For the past 10 days I have worked almost exclusively on Coronavirus emergency plans, conversations about how to work from home and strategies to make sure that people are OK. Whilst some of this is simply process and systems; for instance do we have enough computers for people to WFH? what tech shall we use to talk to each other? the mental wellbeing of our people is less black and white. I like some of the advice from Kirstie Brewer, BBC News, in How to protect your mental health she writes;
'Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many people it can make existing mental health problems worse. When the World Health Organization released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was welcomed on social media.
As Anxiety UK's Nicky Lidbetter explains, the fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. So it's understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment.
"A lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen - coronavirus is that on a macro scale," agrees Rosie Weatherley, spokesperson for mental health charity Mind.
So how can we protect our mental health and wellbeing? I think these 3 points from Kirstie are particularly helpful. 1. Limit your news intake, 2. Stay connected with people, 3. Avoid burnout. Interestingly before we even imagined the impact of the Coronavirus many of the leaders I talked to in my book, LET'S RESET, with photos by Rankin provided great advice as to how to cope with these type of challenges.
1. Limit the news and be careful what you read
Zahra Hulf a psychology Graduate from Exeter University turned off all her social media for a while;
'What made it worse was seeing everyone else having such an incredible time. The pictures that I'd scroll through everyday on Instagram or Facebook would highlight to me just how much of an amazing time everyone else was having .... The more I pretended, the more lost I felt... It just goes to show that no matter what you see on social media or what face anyone puts on, you really have no idea what's going on inside.'
The news can make everyone panic more than necessary, it's easy to get swept up into watching and reading everything whilst also having a sense of FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out).
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren't making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
- There is a lot of misinformation swirling around - stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites
- Use this as an opportunity to turn your back on FOMO and learn to be OK with loving missing out. LOMO
Natalie Glaze Founder Stay Wild Swim (featured at the top of this article) states in LET' S RESET BOOK 'I need time away from my screen so i can have 'me-time'. I put my phone on Airplane mode and always have Sunday's off. '
2. Stay connected with people
Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about AND those work colleagues and clients that you may want and need to talk to.
"Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you," says Weatherley.
Kirstie Brewer says if you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety. It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you'd been meaning to get to.
Using this moment to reset, might help your work life balance in the future.
3. Avoid burnout
With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time. MIND UK recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible.
Steve Parish Chairman Crystal Palace Football Club tells us in his profile in LET' S RESET BOOK, ' I focus first on the basics like good sleep. The most important paRt is not to subscribe to this, 'No sleep equals success', bollocks, because most of us it just equals being tired, miserable and operating way below maximum capacity. The other basics are fitness, health and diet. I make these things as much as a priority as I can. If you get those right and feel good about yourself in general, then everything else looks surmountable'
For some there is a real sense of anxiety. AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
- Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
- Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
- Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
- Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.
These are uncertain times, but through the challenges of living and working in a different way we can begin to reset ourselves and our working environments, hopefully for our long term good.
Let's Reset accelerates business growth through creating a shift in company culture and connecting this to performance outcomes.
If you want to buy a copy of the LET'S RESET BOOK click on Amazon here.
Suki Thompson is the Founder/CEO let's reset