There are so few familiar reference points on our current landscape, with every single aspect of our lives changing rapidly. With so much uncertainty it is no surprise our nations’ mental health is suffering. In fact, people in lockdown are more worried about their mental wellbeing than their general health, an Office for National Statistics survey suggests.
In the first month of lockdown there were 135,000 UK searches for the word ‘anxiety’. And according to a recent study by the University of Sheffield and Ulster University, the day after the UK lockdown was announced 38% of Brits said they were suffering from depression and 36% claimed to be struggling with anxiety.
“Underlying, most anxiety is a loss of control leading to a sense of entrapment and panic”, says Amy McDonald, CEO of Headtorch, a company that delivers mental health and wellbeing learning & development to workplaces.
Amy continues: “As all aspects of our way of living is strictly curtailed, none of us are able to choose as before so it is beneficial, to focus on the elements we can control, to bring back a sense of balance.
“Choose to double the number of walks with your dog, start to learn a new language, clear out that cluttered garage, reclaiming small elements of control will help. A big part of this is self-care. We all need to look after ourselves. So prioritise sleep, exercise and a healthy diet. When we look after our own health, we are better prepared to deal with such uncertain times.”
Headtorch works with organisations including PepsiCo, Volvo, Baillie Gifford and Abellio. Amy explains why during this time of great anxiety, it is more important than ever, that we keep ourselves and those we work with mentally fit.
“Our mindset will go a long way to helping us and others through these unusual times. These three C’s are a helpful guide; control, communication and compassion, are values we can all cultivate for ourselves and others.
“Communication is key and leaders need to be regularly talking to their people with one-to-one discussions, most vital. As well as group catch ups where teams should be able to chat about the challenges the current situation brings, the one-to-one slots provide an opportunity for senior staff to really assess how employees are faring and whether additional support is needed. Check in with people individually and encourage everyone to talk.”
Finally, Amy encourages, be compassionate, be kind to yourself and others.
“We have all gone through enormous change over the last few weeks. “Whatever your situation, no one’s life is the same. Everyone will be juggling home life, work, child-care, home schooling, looking after loved ones and the vulnerable. Managers especially, need to be flexible, show empathy and hone the human touch.”