Let’s cut straight to the point here: the current Coronavirus outbreak (or Covid-19 to give its’ official title) is causing everyone a great deal of concern.
As newsfeeds fill with ever-increasingly grim stats and figures of infections and effects on the world’s population, there is now a palpable sense of unease and helplessness – and it’s easy to understand why.
This is the first time many of us will have experienced a global event on such a scale and every aspect of our normal day-to-day lives that we’ve taken for granted are now being disrupted. From going to sporting events to even just doing the weekly shop, it’s fair to say we’re all coming face-to-face with a life-altering event.
The world of work is also taking a heavy hit from the spread of Coronavirus. Financial markets are in a severe state of flux and businesses in the travel sector are bracing themselves for a steep decline in business, with European and US travel bans leading to some airlines taking drastic action to ensure their very survival.
The Government’s advice for the population to socially distance themselves will also, most likely, have a hugely negative impact on small businesses – bars, restaurants, cinemas, local retailers… For everyone and every business out there, the next few weeks and months are going to be really tough.
KEEP CLEAN, CARRY ON?
At the time of writing, the British Government has decided against more sweeping measures that have been adopted in European countries such as Spain and Italy. This is mainly because they are aiming to try and delay the virus’s spread and keep the flow of infections at a steady pace – giving our health services time to ensure they have both the resources and personnel to deal with the added pressures (You can watch a brilliantly-explained video on the subject via this link).
However, the response has led to a lot of uncertainty and a measure of anxiety with the British public.
The current response of asking people to socially distance themselves from others (as well as following essential hygiene advice) is going to have a drastic effect on everyone’s lives for the foreseeable future. Simple pastimes that we’ve all taken for granted are now potentially off limits; so, no more visits to your local pub, seeing groups of friends or even days out with the family to the cinema.
We’re all being asked to sacrifice a measure of normality to reduce the threat of the virus and the effects on the most vulnerable in our society. But whilst these measures are being put in place to ensure our physical wellbeing, it’s now – more than ever – that we also need to remember to look after our mental wellbeing, too.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING
Social distancing is a drastic but necessary action at the moment. However, whilst it is designed to protect our physical health, it can have a detrimental effect on our mental wellbeing.
If enforced for a prolonged period, and without positive steps to mitigate the effects on your mental health, it can lead to a variety of health problems – including depression and even heart disease.
This is something we all need to be proactive in avoiding. Whilst our ‘normal’ lives are essentially being put on hold for the moment, there are a number of simple things you can do to ensure your mental wellbeing is kept in good shape and help keep your spirits lifted.
BE SELECTIVE ABOUT WHAT YOU READ AND HEAR
Constantly reading, seeing or listening to negative or ill-informed stories can be hugely detrimental to mental wellbeing as it can simply exasperate that feeling of helplessness and panic. The Coronavirus situation is also constantly evolving and as such, will continue to have blanket media coverage for some time to come – and unfortunately, not all of it will be particularly positive.
Whilst we’re not saying to completely ignore the news and media, try not to let it be the dominating force in what you read, watch and listen to every day. Also, always be wary of what you see on social media! Just because someone you know has tweeted a ‘fact’ or an ‘influencer’ has published a story doesn’t make either true – always aim to check sources before believing the hype.
And remember, the world is a big, big place. There’s plenty of more positive news out there which also deserves your attention.
TACKLE THOSE LONG-FORGOTTEN DIY PROJECTS!
Yup, being asked to stay at home for a prolonged period of time is the perfect opportunity to finish those long-forgotten DIY jobs!
Be it re-decorating your abandoned spare room, to clearing out your guttering or re-arranging your lounge – having a little home project to both keep you occupied and improve your living space is a great way to not only keep you busy, but also focus your mind on more useful things and support that all-important positive mental wellbeing.
Not good at DIY? No problem! There’s plenty of online tutorials and videos you can seek out to help you get to grips with the basics. Simply head over to YouTube and search for what you’re trying to do – we’d guarantee you’ll find what you need. Being stuck at home can be the ideal time to learn a new skill or craft – so think of it as both a necessity and an opportunity.
Need some inspiration? Then check out this link!
KEEP IN TOUCH
Social distancing or having to physically isolate yourself doesn’t mean you still can’t talk to your friends, family or colleagues – you just have to be a little more creative about how you do it!
Staying in touch with those closest to you has never been easier. With a wealth of mobile and desktop apps and platforms to choose from (as well as the good old-fashioned phone itself!), you can still have those all-important social interactions everyone needs to support positive mental wellbeing.
If you feel you need more professional help, many forward-thinking employers now offer Employee Assistance Programmes (or EAP for short) which give their employees access to professional mental health support; including 24-hour, 365-day counselling services either face-to-face or via phone and email. If this is something your employers don’t offer, your GP will be the best placed to help you.
Remember: if you’re finding things difficult or struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk.
GET OUT AND KEEP ACTIVE!
The Government is currently advising everyone to stay away from busy or crowded places like pubs, restaurants, theatres and indoor shopping centres. It’s also the case that gyms and fitness centres may offer a higher-risk of infection due to sweaty bodies and dirty weights, so it may become increasingly difficult for us all to stay fit and active over the following weeks and months.
If you’re finding yourself climbing the walls at home during the next few weeks, or even just want to keep up with a regular fitness routine, make an effort to get outside into the open – even if it’s just your garden!
Going out for a gentle walk, jog or even a cycle ride in the great outdoors are great ways to keep your physical health in check. Plus, being outdoors is great for supporting a healthy mind, too!
If you have a decent garden space, try these simple light exercises via this link. If not, follow this link to find some great exercises you can try in your home.
Social distancing will mean that we’re all not making as many journeys on foot or perhaps on bike anymore; so, keeping physically healthy is just as important as staying mentally healthy – after all, one supports the other!
*EDIT* Since this blog was published, the UK Government has brought in controls on movement to help control the spread of COVID-19. Whilst you can still go out for exercise, it can only be once a day and in groups of 2 or less people, keeping at least 2 meters apart at all time.
GO FOR A DRIVE
Yup, whilst the regular morning commute is not everyone’s idea of a good time, with roads forecast to be a lot quieter than usual, heading out for a drive is one way you can help keep your mental wellbeing in good shape.
Heading out for a drive when you’re feeling low is a great way to focus your mind and also give you a chance to be with your own thoughts (especially good if perhaps you live in a crowded or busy household!). Plus, you can enjoy the experience as long as the road or your fuel (or charge) takes you!
*EDIT* Since this blog was written and published, the UK Government introduced further restrictions on travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19. With this in mind, and with the Government's advice in mind, please restrict your travel to absolutely essential journeys only. Cars and roads will still be around once they're eventually lifted!
GET LOST IN A BOOK
Yes, yes… We now have an absolute plethora of streaming services to choose from these days, with more box sets and movies than you could binge on in an entire lifetime! But with a potential lack of social distractions, the next few weeks could be the perfect time to catch up on a good book! Not only will it keep you entertained, it’ll keep your brain occupied and focused – win win!
HOW will your employees handle social distancing?
In light of the Covid-19 crisis, it's very important to keep close tabs on the wellbeing of your people - now more than ever!
As we briefly mentioned earlier, many forward-thinking employers are now offering Employee Assistance Programmes which give their employees access to professional mental health support; including 24-hour, 365-day counselling services - either face-to-face, online, or via phone and email.
Click here to learn more and see how easily you can support your employees during the pandemic and their own personal problems.