Mental health and building resilience in 2021
Hello and welcome to our first Everyday Inclusion of 2021. I’m Sarah and I’m excited to say I’m the new Inclusion and Diversity Consultant at Inclusive Employers. In this edition you can read my blog on mental health, but first I would like to share what support and resources we have available to you in these challenging times.
It is no surprise that on Monday night we were told to stay at home in the light of the covid infection rates and I hope also no surprise that we at Inclusive Employers are adapting and amending our plans to continue to support members in an agile and timely manner.
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Although we now know how to manage work with children at home, use Zoom and Teams endlessly, care for our families and friends remotely and work productively, last time round for most of us the days were long, and the sun shone. It is a different deal in the short days of January and February. We are not gloomy – vaccinations mean optimism for the future but in the short term, a new top tips for line managers is here, a reminder that you can access all of the 2020 covid related top tips in the members section here and a final note about 2 new mental health related webinars that we are adding to the one already programmed for January.
Booking details will follow next week. If you have additional needs, please let your account manager know.
Having previously worked in the Inclusion and Diversity team at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, I’m lucky enough to have had experience as a member of Inclusive Employers and the advice, resources and support they provide for all things inclusion and diversity. A real passion of mine is mental health. I’m a Mental Health First Aid instructor and in my spare time I lead a running group which focuses on talking about mental health. I think looking after our mental health is something that we should all prioritise, but often we don’t pay attention to it until we’re struggling.
2020 was an incredibly tough year for lots of us, with the Covid pandemic impacting on so many aspects of our lives. Whether it’s isolation and loneliness, uncertainty, bereavement, or loss of jobs and income, the impact on our mental health has been devastating. A study by the Mental Health Foundation highlighted the deepening distress and increase in suicidal thoughts and loneliness across the UK since March 2020.
Personally, my mental health took quite a hit in 2020. After losing my Dad to cancer in April, during lockdown, it was time for me to listen to my own advice and use my coping mechanisms to deal with the situation as best as I could. For me, running was a huge help and gave me the time and space I often needed (so much so, I wrote a little blog about it). I also had to lower my expectations of myself and just take each day at a time.
January can be a challenging month at the best of times with Blue Monday (18th January) being calculated as the most depressing day of the year. This takes into consideration the weather conditions, the post-Christmas blues, potential debt, failing to stick to our New Year’s resolutions and a general lack of motivation. When you add Covid and a lockdown into the mix, it gets even harder and brings even more challenges for us all.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! There are actions we can all be taking to improve our mental health and build resilience to help us deal with whatever 2021 has in store for us.
Here are some of my top tips for looking after your own metal health during lockdown and beyond:
• Look after your physical health – there is a link between your mental and physical health so having a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and keeping active are all really important.
• Stay connected with others – whether it’s video calls, phone calls, messages or meeting up for a socially distanced walk, try and keep in touch.
• Get outside as much as possible – it’s really important to get as much natural light as possible (especially in the winter) and to connect with nature. Go for walks when you can, try and sit near a window while you’re working or use a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamp to give you a boost of light throughout the day.
• Do something you enjoy – we all need downtime to relax and de-stress. Make sure you are taking time out to have fun and enjoy yourself.
• Get a good amount of sleep – not only is it good for our physical health, sleep also helps us process information and regulate the chemicals in our brains which are important in managing our moods.
• Try to limit your time on social media – it’s been shown that social media is linked to anxiety, depression, a ‘fear of missing out’ and can affect sleep quality. Be mindful of how much you’re using social media and try not to compare yourself to others.
• Get some support if you need it – asking for help can be one of the hardest things to do but it’s important that you get support if you are struggling, or you can signpost others if you think they might need help.
You can find out more about how to look after your mental health by signing up to our Mental Health and Resilience webinar on 19th January.