While some of the country has been forced to stay at home as businesses closed due to the coronavirus, many people are still waking up every day and heading into work to provide us with the essential services we need. To back such workers and give them an outlet to talk about their struggles through this pandemic, one local business owner has started a support group for just such a purpose.
Stacey Molengraaf, owner of Activate Mindfulness, has partnered with a clinical social worker to give workers a safe place to talk about what is happening in their lives and both share and expand their toolboxes to get through their day.
“The support group for essential workers specifically came out because of everything that is happening with COVID. So I was able to partner with Suzane Reid, who is a wonderful local clinical social worker,” said Molengraaf. “Together we’re able to hold a space for people to talk about both the challenges and the tools … and the strengths that they’re bringing to this lockdown.”
She says the therapeutic value of the group is twofold as it allows people to get affirmation and gain new tools through mindfulness.
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“About 75 per cent (is) chatting and then 25 per cent, kind of that last portion is we’ll go through a guided mindfulness practice … just a really simple practice that they can be taking into work with them each day,” she said.
Each week, three or four questions are posted on the ‘Meetup’ page revolving around things which have taken place. Those questions varying from what challenges people each day to what sparks inspiration, determines the topic of discussion.
The group has been running for three weeks and has been averaging about three members per session. Molengraaf says the members range from those who are working at home to essential workers who are continuing their jobs as they normally would.
Eventually she plans on blending the format of the group so she can reach more people online, but also create an in-person group as well.
“There definitely is value to being in person … being able to see people and give people hugs, there’s so much value to that. On the other hand, the value of being online is that we can reach a lot more people. Sometimes programs like this are available in large cities, but not so much in small cities,” she said.
Molengraaf’s business focuses on building mindfulness and helping people find value, meaning and purpose in their lives. She also runs classes on yoga, mindfulness and educates people through social media on how to use mindfulness on improving mental health, and finding their true meaning.
She says the need for these teachings came after COVID-19 hit and she believes in the values she’s learned through her journey and teachings of mindfulness for more than a decade.
Essential workers who want to learn more about the group can find out more on Molengraaf’s website and can join meetings through the website ‘Meetup.’