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Hello DHS,

As you well know, these are difficult times. We are just at the beginning of a new biennium, facing program reductions and increasing workloads, and we're feeling the weight of it. How do I know that? Because I hear it from line staff and managers - and I appreciate your willingness to share that information with me! People have told me that they feel their mood is down, that they're preoccupied, distracted and more irritable than usual. They've said they begun to notice physical symptoms, like stomachaches, headaches and other signs of anxiety.

Anxiety and stress can affect us in so many ways. Personally, I know it's true, too. I've seen some of those characteristics in myself lately.

We are all in this together, and I've also heard that message from many of you. I believe it's true, too. We will get through these hard times together. I don't know if it's because I'm a mom or not, but I do find that I worry about the health and well-being of the people I work with. I think the number one piece of maternal advice I'd give to everyone is: don't give up on those healthy stress management skills that work for you.

We all have healthy coping skills that we use, whether it's walking or yoga or talking to friends, or even watching a funny movie. It's summer in Oregon - finally - so get outdoors when you can and appreciate the good weather, alone or with friends or family. We all have good strategies to help us through the tough times, so don't leave those behind now! It's also important during the work day to stay hydrated, take your breaks, and eat your lunch. Some DHS work units gone even further than that to be well together - taking health challenges together, going on walks outside during breaks, and creating book groups to give themselves mental and physical breaks during the day.

There is no doubt that our clients and our colleagues depend on each of us being well so that we can do our jobs. We're not only in this work together - we can help each other to be well together also. I know my messages are usually about work and agency business, but I thought I'd exercise my right to control one of the things that's part of my job and talk with you about the importance of recognizing the stress we're experiencing and DOING something about it. Please take good care of yourselves and your workmates, and have a great week.