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16th June, 2020

Post Lockdown Mental Health in the Workplace by Harry Galley

Two and a half months of being furloughed, and what did I do with all of that time? I made a plan that I’d exercise every day, start writing, and focus on self-development. Two and a half months later and I achieved none of it. None.

Who else has sat there and thought, I’m going to come out of this a better version of myself but fell into bad habits, broke routines, and just generally didn’t do what they said? I know I’m not the only one who was staying up until all hours of the morning knowing they didn’t need to be up early the next day. I’ve seen more sunrises than hot dinners since March.

I’ve reflected on how my friends and I have dealt with the lockdown, and I think the only way to describe it would be ‘differently’. I for one struggled with a sleeping pattern, had 30 hour days, sometimes sleeping for a few hours over a couple of days; some of my friends were drinking every day when they wouldn’t normally do that. Fair play to those of you who had healthy coping mechanisms and were productive, because from those I’ve spoken to it hasn’t been easy being away from work, but we’ve all found our own ways of getting through it.

Now businesses are re-opening though and these bad habits are going to be a big problem for some people. It’s like trying to flip a switch and get on with normality – if we can call it that. Not everyone will be able to it from day one, so I wanted to talk about how we can help each other, and help ourselves.

Symptoms to look out for in colleagues relating to stress, anxiety, and depression:

·        Poor concentration

·        Finding it hard to make decisions

·        Low mood

·        Tiredness and lack of energy

·        Sleeping more or less

·        Talking less and avoiding conversation

·        Talking more or talking very fast, jumping between topics and ideas

·        Finding it difficult to control your emotions

·        Irritability and short temper

·        Aggression

Here are ways to help:

Communicate

It isn’t always easy to talk about how you’re genuinely feeling, especially in certain environments it can be seen as a weakness but ultimately if you’re struggling then people need to know, otherwise they won’t be able to help. If you’re not in a position to talk to your manager/colleagues, then talk to your family and friends. Finding people you trust who will listen can help vent some of your feelings, and you might think of ways to deal with whatever problems you might be facing.

Equally, make sure those around you are okay. Be there for people. If you know they are struggling try to be their rock while people come to terms with everything again. Genuinely listen to people and talk to them about how they feel.

Plan

For me, getting back into a routine has helped and I’ve quickly got used to everything again. For others it might not be so easy. I’ve planned my days out so I can see where I can improve day on day and see my progress over this first week back. Setting time aside for certain aspects of my job, and making a plan of what I can do at home to be as productive with that time as well. Writing everything down has helped me reinforce exactly how much progress I’ve made – focussing on the positive rather than negative. Sticking to my plans and seeing them through consistently with the hindsight that I didn’t achieve much over lockdown has been really gratifying.

Stop Being Hard On Yourself

Stop comparing yourself to others. No one is going to deal with any situation the same way, or feel the way you do. Stop focusing on what you haven’t done, focus on what you have done and what you can do. Use any negatives as motivation to do better and try be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.

Encouragement

Encourage the people around you. Create that positive environment. If you notice people doing things well once you’ve returned tell them. If you know they’ve been working on something, be it a project, a role with a client, or a difficult customer then acknowledge their effort. It might not seem like a big deal to some people but to others it will go a long way in building their confidence and self-esteem.

Video Links Covering Topics Discussed

Kevin Hart is renowned for his work ethic and positivity. Listen to his talk with Joe Rogan about: ‘the game’ of life, learning from other people, doing the things that you love and hate, beating yourself, and the importance of health and wellness. They cover a lot of interesting and motivating topics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzx6h2sAGTU

 

UK Mental Health – how to support a colleague:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_V2rVofA54

I’m not a mental health professional, but from my experiences all of these things have helped me on a personal level and I feel like they are very applicable to those coming back to work who might be feeling anxieties or stress around getting back into professional life. 

 

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