Wellbeing Awareness

29 Apr 2020

Hayley Boyd, Office and HR Manager, discusses the increased need for mental health awareness and what the BPF team are doing to keep happy and well during these challenging times.

Whether you are juggling childcare and work or feeling isolated because you cannot see your family, the impact of Covid-19 lockdown is felt by us all in some way. Maybe you are feeling anxious, tired, irritated or low. You may be concerned about your health or someone close to you. It is ok to not be ok, but we must seek support if we need it. It cannot be emphasised enough that now, more than ever, it is vital that we take care of our mind as well as our body.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, mental ill health was the number one cause of long-term sickness among UK workers as reported in the CIPD annual survey 2020, and the World Health organisation say that a pandemic increases the risk of mental ill health and brings an increased risk of suicide both during and after.

A growing concern among employers is the “always on culture”. We have all had to adapt to working from home very quickly. Whilst we all seem to have become video conference wizards, it’s important we do not let technology stop us from disconnecting from work during non-working hours and breaks. Smart phones and laptops make it just as easy to access your work emails outside of work as it does inside work and hence, we end feeling like we’re always on call. Over time, this builds pressure and can have a negative effect on our mental wellbeing. This stress and anxiety is the leading cause of staff being signed off in the workplace.

How can we tackle the “always on culture”?

  • Create a life/work routine planner to map out what an ideal week could look like. Include time for your body, mind, work and family.
  • Take a five minute break every hour from your laptop and mobile phone to get a break from the screen. Use this time to make a cup of tea, stretch, run up and down the stairs.
  • Make sure you take a lunch break.
  • Take annual leave. Whilst it isn’t the same as going on a city break somewhere or a festival, it is just as important as before to take annual leave during this to get a proper break to recharge.
  • Lead by example – there is a false mindset that employees who do not respond to emails out of hours, that they show less commitment than their colleagues who respond immediately. If you are working different hours than normal consider delaying the arrival of your email on outlook or ensure that your team are clear that reading and responding to emails is not a requirement out of hours. You can also consider turning off those email notifications.

The BPF staff shared their tips to improve and maintain their wellbeing:

Look after your body

  • Keep active If you are able to get outside go for a neighbourhood walk, run or cycle. Many staff suggested virtual yoga, meditation and stretching classes.
  • Eating well and cooking interesting meals. Finding your favourite restaurant recipes and creating them at home.
  • Vary your sit/ standing position during working hours.
  • Try not to overschedule.

Connect

  • Keep social via video and call, virtual pub, work socials, online board games with friends.
  • Do thing you enjoy, set goals and keep your mind active.
  • Find new interest or start up old interests, musical instruments, sewing, gardening.
  • Help others that are in need with the shopping or cook them a nice meal.

Manage difficult feelings

  • Write gratitude lists, write down what is on your mind.
  • Look to the future and remember that everything is a phase.
  • Try to manage your media intake to just 15 minutes a day.

Even simply sharing these tips between us all has helped to remind us that we’re all in the same boat. It’s tough, but there are things we can do to try and mitigate the impact. Our return to work as we used to know it may seem a long way away, but it is to be hoped that there are lessons we can learn from this time that will change both our personal and professional lives for the better.

You can speak to the following organisations for help and advice:

The Samaritans – 116 123 (available 24hrs a day)

Mind – 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (available Monday-Friday 9.00-6.00)

NHS – 111 (available 24hrs a day)

Hayley Boyd, Office and HR Manager