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Mental Health and Well-Being During COVID-19 With West Kent Mind
Marketing Manager Franki at Rap Interiors had a chat with West Kent Mind’s Business Development Officer Lorna, to discuss the challenges we are facing as a result of COVID-19.
They talked about stresses you might be feeling, ways to manage those stresses and also where you can find help if you need some support during this time. They also touched on how businesses can support their employees who might be used to working in an office environment and are now juggling home/family/work-life all under one roof.
Self-Care & Routine
The first thing to say that is when we talk about mental health people assume we are talking about mental ill-health and we’re not. Everyone has mental health and it’s on a continuum and you can move around that continuum on a daily basis.
How can people practise self-care at home?
Take time each day to do something that gives you enjoyment and pleasure.
Don’t be too hard on yourself – this is not a time to strive for perfection or set yourself unrealistic goals.
Take a bit of pressure off of yourself and look after yourself without feeling guilty about it.
Build a new routine that works for you because structure and routine are actually really important.
How can we implement some structure into our days without putting too much pressure on ourselves to do everything?
Set your alarm for the same time every day.
Get up at the same time as you would if you were going to work
Don’t set yourself mammoth challenges or tasks.
Build structure in your day
It is about finding what works for your situation that provides a bit of stability and balance. We might find that we are doing things that we may be usually wouldn’t allow or usually wouldn’t do but these are exceptional times and we can readjust when this is over.
How can parents communicate with each other to have some time for themselves?
Respect our own need for space and self-care, while also recognising the needs of others around us.
Be a bit easier on each other.
Taking the time out and allowing that for other people too
Focusing on ourselves should be viewed as essential and shouldn’t feel self-indulgent
Meditate or practise mindfulness
Sit in the quiet with a cup of tea or go for a walk
Parents, that feel like they have now been given the role of a teacher while still having to do their job as well, how can they juggle all of these different roles under one roof?
When you say we have been given a role as a teacher, actually we haven’t. We haven’t chosen to home-school our children. This is an emergency situation and we just need to keep our children happy, healthy and engaged.
Every child is different and so will react to this situation differently; some will be super keen and will sit and do all of the work while others won’t even pick up a pencil.
This is not a time for having a family feud and that is the last thing your school would want.
We aren’t home-schooling our children, we are supporting them through a time which is actually really unsettling for them as well.
Do what you can, when you can, without putting too much pressure on yourself or your children.
If it takes a little bit of bribery or learning on technology, then so be it. Just whatever it takes to get us through this.
What can we do with our children to keep them at ease and entertained while still learning?
the age of your children will have a bearing on what you do with them.
Keep them focused on the core subjects and any other areas that your children respond to well.
Find a balance that works for you and your family.
Try not to make an area of contention.
Ensure there is a focused time each day
They can be learning in different ways too: planting things in the garden or learning to cook.
Exercise is great, especially in the fresh air because isolation is not just social isolation but it is isolating us from nature as well which plays a big part in our mental well-being.We all know how it feels to force ourselves to do a workout we really don’t want to do but then actually feel pretty good afterwards and it’s also a sense of achievement too.
Is there a good amount or type of exercise for people to do?
It doesn’t really matter.
Do something for 30 minutes a day to get the blood pumping around the body.
If you are able to combine this exercise with fresh air then even better.
If you can’t get outside, just do something that gets you moving.
Have a dance around your living room
Do some spring cleaning
Pop on an exercise DVD.
What would you say to those who are cautious about going outside for a walk?
Don’t look down, look up and see the people around you and take notice of the world.
Smile andsay hi. That is social connection and it can really lift your mood.
Those who are living at home, with little social contact, what would you advise them as they are alone and probably feeling that self-isolation a bit more?
Technology: try to make a face-to-face connection as much as possible or at least to hear someone’s voice. Texts and emails are great but they aren’t quite the same so pick up your phone to hear someone’s voice or have a video call.
Go for walks and make sure you take notice of the people around you.
Maybe for those who are older and in isolation, just watching your favourite daytime TV show is a sense of social connection too.
Learn something. Keep your minds active. Even if it’s just reading a book, watching a documentary on a subject you have always been interested in, or e-learning.
You can focus on that this a point in time where we need to adjust and that this is only temporary.
It is so important that we ask how each other are. Don’t sugar-coat how you are feeling because we are all struggling, so have an open and honest dialogue and get the support where you need it.
How can people spark up conversations with people that don’t suffer from mental ill-health and so might not 100% understand their anxieties?
We all have mental health and have experienced physical manifestations of worry or nerves, so we can all relate and we are all becoming a lot better at talking and listening.
You know within your network the people that will understand and so choose who you talk to.
We all need to show empathy.It is not about saying “oh well when that happened to me and I did this…”, it is about putting yourself in that person’s shoes and really empathising with what it feels like for them because you don’t know.
Even though you may be going through exactly the same situation, everyone experiences everything differently.
A lot of the time just getting it off your chest makes you feel a whole lot better.
Any sort of culture change that we see in workplaces around mental health awareness, has to be led from the top to show that they can be open and honest about how they are finding it difficult because nobody is immune. When you see people at the top share with their employees that they are struggling too, it opens up the conversation around it and it makes it ok.
Does it make the person at the top look weak?
It’s a sign of strength that you can stand up and say “I’m the boss, but do you know what? I’m not ok with this and these are the kind of things that I’m doing and let me know what you are doing that might help me”
Conversation and Support
Opening up those channels of communication and have face-to-face contact as much as possible because it’s important to hear someone’s voice. There needs to be a level of trust and flexibility because it can increase your anxiety levels if you think you have to do all of your work in a set amount of time but actually, in your household, it is just not feasible.
31% of managers feel confident enough to spark up a conversation with their employees about sensitive conversations around mental health. Where is the conversation with the other 69% of managers?
People are scared of the answer. If you ask someone how they are and they tell you honestly what is going on for them, what do you do with that? That’s where people struggle.
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