How to Self-Evaluate Your Mental Health in Your “New Normal”
While much of the discussion around the coronavirus has focused on ways to protect our physical health and well-being, the effects of the virus on our mental health should not be overlooked. In fact, a recent joint study from Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine found that more than 90% of people surveyed reported feeling “increased worry, frustration, boredom or anxiety” during the ongoing pandemic.
In addition to new challenges or impacts at work, people are also feeling overwhelmed or worried by childcare issues, concerns about elderly loved ones or those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and the lack of physical contact with families and friends.A s you establish and navigate through your “new normal” and make your way back into the workplace, or increase your remote working responsibilities, it’s important to keep tabs on your mental health and ensure you’re getting the support you need to stay healthy in this unprecedented time.
Tips to Help You Support Your Mental Health
Here are some tips to help you support your mental health, and the mental health of your loved ones, as well.
1. Learn To Recognize Symptoms of Stress
It’s not just you: this situation is stressful. And that stress can have an impact on us mentally and physically. The uncertainty in our lives right now, coupled with intense media coverage and an ever-changing set of guidelines, makes it easy to allow fear and anxiety take over. Living in this heightened state is exhausting and can lead to job stress and occupational burnout (an actual classified occupational phenomenon). The CDC outlines an extensive list of symptoms of stress during this pandemic, including:
- Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
- Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
- Lacking motivation
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Having trouble sleeping & concentrating
- Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
- Taking care of personal and family needs while working
- Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
- Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule
Recognizing these symptoms can allow you to take steps to find coping strategies to help address and manage stress related to both your personal and professional duties.
2. Check In With Yourself And Others
Communicating with others is still possible (even with social distancing) and being with other humans makes us feel better by promoting a sense of safety, belonging and security! It helps us to know we are not alone and that others experience the same worries and fears we do. Ensuring you have an open dialogue with your managers and leadership team also allows you to take advantage of valuable resources like employee health services and support that may be part of your benefit package. Some things you can do to ensure you’re feeling seen and heard:
- Talking to employers and employees about how the pandemic is affecting your workplace.
- Ask about mental health resources that are available to you and how to access them.
- Identify things that are creating additional stress such as finding it hard to socially distance in certain areas of your office or building.
3. Establish A Consistent Daily Routine
A consistent routine helps you control the things you can control, which is comforting. It also helps give you a systematic approach to cleaning, disinfecting and wearing protective gear, which makes you less likely to forget to take an important step. To assess whether your routine needs tweaking, here are some things to consider:
- Are you keeping a regular sleep schedule?
- Do you take regular work breaks to stretch, socialize or check in with family and friends?
- Do you get outdoors in the natural light?
- Do you have a regular start and end time for your work day, whether you’re in the office or working remotely?
- Do you practice mindfulness techniques?
4. Know How To Get Support
Sometimes just knowing how to reach out for help if we need it can reduce our fear and anxiety. Here are some tips that can help if you find you are experiencing symptoms of stress during this difficult time. Employers recognize how important mental health is to their employees well-being, so talk to your HR representative and ensure you have access to all the benefits that are part of your employment. These typically include services like an Employee Assistance Program which provide a broad range of resources including personal counseling, financial counseling services and wellness coaching. Identify any COVID-19 resources available through your employer. For example, Vector Solutions developed our complimentary Coronavirus Resource Center, filled with comprehensive information, including training videos on managing stress and anxiety, cleaning and disinfecting common spaces, and CDC guidance on how to make and wear cloth face coverings. Review the CDC’s Resources for Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19, with resources for getting immediate help for a broad range of mental and physical health crises.
We Are All In The Same Boat
At Vector Solutions, we’re not exempt from the stresses the pandemic has placed on our workplaces and valued team members. We know firsthand how complex and challenging this crisis is for individuals and businesses and believe it is critical that we look out for ourselves and each other.