Well like me I am sure most of you are at home and following all the rules. It has not even been 2 weeks yet since we closed the doors of our training centre and separated from our colleagues and friends at the Altta Group. I must say I miss it but not as much as maybe I should. This got me to thinking, why am I ok at the minute, but others may be struggling. Then just like that, a blog happened.
I would like to think of myself as a strong person with good physical health but also good mental health. Don’t get me wrong when we thought we might have to close; I was in a free for all panic about losing our business and our homes. Then the reality set in that this was happening whether I wanted it to or not. It was now time to plan and move forward with our new normal.
I am one of the lucky ones, in that, I have a good family, good friends and good colleagues, not everyone is that fortunate. I can talk at home about how I feel, how my day has gone, or how I feel about the lockdown we find ourselves in. I can do this face to face, or I can use Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp to do this. Again, not everyone has this network to rely on.
How isolation can affect people’s mental health.
When you look at mental health and a lot of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, they tend to have a common theme. Alcohol and drugs make things worse, and isolation is not a good place to be.
Isolation can cause people to go into a depression. It can make you feel anxious or paranoid about what is going on in the outside world. Isolation can also lead to self-harm or even suicide.
When we are isolated, we have nothing but our thoughts to help us through. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have dark thoughts and these may be the people you work with every day but show no outward sign of stress and troubles going on within themselves.
During my volunteering sessions, I have spoken to people who have not had any mental health issues for years but are now struggling with not being able to get to their groups or escape the toxic environment of home.
That last statement of the home being a toxic environment is one that unfortunately a lot of people will understand. The workplace can be an escape for a lot of people. Imagine living:
- In an abusive relationship
- With a bully
- Poor housing
- With loud uncaring neighbours
- In a house with alcohol but you are trying to quit
- With somebody who takes drugs, but you have been clean for ages
Work becomes your escape. For 4 to 12 hours a day you are out of there. You are safe and free. You can think about work and distract yourself from the horrors of home. But now that has gone due to the lockdown.
We all look forward to the weekend; we can go out we can exercise our stresses and troubles away. We are able to leave the horrors of home behind us and stay at friends. But that has now gone due to the lockdown.
So how can we help people who may be suffering?
Don’t get me wrong; I fully support the lockdown and what it is doing for us, but we must also look at how it can affect us. Very rarely would I go for a pub lunch or go out for a meal during the week, but now I have been told I can not go, I want it badly. I’m guessing the forbidden fruit reference springs to mind.
What if you need to get out through to have contact with others as you live alone or as we said you live in that toxic environment. You can not get that now, and therefore we need to KEEP IN TOUCH.
KEEPING IN TOUCH, with your colleagues or loved ones may really be the difference between life and death. Much the same as staying away now can be. So, what can we do to help those who need it most and to stop others from entering a poor state of mental health? Remember we all move along the mental health continuum, and there is no health without mental health.
Altta Group has opened a WhatsApp group that allows its employees and subcontractors to stay in touch and still have a laugh like they would in work.
As their mental health first aider, I have made it clear that I am available to them even though I am at home. They know they can text, email or call me and talk to me with the same level of confidentiality as when we are at work
We are having regular Zoom meetings to ensure that we still get the face to face contact that we all need. We are also putting together a quiz for the team to take part in.
They can enter as an individual, or they can enter as a household or family. We are doing this because we care for those who work with us and alongside us every day. By helping them, we are also helping ourselves too. We all need the same things in life, and we are all social creatures just in different parts of the scale.
How else can we help our employees, colleagues and friends?
If you cannot Zoom or Facetime, then just a voice call could make all of the difference to a person’s life. We do not have to be over the top or extravagant in what we do; we just need to KEEP IN TOUCH and let people know we care. This is the same for our elderly and other loved ones too.
What can we do to help ourselves?
All we need is a healthy distraction from our lives to help us keep mentally healthy and strong. Why not escape reality by:
- Reading that book, you have meant to read for ages
- Starting the boxset on Netflix that you have never had time to do
- Listen to some music that reminds you of good times
- Look online for some home workouts so you can help yourself physically and mentally
- Clean the house. A clean space to live makes you feel clean and healthy
- Try and stick to a schedule. We are creatures of habit and we need a little routine in our lives. If you are working from home, try and start at your usual time, take your break at your usual time etc
- Have a virtual tea break with those you normally talk too
- Why not use this time to check in with those who you do not normally talk to?
- Try and have a weekend. As tempting as it is to cut the grass or decorate, leave it until the end of your week. That way you still have something to look forward to
- Use your imagination, try and recreate your favourite place to eat and treat yourself to a night out (but really in)
- Keep exercising or start it. It feels horrible when doing it, but it gives a sense of achievement when done
- Shower and clean clothes every day, don’t work at home in your pj’s. You wouldn’t go to work like that
- But the most important of them all KEEP IN TOUCH
If you need help, then reach out. There are so many resources out there, just look at our blog here. Nobody should be on their own ever but especially not through these testing times.
Well, this 41-year-old is off to have a skipping session in the garden (in an exercising way) not like round a playground. I look forward to our next blog. Be happy be safe and please KEEP IN TOUCH