how to support yourself and your colleagues post lockdown
by Olivia Kennaway, Paws in Work blogger.
rainbows or rain, we all got drenched.
Since March, we’ve all been caught in the same storm (and have all probably heard varying metaphors describing said storm - COVID-19).
However, it has been, and continues to be, an incredibly different storm experience for everyone, even those within the same households. Some of us are exiting the storm, soaked through and shivering, but are just about holding on to some debris to keep us afloat.
Some of us are still battling through the storm with no comprehension of how much longer the storm will last or how much more we can take.
Some of us have danced through the storm, finding rainbows every step of the way and ending up on a sunny hill away from the rain; as those unfortunate enough not to have come across their dry and easy path still struggle to find the sunshine.
One thing we can all agree on is that this has been a life changing event for everyone, be it positive or negative.
returning to your workplace.
As lockdown starts to ease a little, you may be desperate to get back to your workplace, but... Please remember that some of your colleagues (or family) may not be feeling the same sense of excitement or relief that you are. They may even be experiencing crippling anxiety or fear at the thought of returning, although they may not want to admit it.
In the Government's latest report, over half (61%) of working adults in the UK said the coronavirus pandemic was having an impact on their work with a top reason being “finding working from home difficult” whilst almost half of adults (47%) said their well-being was affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the past seven days. Almost two-thirds of adults (64%) said they were very, or somewhat, worried about the effect that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on their life now (Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain: 26 June 2020).
be kind and look after each other.
Whilst it is too early to say what the lasting impact of this world pandemic will mean for mental wellbeing in the UK, a comprehensive 2014 study on Mental Health Consequences of Disasters suggests there will be psychological consequences to the pandemic and that the unequal impacts of COVID-19 could lead to an influx of pre-existing health inequalities. It could also affect those who have never previously experienced poor mental health.
The Health Foundation states that “Failing to value and invest in mental health during the pandemic risks storing up significant mental and physical health problems for the future – at great human and economic cost”.
Colleagues can become family (they certainly have here at paws in work!), and just as home families have their complexities and different personality types, so do working families. So what can we do to help each other?
how can we help without pups (for now)?
1. Take time to find out what storm your colleagues have experienced
2. Be mindful of social distancing, especially if your colleagues are apprehensive about being in the workplace, and respect everyone's personal stance or reaction to the new normal.
3. Acknowledge your unconscious judgement (we all have one, it is human nature!) - just because you feel comfortable getting public transport now does not mean everyone else does, even if the Government say it is ok to do so.
4. Be kind to yourself and colleagues. Expect ups and downs in your emotions and outlook as well your motivation levels and anxiety.
5. Find out what your company COVID-19 rules are make sure you stick to them and Mental Health at Work have suggested checking these four points before returning to the office:
- How will you get to work?
- Will anything be different as you enter the building?
- Who will be there?
- Will you need to do things differently to get your job done?
we all need office puppy time!
Above all else, communication is key and accepting that there will be ups and downs; and that no one, not even your boss, knows quite what is best right now.
Be honest, be kind and the rest will soon fall into place. And remember, soon you can have puppies at work again. Paws and people will return!
- If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to or a helping paw remember to check out our Paws in Work mental health support pages.
- Headspace is also offering a free annual membership to those that have been furloughed or made unemployed during the pandemic (whilst stocks last).
- And here’s a nice video from Time to Change on how we can respect our friends' decisions and language to use during these times.
what is a mental health first aider?
We have experienced a major shift in everyday life as a result of the pandemic; returning to some sort of normality may take quite some time to adjust to. Now more than ever, we need sufficient facilities available, allowing people to have access to the support they need for their mental health whilst at work.