Mental Health Spotlight: 5 Samsara Employees Share Their Experience and Advice
A new study found that during the pandemic, the average American’s work week became 10% longer as the lines between work life and home life have increasingly blurred. This is contributing to increased burnout among employees.
At Samsara, we recognize that it has never been more important to take care of your mental health. Recently, we hosted a panel on mental health, moderated by Lindsay Tomson, Senior Program Manager of Employee Experience.
The frank discussion covered everything from burnout to self-care and more. Panelists included employees from all over Samsara:
Read on to hear about their experiences and advice for prioritizing mental health.
Q: What was it about this topic that resonated with you? Why did you decide to participate in our mental health panel today?
Andrew: Mental health has been a part of my life for a long time. I think it’s important to recognize that there are people around you—people that might be in management or leadership positions—that struggle with this, too. We're all in this together and we need each other's support to get through it.
Edward: I support several global teams. People may think, “Since you’re on the People team, part of your function is to be an expert on mental health and embody a mindful mentality at all times.” But, the truth is, mental health can be a challenge for anyone. It’s important to me to take the opportunity to be a part of this panel to share my insights and show that mental health affects all of us.
Gabby: I was really excited when I heard about this panel because I truly believe that the more we talk about it, the more comfortable we will become at accepting the reality that anxiety and depression are things that people experience on a daily basis. The more we acknowledge how commonplace it is, the more we can actually provide access to people who need support.
Nick: The reason I joined this panel is because I firmly believe mental health is a topic that deserves to be at the forefront of all discussions on general health. For too long, when people have spoken about health, they talk about it purely through the prism of physical health. I think that that's evolving now. Over the last year and a half, I have experienced some of my most trying times from a mental health standpoint (as has been the case for so many people). My hope for this conversation is that we take a step in the right direction of de-stigmatizing mental health—letting people know that it's okay to not be okay.
Ryan: Mental health plays a huge role in my every day—how I think, how I act, how I feel, and how I handle stressful situations in my work and personal life. It’s important to not only feel safe enough to speak candidly but be vulnerable and open enough to express how I actually feel.
Q: What did you find most challenging about working remotely this past year?
Gabby: Definitely the isolation, which I think probably resonates with everyone here. Of course, I missed my family and friends, but I also missed going into the Samsara office. I started my job here at the beginning of the pandemic. This is a time when you need a community the most, and access to that community was limited to digital interactions.
Andrew: Yeah, I would agree with that. I am a parent, and it was tough—having an in-home preschool running in the background, having to hop between meetings, making lunches, and things like that. Things started to get a little bit better when I took a lot more control and prioritized exercise. We eventually got a dog, which forces you to get out of the house a couple of times a day. So, it’s better but it's still a struggle sometimes to break out of the eight hours of Zoom.
Ryan: I think the most challenging part was the lack of in-person social interactions with my colleagues and friends. It's the small things: having conversations at my desk, having lunch, little catch-ups, and laughing in person—nothing beats that. I am generally an extroverted person and get energy from other people. So losing that energy and positivity really had an impact on my life more than I ever thought.
Q: How did your team support or strengthen you? What did you feel most grateful for as you balance work and personal responsibilities?
Gabby: Honestly, my team continues to be the thing that I'm most grateful for at Samsara. As you all know, at the height of the pandemic there was also an influx of media attention on police brutality against Black people—and I was alone in my apartment. I would talk to my friends about it, of course, but going through my day-to-day, I felt like I had to put a mask on and pretend like everything was okay. It was really, really, starting to get to me, and my team saw it. Each of them reached out to me individually in a way that gave me space to not respond if I couldn't or if I didn't want to. They wanted to make sure that I knew that they cared and that they were here to support me. I was new to the team and at this point, I barely knew them, but opening that door for me really changed the game completely. They allowed me to not be okay when I wasn't okay. Having that open communication and empowering each other to say, “I’m not okay right now,” really makes all the difference.
Andrew: I remember sitting down with my manager Kiren and saying, “This is a mess.” I'm trying to keep it together at home, trying to figure out childcare for my daughter, trying to work at the same time—and in that moment, he was incredibly thoughtful and responsive. He said, “I'm right there with you. We're both parents. We don't have to put on a charade. If you need time and space, take the time you need.” I saw that from my team as well. Everybody was incredibly responsive, flexible, and willing to make accommodations. That radiated throughout the organization—everybody who received that support and consideration wanted to reflect it back to others.
Q: What advice do you have for finding motivation and purpose?
Gabby: Take time to create silence around you and really listen to yourself. Listen to your intuition. When you try new things, does something spark joy in you? If you feel even an inkling of joy, you need to make time for that. Setting aside time for joy, happiness, and creativity helps me stay motivated in all of the other areas of my life.
Nick: Find your goal. What are you working towards? Why are those goals important? Be really specific and clear with yourself. I think professionals who are early in their careers are often working towards titles, money, power, and influence. What I've come to find is that those things are not satisfying. I would encourage everyone to work towards happiness, fulfillment, and the things that really matter to you. That way you can prioritize what needs to be done. You cannot sprint forever. You've got to find a working pace that you can kick into a higher gear if you need to—but also a pace that can be sustained.
Ryan: My advice is to avoid negativity as much as possible. I think sometimes our phones can be the biggest source of negativity. Take a break. Focus on things that don't make you feel drained, but make you feel gratitude. Surround yourself with positive people who make you feel your best.
We support each other at Samsara. Join our team.
Samsara understands the importance of mental well-being to our overall health. We invest in the well-being of our employees, so they can bring their best selves to work. That’s why we partner with Spring Health to provide mental wellness benefits that include therapy and coaching sessions, in-app wellness exercises, and more.
Samsara is hiring, and we’re looking for people who are interested in building a lasting company that makes a positive impact on the world. Check out our open roles and apply today.