Back to Work: 19 Practical Tips For Post-Lockdown Mental Health
This Monday we have another blog from Anthony Peacock. Those of you who have been following along with blogs from our ULU community: ULU Nation will know that Mondays are dedicated to Anthony. And that Anthony has been writing regularly about life during lockdown. Today, Anthony will address the fears surrounding an inevitable return to work. He’s also compiled 19 tips from eminent psychiatrists on how to look after your mental health during the transition to a ‘new normal.’
Back to work
This week, a lot of Britain is heading back to work, although under circumstances that are distinctly odd. The message is still to stay at home if you can. But people are feeling under inevitable pressure to return to work. Some have even been told explicitly to return to work, as shops have to re-open soon in order to survive.
And although any signs of normality are welcome, not everyone is happy to be getting back to business. One reason of course is public transport, which many people will have to resort to in order to reach their places of work. Public transport has been well-known as hotbed of infection in the past. A fact that’s been tacitly acknowledged by the latest regulations that require everyone to wear masks and keep a distance. Because of this, there are queues, delays and tension – adding to the unreal atmosphere that’s on the streets at the moment.
Far from being a return to normality, many people are having to face up to the worst of both worlds: an end to the relative safety of refuge at home, but no end to the uncertainty and doubt that so many people feel about greater exposure to danger.
It only takes a short walk outside to discover that life is far from normal, and that people still feel uneasy about interacting with others. And that’s not exactly going to help people’s anxiety levels, faced with growing unemployment and the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19, widely speculated on by the newspapers.
Financial worries are at the forefront too, with many companies making no secret of their plans to shed staff once the furloughing scheme is over.
As a result, psychiatrists have sounded the alarm bells about mental health, especially if the crisis continues to drag on with no end in sight. Dealing with prolonged traumatic stress paired with growing uncertainty about illness, jobs, schools, and what the “new normal” might look like – as well as buying into the worst-case scenarios widely depicted by the media, politicians, and “experts” – is likely to cause issues a long way into the future.
19 tips for looking after mental health after lockdown
With this being a simple fact, it’s how we deal with it that makes the difference. As wartime has shown, trauma is a communal affair, and it’s only by admitting problems and looking for help that people will cope: leaning on one another for support rather than judgment or fear.
So, here are 19 tips from one eminent psychiatrist about how to get through the challenging times ahead caused by Covid-19. It’s a quick guide to building the sort of practical and mental strength that will be an invaluable defence to the pressures and dangers that we all occasionally feel.
- Take the necessary precautions and adhering to official safety protocols
- Reconnect to ourselves and our own version of a spirituality – whether this involves a high power or religion or not
- Reconnect with family and loved ones, especially those we haven’t seen for a while
- Check up on neighbours who may be vulnerable
- Look after those who have been otherwise forgotten, and especially think about those worse off than ourselves
- Seek and spread clear communication about how to improve the situation, through educational campaigns and leading by example
- Support people on the frontline, such as NHS workers and supermarket staff
- Brainstorm short and long-term practical solutions, especially for basic needs in the here and now: working the problem
- Pay special attention to mental health and honestly assess your state of being – if you’re becoming overloaded, make sure to take time to rest and focus on yourself
- Advocate for calmness and spreading the message of hope among all you meet
- Focus on unity and community service, rather than division and selfishness – it can be all too easy to be judgemental and finger-point, especially on social media. But try to look for the good in every person and situation.
- Find opportunities during this challenging period to enjoy your family time
- Become part of the solution, not the problem – and have the humility to admit that the problem sometimes lies within ourselves
- Focus on emotional and spiritual needs that are often set aside in times of crisis
- Encourage sharing, rather than hoarding resources and essential items
- Collaborate rather than competing with your colleagues and acquaintances
- Use all available resources for healing, including products such as CBD
- Focus on children by creating healthy and attractive ways for them to unwind
- Pay extra attention to self-care and the luxuries that make you feel good
Maybe these tips are obvious, but taken together, they will empower people during a pivotal moment in history. We’re all going to need reserves of mental strength that we didn’t use before as we head back to work – even if we’re not actually aware of the stress that we’re subconsciously under. Hidden stress is often the most dangerous type.
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And remember above all else, the ULU motto: U love U!
For more information and support regarding mental health during lockdown, check out this handy blog: Coronavirus: Guidance for Better Mental Health