Long Covid – protecting our Mental Health
The pandemic has been with us for what seems like forever – and there is no normal yet. Will it ever return? This uncertainty is having and will continue to have a massive impact on our mental health. Those who don’t usually suffer from anxiety or stress will have felt the effects of Covid over the past long year. It’s still a ticking time bomb for many reasons, but primarily because of the following:
- Our appetite for risk varies greatly.
Despite the vaccination programme, better medicines, restrictions removed, risks and dangers still exist. Everyone has their own unique situation and reaction to this risk. Perhaps vulnerable family members, some family members not yet fully vaccinated or some chose not to get vaccinated, the fear of imposed isolation (locked in our homes is one thing but there are those who are financially impacted and may not have the financial support in order to do this), the fear of new variants, being forced to go back to offices and exposure to lots of people. It’s a minefield varying by individuals which should never be assumed.
- The unknown is rather unknown
The vaccines were rolled out very quickly. We don’t know how truly effective they will be or the after-effects. What will happen if there is extended exposure to the virus and we catch Covid even after we’ve been vaccinated? What happens if more variants appear?
The impacts of lockdown, homeschooling children, disruption to socializing, seeing our family (including relatives & friends abroad) is a minefield – enough to fuel anxiety in us all even more so as the restrictions (for now) are disappearing but the virus is still surging.
- We begin to question our choices and the life we have crafted
The unexpected and unbelievable has happened. Will it happen again? A natural process is to question if the choices you made and the life you have built is sustainable? Many of us are probably doing some deep thinking and considering major changes in order to survive whatever the new normal looks like. Considerations such as:
- Location – given the immediate acceptance of home working and probably a long-term hybrid model, or remote working model, where we live becomes less and less important. Inexpensive cities & areas people may find themselves reconsidering if they can exchange location to a large city for a cheaper home with more space and closer to countryside & nature.
- Career – how stressful is your job? Do you need to earn the money that you are earning? Is there a better balance to be struck with work-life balance and a slower pace of life? Is what you are doing meaningful and fulfilling?
- Holidays – many of us rely on regular holidays in order to recharge. The past year has seen many holidays cancelled, staycations taken at home, money spent on home projects, or holidays taken to care for/homeschool children, meaning many of us are running on empty and at risk of burnout. Time off to recharge one way or another is essential.
Top tips for individuals to protect our long term mental health post-pandemic:
- Tune in – take time to assess your stress levels and most importantly what’s causing them. This can be achieved with regular meditation or talking therapies
- Do a review – try the Wheel of Life to review all parts of your life and where you want to be
- Build a plan – review your goal and options to get there. Build a plan based on what’s realistic. Write it down and review it often
- Get a coach – you may benefit from the help of a Life Coach – some of these decisions may be quite significant and a coach can help you move out of your comfort zone away from fear & anxiety attached
Top tips for employers to drive engagement & business productivity:
- Check-in regularly – building an open-door culture and doing regular reviews with your staff to understand key challenges and priorities
- Offer flexibility – the little things matter - flexible working, reduced hours, more holidays can often be offered without much investment/cost to a business but can make a significant difference
- Align rewards & recognition to proactive mental health & wellbeing – offer incentives, support, and actively encourage regular reviews to promote proactive mental health
- Offer proactive positive mental health support – offer 1:1 support to enable individuals to build a personalized resilience plan.
A small investment for a long-term win. A Healthy Mind is a happy mind.
CEO & Co-Founder
Healthy Minds Club
Image credits: Imagen de Engin Akyurt en Pixabay