How can we take care of ourselves and each other during times of uncertainty?

As we come out of our second phase of lockdown and start to reassess things, it’s useful to look at the research on what we know about COVID-19 and its impact on mental health so far, and use those findings to improve health outcomes.

This is what the research tells us.

1. Some people are really struggling

During stressful periods and times of uncertainty, we do see increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Chronic stress can lead to the development of depression and anxiety as the body tries to adjust to an increase in the stress hormones that flood our body.

Here’s what you can do to help

Prioritise activities to boost your wellbeing and manage stress.

Exercise, good sleep, and healthy eating can help alleviate stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as can spending time with the people you love and care about. Even if you can’t be together in person, prioritise connection through phone, chat, or video calling.

Talk to your doctor or EAP.

The sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll be able to treat and put in place strategies to improve your mental health and prevent it from declining further.

2. There are a lot of lonely people out there

Loneliness can exacerbate feelings of stress and lead to poor mental health. A U.S. study found that one in three people are experiencing loneliness right now, while people under the age of 30 and people with a chronic illness are also at greater risk.

Here’s what you can do to help

Go out of your way to connect.

It’s easy to feel disconnected when physical distancing measures are in place, but physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Going out of your way to
connect could have a big impact on the wellbeing of yourself and others and create a ripple effect of connection.

Don’t rely on social media alone to stay connected.

Social media is great for staying connected. However, there are downsides to its use, particularly if it means a constant stream of COVID-19 news which can end up doing more harm than good. Instead, try picking up the phone and calling your loved ones. If social media is your only option, make sure you’re getting your information from reputable news sites and limit your usage.

3. We might all be in the same storm, but we are in different boats

While it’s true that we are all experiencing the impacts of COVID-19, it’s important to recognise there are vulnerable people in our population that will be finding it more difficult than others. Those vulnerable to domestic violence situations, disadvantaged by race or poverty, with care-giving duties without reprieve, and people in unstable work conditions, will undoubtedly be having a hard time.

Here’s what you can do to help

Look for ways to give back.

Look for ways you can do something to help others, particularly those in vulnerable groups. Check on your neighbours, connect with people in your network, and look for opportunities in your community to help out.

Appreciate that others might be struggling.

Be mindful of others and be caring, kind, and compassionate wherever you can.

4. We all need a little help now and then

These are uncertain times, but what we know is that humans are hard-wired to cope. It helps when we prioritise our wellbeing and manage stress when we connect and feel purposeful and in control of our circumstances by focusing on what we can do instead of what we can’t.

But being resilient doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. In fact, being resilient means asking for help when you know you need it. If you are struggling with the effects of lockdown, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you have concerns about work or are feeling overwhelmed, speak with your manager, someone you trust or call us on the free 24/7 number  0800 284 678 to connect with a counsellor. 

We are here to help

If you would like some help knowing what you can do to care for your staff and their wellbeing during this time, let us know.