Mental health is an important issue for me as it has touched my friends, family, co-workers and myself over the years. It has been a tough 11 months for even the most positive of people, and even I have been feeling the darkness creep in recently. We know what we should do, but that doesn’t always happen – personally I feel it’s OK to not be OK so I hope that some of you can relate to this.
Some days I wake up feeling like I am on the front desk seeing a Platinum Gold member walking towards me with that look we all know. The one that makes you wish the shift had finished 10 minutes ago and someone else had to deal with them.
Why are we feeling this way?
No-one prepared us for homeschooling, or staying in the same four walls with your partner and family for months on end with no escape. I’ve realised that my title has changed from “mum” to “but mum” (no, this has nothing to do with my backside) and I’ve started to question many things, including my sanity and choice of life partner. I do love them dearly most of the time. In South Africa we can't even buy alcohol during lockdown (not that I would suggest this is a healthy way to destress).
Many of us have also experienced a change in our work environments. Working remotely can leave you feeling out of touch, excluded or even just demotivated. Some of us still have targets to meet and deadlines to hit, so how do we combat that?
What the experts say
According to the experts, we should be doing certain things to boost both our mind and body health. And I agree – but putting this into practice is not always easy. Let's face it, sometimes we just want to eat chocolate, not wear a bra and watch a series on Netflix that will not impact our lives in any profound way. For those that want to do it the right way, there are resources out there with great suggestions such as connecting with others, exercising and eating a brain-healthy diet.
What I should do vs what I do
This is often expensive and takes effort but there are some great (and affordable) online recipes out there. I look for inspiration on Google or watch Gordan Ramsey to give me that uplifting feeling that the person he is swearing at is having a worse day than me.
Walking around the house to the fridge to eat the healthiest option (hopefully chocolate mousse) doesn’t count and I am pretty sure this is frowned upon, on so many levels. I do think walking to the shop to buy snacks counts though!
While I could be reading some mind blowing book that is both educational and helps with personal development, I just want my mind to slow down. Thinking about where I should be in my career and what Joe Bloggs did in his struggle to build a multi-billion dollar company is not relaxing or motivating for me right now.
I find this hard to do when my brain won’t shut down and is jumping from one place to the next at warp speed. Maybe if I ate right and exercised more my brain would just stop from exhaustion, I am not sure.
How I have been coping with the “new normal”
Have a sanity check buddy
If I’m not having a good day, I won’t just hide behind a smile and conjure up fake enthusiasm from the pits of my soul – that is too exhausting. If I feel like this I have a friend I always call to make sure my level of sanity is still the same (so far from normal). This is someone who won’t judge me but has the ability to lighten my mood and when needed provide a kick up the rear. They also have a wicked sense of humor so I am left feeling light and full of joy and ready to face the world again.
Set realistic objectives
The first one I have is making my bed in the morning. That way by the time I sit at my desk I have already achieved something.
Get dressed like you are going to the office
This puts me in the right frame of mind and ensures I am focused even if I am not leaving my house and generally makes me feel better about myself.
Expand your comfort zone
Mindset is important as we will most likely be doing things outside of our comfort zone at some point. Don’t be scared to share new ideas and think outside the box as this is what will ensure our companies survive. I found that I love doing social media for GuestRevu and that allows me to be creative and have fun which boosts my motivation to gain experience in other areas, like writing this blog.
Find people that inspire you
I make a point of chatting to people outside the company that I have got to know and generally this inspires me as I get to throw some ideas around and grow both my friendships and work relationships. Once I was struggling to be creative so myself and a friend from a different company did a social word challenge where we gave each other a word each week that had to be incorporated into a post (which lead to some of my best work).
Perfect “the look”
If you have kids or a partner, perfect that look your mother gave you as a kid when you were about to cross the line. It works like a charm and generally they will back out of the room quietly and you will have 10 minutes of peace. Also try wearing headphones – that way when they walk into the room they will think you're in a meeting, so this works really well (don’t tell my family).
Chat to colleagues
Make sure you have meetings with your colleagues as you may find they are feeling the same, so touch base and check. We use Slack for internal conversations which helps me stay connected with everyone. (On a side note, you can create your own emojis which has provided me with no end of entertainment.)
When you’re not working, spend quality time with the people that you are under house arrest with. Be present in mind and body, forget about the small stuff and make new memories. My son made me laugh so much in the pool the other day my belly hurt and I nearly cried. And you know what, it felt great.
According to a recent mental health study by Hospitality Action, 60% of respondents said they were feeling “worried, stressed, demotivated or frustrated about the future”. I found the results fascinating, and helped me realise that others out there felt the same way I did. You can find the study here.
If it’s not within your control and you need professional help, take the first step and don’t wait. If you are doing alright and think someone needs help, then be the one to reach out to them. Here are some of the numbers that you can call for professional help:
Helpline: 03444 775 774
Text Service: 07537 416 905
#Coronanxiety Support & Resources: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/coronanxiety-support-resources/
The South Africa Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)
Online Toolkit for Mental Health and Covid19:
Helplines: 0800 21 22 23, 0800 70 80 90 or 0800 456 789
Whatsapp: 076 882 2775
Ultimately, there is always a silver lining even if we don’t see it yet. Every day is new and we are in charge of our mindset and destiny so be brave, put on your big girl (or boy pants) and show the world how amazing you are! (I hope that is profound enough for everyone).
If you have any ways to cope that you want to share with us, please leave them in the comments below.