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27th January 2021

Looking After Our Mental Health

The New Year brings hope. Indeed welcoming 2021 felt like a breath of fresh air. Everyone across the world hopes that this will be the year when some long-awaited normality comes back into our lives. However, despite the optimism, we should not underestimate the impact that Covid-19 is still having on our mental health. While some of us are working from home; others are on the front line, dealing face-to-face with the pressures of the pandemic. Regardless of the varied challenges, we must prioritise looking after our mental health and that of others.

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Kindness Matters

This is where kindness, the act of being generous and considerate, comes in. A survey by the Mental Health Foundation showed that 63% of the participants who were either the recipients of a kind act or themselves were kind to someone else, saw a positive effect on their mental health. It is undeniable that kindness has many benefits, both physical and psychological. Therefore, in this article, we want to focus on the ways you can incorporate it into your work life.

Looking After Your Colleagues

Be mindful that not everyone who is struggling mentally or emotionally shows obvious signs of a mental health problem. That is why communication is essential. However, some things to look out for in your colleague’s behaviour include:

  • Changes to their usual behaviour and mood
  • Appearing anxious, tired or withdrawn
  • Having problems focusing or having little motivation when performing tasks
  • Changes to their standard of work

Although such signs can easily be spotted when working in the office, some may go unnoticed when working from home. Therefore, you can:

  • Have regular video team meetings to check how everyone is feeling. Remember that some people avoid sharing personal information when in a large group so having a private conversation might be more appropriate.
  • If individuals decide to approach you themselves, you should thank them for opening up and give them as much of your time as needed.
  • In any case, you should listen carefully and provide reassurance that you will support them to the best of your ability.
  • You can also refer individuals to the organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) or speak to a line manager or Mental Health First Aider (if there is one).

We also suggest looking at the Wellness Action Plans designed to support staff with their mental health and wellbeing. Here is a good one created by Mind.

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Be Kind to Yourself

Along with caring for others, you should also take care of yourself. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious because of what is going on in your life; these are normal human emotions. Why judge yourself for feeling a certain way or seeking help and support from others? Be kind, notice how you feel, and take action to improve your mental health when necessary.

A few things that can help are:

  • Keeping active and exercising at least 3 times a week. Physical activity boosts the mood and improves mental health. Additionally, the endorphins will make you feel more energised and happier, ready to face the day. The effect is increased by being outside in nature and sunlight.
  • Keeping in touch with our colleagues and talking to them about how you feel. Being part of a social group provides psychological resources that buffer the effects of stress. Having regular communications is especially important if you are working remotely and experiencing feelings of isolation. A good idea might be to have virtual coffee breaks with colleagues to give you a chance to talk about things outside of work.
  • Creating a daily routine and sticking to it. Make sure you get enough sleep and wake up at the same time every day to stabilise your internal body clock. Plan in advance what you will have to do that day, so you feel prepared for the tasks and possible challenges at work.
  • Reflecting on what makes you feel happy at work and finding more time to do it. Use your journal or a notebook to write your reflections. Sometimes we are so used to working on autopilot that we do not notice the small things that make our day joyful.
  • Find out how to contact your organisation’s EAP (if your organisation offers this service). EAPs are independent benefit services which offer advice and support to employees. They usually provide free telephone counselling, short-term face-to-face counselling and advice regarding finances, relationships, bereavement, etc. Ask your manager or HR for more details.

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How Impact Can Support You

As Business Psychologists we are here to support you in whatever way that we can when it comes to wellbeing, supporting your staff and managing your feelings of anxiety. Our qualified coaches and counsellors have experience of employee wellbeing support, leadership development to support a healthy work environment, and 1-1 supportive conversations. Our Assistant Business Psychologist, Maria, is a trained Mental Health First Aider, who helps spot signs of mental ill health and can provide early support. *

We offer individual coaching as well as team workshops, aimed at building resilience and creating strategies to cope with stress and the new way of working. All of those are personalised and aimed at providing effective solutions to you, your colleagues and your business. To find out more about what we offer and how we can support you, please get in touch with us here.

You can also find useful resources on our social media and bulletin on how to cope with the varied challenges each of us might be facing. We have posted useful articles on our blog offering advice on effective working from home, increasing motivation, managing stress, etc. To find out more and read some of our previous articles, please click here.

*Please note that if necessary, you should contact your GP and seek further support, especially if you have a history of mental health problems.