Nearly a year into the COVID – 19 pandemic we are in our 3rd lockdown and nearly everyone has faced mental health challenges. Health concerns, the pressure of homeschooling and long periods of isolation are affecting us all. With vaccines being rolled out there is some light at the end of the tunnel but at the moment the situation can often feel bleak.
It has been an important focus for us to help our employees as much as we can during the pandemic. Making sure we acknowledge and assist them with any mental health issues they face.
We wanted to share with you the advice and support we are providing for our staff to hopefully help others who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So, what can you do in this time of increased stress?
Escape the news
This isn’t an easy thing to do at the moment! Whilst it is important to know what is going on and be aware of the restrictions and rules that are in place it is easy to be overwhelmed by the news. This isn’t helped by the fact that there is a wealth of information, at our fingertips, at all times on our phones.
The best way to create a space away from this information overload is to turn notifications off on your phone. You don’t have to know every item of breaking news right away, especially if you feel your anxiety rise every time you hear that ping. Set aside some time each day to find out the latest updates.
Look to reliable sources for information
Misinformation about COVID 19 is rife. There are numerous posts and videos about conspiracy theories. Try to only get your information from reliable sources, not social media posts or You Tube videos. The Government, WHO and the NHS all have data for you to look at. Turn to trusted news sources and mute any friends that are spreading information that you find upsetting.
Don’t suffer alone. If you are felling anxious or worried it can be good to share your thoughts with others. They may be able to give you a different point of view and help ease any worries you have. It is easy to get overwhelmed by our own thoughts, especially when we are physically isolated from others. Negative thought patterns can quickly develop. Talking to someone you trust can help break those cycles and help you find a way forward.
Make time for the things you enjoy
Our lives may be restricted right now and trips to the pub and socialising are not possible but enjoyable distractions can help. Make the most of your daily outing by going for a walk or finally get round to reading that book. Get lost in a new box set that can help you escape your worries for a few hours.
Look after yourself
Even if you are feeling stressed and anxious try to eat a balanced diet. Cooking itself can be a distraction and there are lots of websites with easy recipes to follow if you are not much of a chef! Try to maintain a good sleep pattern, with no screens before bed.
How we are trying to help our employees
We have been sharing this advice with our staff and have always encouraged positive communication between us all. We know how important it is to remember to say “thank you” and offer compliments on a job well done. We know this helps reduce any performance anxiety someone feels in these uncertain times.
Making travel easier
To make our employees feel safer we have allowed employees to commute outside of rush hour and allow flexible hours to accommodate this. Staff can also have time off to attend appointments and treatment as required. If employees are affected by certain medications, we are changing their working hours to make this easier to cope with.
Providing support at work
If a staff member is feeling overwhelmed, we have made changes to their working area. This could be somewhere quieter or providing more support around them during the day. We have also made a quiet room available to staff to take short breaks if they need to. Depending on an individual’s needs we have reallocated tasks at certain times if that can help. This may mean giving staff a break from answering phones for example. If a staff member would benefit from working in a more familiar environment, we have introduced the option to work from home sometimes.
Talk to your GP
If you feel yourself trying to cope with extended period of stress and anxiety contact your GP. Although services are running differently at the moment many surgeries are running a telephone consultation service.
There are a number of organisations focused on mental health. These include
Better times to come
Although it is hard sometimes, we all need to remember that this will end eventually. Until then we need to support each other as best we can.