We are in a season of transitions. Whilst eased pandemic rules have brought relief to many, uncertainties around the continued presence and impact of COVID-19 remains. As family, friends and colleagues return from summer holidays and prepare to return to work and school routines, we are also conscious of those who have left Hong Kong. Transitions can be cyclical, but they can also be a one-off, unpredictable occurrence. For our own well-being, it is important that we learn to manage these changes well.
Hong Kong is undergoing changes that impact gender equality as well. Demographic changes are developing more quickly than previously estimated – COVID-19 has contributed to a decrease in population which is compounded by low birth rates that are well below replacement level. With an already rapidly ageing society, these changes underscore the importance of addressing needs around elder care and caregiving in addition to early retirement ages and age-related discrimination in the workforce – all issues which disproportionately impact women.
Transitions to more time online at work and for leisure has also led to concerning developments, with separate surveys finding that nearly three-quarters of employees are unhappy and are feeling overworked and 1 out of 6 respondents reporting having experienced online sexual harassment -- both issues for which women are particularly vulnerable. A recent complaint made to the Equal Opportunities Commission on restrictive rules around hair length for male students has sparked debate around gender bias and outdated norms.
These are a few examples out of a multitude of issues facing our society for which we are unsure of the outcomes.
As we at TWF know first-hand, organisations and advocates who continually work on these issues and for the communities affected by these challenges, juggling these uncertain outcomes in so many areas of our lives can take a toll on our physical and mental well-being.
So what can we do during transitional periods to safeguard our own equanimity and that of others?
Take a pause, sit with your emotions – Whilst we are all familiar with the benefits of keeping a positive mindset, solely being positive at the expense of recognising less positive feelings does not allow for deeper insights and the necessary processing of other emotions. Watching this talk by Susan Cain on the value of the bittersweet, listening to this interview on sitting with anxiety and reading these resources on ways to process the feeling of being overwhelmed may be a helpful start.
Stay connected – With the continuation of the pandemic and a shift towards permanent hybrid and remote work arrangements, there has been a surge in loneliness with two in five people globally noting they have become lonelier over a six-month period. Connection is vital to our well-being. Consider these recommendations at work and in your community to build meaningful connections.
Cultivate radical imagination – Periods of transition invite us to consider new paths forward and new possibilities that may await. To do so requires the work of the imagination. Feminist Adrienne Maree Brown’s interview on the transformative force of imagination in driving our present provides a firm foundation on this topic.
As we go through this period of change, let's greet it with open possibility and optimism, let’s be kind to ourselves and others, and let’s use our agency to create better outcomes for all.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.