The headlines now tell us that the second wave of Covid-19 is well underway. Cities, counties, and countries are slipping back into the grip of lockdown as cases swell and authorities panic. The nights are getting longer and the days are getting colder – so it’s important that we keep our mental health as a defined priority.
For many people, when lockdown initially began, a sense of bravado and unity diluted the pang of staying indoors, with zoom-based pub quizzes littering barely kept schedules. The hope that, or rather the certainty, that it would all be over by the end of the summer (eerily reminiscent of ‘all over by Christmas’) kept us going – a true light at the end of the tunnel.
Throughout April, and stretching into May, however, the optimism started to waver, we started to crave the outdoors, and one of the most painful realities of the pandemic started to seep through the cracks. It was during this period that 62% of adults felt anxious, whether related to illness, the economy, jobs, or even lockdown itself. The population experienced increased stress levels and increased feelings of loneliness, rates of depression doubled, and demand for prescribed drugs for those experiencing anxiety increased by 34%.
As people, however, we did find wonderful ways to aid our wellbeing, and combat our national crisis as much as possible. As well as the aforementioned quizzes, we dusted off yoga mats to spend time with Joe Wicks, joined Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, danced in our bedrooms to various online live music shows, and attended important classes on our mental health. The period was difficult – but we found plucky ways to thrive and connect, as humans seem to have an uncanny ability to do.
Now we know what we must face in these coming months, it’s important that we start to deploy some of the remedies that we fell back onto last time. Though a slip in our wellbeing may be inevitable, it’s up to us to keep talking to each other, keep active, and keep going.
As friends and family, remember to catchup, and ask how those closest are really feeling, whether that be via a text or a call. It is important to maintain those connections which we usually have, not only to keep a sense or normality, but to keep an eye out for those we love. For employers and colleagues, regular meets that are unrelated to work, like coffee mornings via zoom (to discuss the latest and greatest Netflix series of course!) help recreate the personable environment that an office might provide, and remove a lot of the anxiety that comes with working remotely.
Though these are all fantastic ways of looking after the mental wellbeing of yourself, and those around you, it is also important to be proactive in our approach. As an employer, for example, investing in proper, quality training for you and your staff is a fantastic and effective way of looking after your team and connecting with each other. In the same way that you wouldn’t ride a bike without some protective equipment, it’s always important to provide each other with the necessary tools to protect our mental health, before embarking on what has the potential to harm us. I may not fall off my bike every time I ride it, but I like to be prepared for the chance that I might.
As we go into lockdown, we all stand a chance of falling off; when we are at our lowest points, we may feel alone, anxious, stressed, or depressed.
But we do not need to be.
Though lockdown may seem scary, let’s be proactive in providing ourselves with the necessary protection, by lifting the lid on mental health during lockdown, and safeguarding our friends, families, colleagues, and ourselves.
Let’s learn from last time, and act now!
If you're an employer and are in the process of developing or updating your employee wellbeing initiatives, then take a look at our workplace mental health guide. It can be downloaded for free here www.altruistuk.com/guide.