How to look after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak

Without question, the coronavirus outbreak is having an impact on all of our daily lives, and as we all adjust to the new normal of social distancing, home schooling and the dining tables becoming boardrooms; all this change can have a significant impact upon our mental health.

At the moment, it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there are many things that we can do to positively support our wellbeing during these uncertain times. The things that we already know that are good for managing our mental health such as venturing outside and staying connected to friends and family, have suddenly become more difficult to do, so it’s important we seek new ways to manage our mental health.

As you are already aware, I am a huge advocate for promoting positive mental health within organisations, it may sound cliché, but your people are your greatest asset. Whether they are still working or furloughed, looking out for their mental health and demonstrating a duty of care is critical for employers and can really help your employees feel valued.

Tips for managing your mental health

  • Connect with others – maintaining relationships with friends and family is important, so set some time aside and call them or keep in touch via social media
  • Help and support others – think about how you could help those around you – I have been asking my elderly neighbours if they need anything, it really makes a difference to them and is rewarding for you too as it makes us feel good to help others
  • Reach out and talk about how you are feeling – this is a challenging time for everyone, by sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with others can help them too
  • Daily exercise – at times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy habits such as bad diet and negative patterns of behaviour which only makes you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise inside where possible and outside once a day. There are some brilliant classes available on You Tube, one of my favourites is Lucy Wyndham-Read who has some super quick HIIT exercises and longer workouts too for days when you feel like pushing yourself!
  • Get regular sleep – we all agree that a good sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough sleep each night, and devlop a regular sleep routine
  • Turn off the TV! – the constant news updates are necessary however they can increase our anxiety and cause further worry. Therefore try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak
  • Seek the silver lining – make a list of useful activities, for me it is cleaning, reading and exercise. Make sure your list is filled with things you enjoy such as boxset you missed out on, or learning a new recipe, by having some structure, this helps to create some regular activities to fill your day
  • Set some goals – setting goals and achieving them gives you a sense of satisfaction and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can do whilst you are at home

I’m an employer, what can I do to support my employees?

Every employer has a duty of care to its employees, as part of this, they must do all they reasonably can to support their employees health, safety and wellbeing.

Here are some ways that you can instil a good practice approach:

  • Communicate regularly with your employees; simply ask them how they are, actively listen and address any concerns they may have
  • Actively encourage employees to develop self-care routines, such as a healthy diet, sleep and relaxation
  • Promote existing resources for support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes

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