Prioritising your mental health during lockdown

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is kindness. We all have so much going on in our lives – including competing strains and stresses – and that is not even mentioning the C word! This can see kindness pushed to one side, in favour of what is urgent or trending now.

It can be easy to signal kindness by posting online and following a trend, but if we take the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional dividends and you could be making a huge difference to those who are vulnerable or struggling.

So, whilst Mental Health Awareness Week comes to fruition this weekend, take a few minutes, and think about doing something kind for a friend or stranger today.

Every day this week, one member of staff at UnLtd have been sharing a blog on our internal communications all with the topic of coping with lockdown and protecting your mental health in the process.As a diverse team of 70, all located in different areas across the UK, we all have different circumstances to deal with and of course varied ways of dealing with life stresses. We wanted to share some of the circumstances team members deal with and their top tips shared, so our readers can gain an insight into what works for other people and so you know, you are not alone.

 

Dealing with anxiety in lockdown

Going into lockdown with already existing anxiety struggles makes it even more important to make your mental health a priority.

  • Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself” – Doing one productive thing every day can help you be more focused and lead to a more positive attitude.
  • Sticking to your “normal” routine will stop you feeling lethargic and descending into negative thinking. It will also be easier to readjust once we can return to work
  • Be kind to yourself. If you do not feel like doing anything, that is fine too. Just be open to everyone around you and take that well-deserved break.

 

Parenting in lockdown

Nurseries and schools exist because society knows you cannot maintain a full-time job whilst looking after a child all day. The pandemic has sent us into a place where those two worlds have been blurred, and this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.

  • If you are struggling to cope, speak up. Do not be ashamed and feel like you are a bad parent or a bad employee. Something must give and do not let that be your mental health.
  • Only do what you can – taking time out in the middle of the day to do something with your kids is fine. You are not a superhuman so if you can’t go to a meeting because they are having a bad morning then be honest with yourself and make apologies, you don’t want to go into the meeting anxious and stressed it will only make it worse for you.

 

The new norm of working from home

Sure, you do not have to spend money commuting to work and your laundry basket is loving you being at home, but for some working for home is the opposite of enjoyable. Now that we have been thrown into this situation, it can be daunting for those not used to it. It also makes it harder to separate your home and work life.

  • At the end of the day (and make a point of setting a time to switch off), put your laptop away and out of sight.
  • Laugh – set aside and prioritise times to do things that make you happy
  • Chat more – just because you are not in the same room as your team, we are all in the same position so call them instead of always reverting to email.

 

Making virtual working less exhausting

At the beginning of lockdown, you may have panicked about appearing to have too much empty space in your diary, so you rushed to book in lots of video meetings.   You might also be using Zoom or similar platforms to socialise, so could be spending much of the day and evening online which eventually will make you feel overwhelmed and inhibit productivity.

  • Schedule regular breaks, especially blocking out time for lunch and other projects.
  • Incorporating energisers into your meeting or making time for ‘water-cooler’ chat will help you feel a sense of normality and connection with your colleagues despite not being in person which, unbeknown can have wonderful effects for your mental health.

 

Finally, please remember to not suffer in silence. The mental health charity Mind has some very useful advice on self-isolating and your mental health. For phone call support with grief, anxiety, or mental well-being, please call one of the numbers below:

  • Samaritians – 116 123
  • Rethink Mental Illness – 0300 5000 927
  • Young Minds - 0808 802 5544
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