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Rider's Almanac Blog

On the job and at home, mindfulness matters

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, April 8, 2021 9:20:00 AM

Operator Yolanda Sims with her grounding card.

Yolanda Sims doesn’t get a lot of time to herself. But, as a mother and as a bus operator, she also knows how important those quiet, contemplative moments are to her mental health and to her ability to be there for those who rely on her. “If you’re not able to decompress, you’re no good to anyone else,” she said. “You have to take that time to relax.”  

The belief was recently reinforced when Sims was on a call with other women from Metro Transit who participated in a mindfulness exercise – planting their feet on the floor, letting their arms hang by their sides, breathing deeply and picturing themselves in some distant, serene setting.   

Now, Sims is hoping other operators will be open to seeing how mindfulness can be incorporated into their work and home lives.   

With support from the Metropolitan Council’s Wellness Coach Ashley Starr and Equity & Inclusion Specialist Sarah Berres, she helped conceive, create and distribute grounding cards with suggested mindfulness practices – naming things you can see, touch and hear, sitting in a chair and stomping your feet or gently pressing the inside of your wrist. The cards have been made available at each garage.  

Sims, an informal mentor and consummate helper, knows what works for her may not work for others. But she also knows her fellow operators can’t afford to overlook their own needs, and that any comfort that can be offered should be.   

“This has been a hard time for everybody, but you can’t let anyone steal your peace, steal your joy,” she said. “That’s not an easy task but it can be learned.”