredericton REALTORS® have come up with align with expert advice about how to cope with a crisis like COVID-19. Creating opportunities for people to connect and talk about how they’re doing is considered highly important. So is taking a break and stepping back when things get to be too much, and setting different expectations about what’s achievable in a given situation.

“I’ve established a routine where I bring myself moments of joy that don’t depend on outside circumstances,” says Emmanuelle Meyer, a broker in Oakville, Ontario. “For the team, we share our stories and our challenges as a group of friends would.”

One obstacle to overcome is the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues. Even seemingly innocent language can have unintended harmful effects. Watts points to the term “bully offer” as an example. “I never thought twice about it before, but now I see the stress it can cause.”

Caring for communities

REALTORS® aren’t alone in finding the pandemic psychologically and emotionally difficult. Overall, Canadians’ financial, health and social satisfaction is at its lowest since 2003. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five Canadians was expected to experience a mental health problem or illness in their lifetime.

Facts like these have led a growing number of REALTORS® to look for ways to support mental health in their communities more broadly. In 2019, the Fredericton board raised more than $12,000 for Chimo Helpline, a crisis phone line that serves all of New Brunswick. Earlier this year, Meyer engaged her professional network to create Camaraderie of Hope, a non-profit that raises funds for Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), Halton’s 24/7 mobile crisis support service.

“I had this idea that I couldn’t leave people with no hope, scared in this pandemic” says Meyer. “I reached out to other business owners and almost all of them immediately said, ‘Yes, I’m on board’.”

How has your brokerage or team dealt with stress, anxiety or other mental health issues during the pandemic? Tell us in the Comments below.

Free mental health resources

If you or a team member are experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health challenges, the resources below may help. If you are in crisis, contact Crisis Services Canada online or by phone at 833-456-4566.

Other resources include:

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.

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