In November 2020, Nicola Dean, ACT Safeguarding Adults in Sport Manager, ran a session for the Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport Virtual Conference 2020, Building Resilience Together.
‘Safeguarding your Wellbeing during the Coronavirus Crisis’ asked participants to consider what improves their wellbeing and what they can put in place to get through these difficult times.
We have included her advice and top tips below.
What is wellbeing?
There are lots of factors that contribute to our wellbeing, this could involve:
- Feeling you are contributing to society
- Your physical, emotional, and mental health
- Living free from abuse and neglect
- Having positive and safe relationships with others
- Opportunities for social and economic stability
- Opportunities to engage in work, study, or training
What is mental health?
There is a strong connection between physical and mental health, and both need to be maintained.
‘Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’
‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. (WHO)
How has the pandemic and lockdown impacted wellbeing?
In the UK more than 20% of people reported low levels of happiness between 20 and 30 March 2020.
Half of British adults ‘felt anxious about Covid-19 lockdown’.
More than 25 million people, 49.6% of the adult population, were affected by high levels of anxiety in late March as the decision to put the UK into lockdown triggered fears about health, job security and making ends meet among half the adult population.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said its regular update on wellbeing showed the number of people over 16 reporting deep levels of concern and stress had more than doubled since late 2019.
What are the signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression?
- Loss of appetite
- A lump in the throat
- Tight or aching muscles
- Neck or shoulder pain
How can depression, anxiety and stress affect you?
Different people may experience anxiety, stress and depression in different ways. Some common symptoms include:
- Negative thoughts
- Feeling tired
- Sleeping a lot/not sleeping at all
- Pacing/ not being able to settle
- Heart racing
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of enjoyment in previously enjoyed things
- Under eating/ Over eating
- Increased use of alcohol
It is normal to feel stressed in uncertain times.
When we are mentally well we are able to deal with these stresses in appropriate ways. When we are mentally unwell we may struggle and rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
So how can you safeguard your wellbeing during lockdown?
- Talk about your worries or concerns with a friend of family member
- Limit your consumption of the news and social media
- Avoid making assumptions about lockdown, the future and what the ‘new normal’ might look like
- Do not compare yourself to others and how they are coping. Everyone will deal with the pandemic differently.
- Beware of ‘pandemic pressure’. This is feeling like you need to exercise more, cook more and engage in lots of virtual video calls.
- Choose activities that you want to engage in and that will support you to feel positive.
- Take time to reflect and practice self-compassion.
The impact of working from home
The mental strain of working from home is being seen all around the country.
Working from home is causing something being called ‘E-Presenteeism’. This is the idea that people feel they need to show they are constantly working and answering emails. Research from Linkedin says people are on average working an extra 28 hours per month.
Mental health research showed people felt anxious about working from home, and risked burn out if we maintained ‘business as usual expectations’.
86 percent of people surveyed felt the need to prove to bosses they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs.
3 tips to avoid Working from Home burnout
- Maintain physical and social boundaries. Have different clothes for work and relaxation. If you can, use different rooms for work and leisure. You could try taking a walk before work to make it feel like your usual commute.
- Maintain temporal boundaries as much as possible- Try to generate a routine, that could be adopting your usual 9-5 working pattern or a new routine that helps you fit in caring responsibilities. Either way, create a routine and try to stick to it. Have clear times for work and relaxation.
- Focus on your most important work- What are your immediate tasks? Prioritise these during your working day.
Keep a stress journal
It can be difficult to think how you feel and what makes you feel positive, or in contrast what drains your energy. Keeping a stress journal is a useful way to reflect on your feelings and recognise activities that benefit your wellbeing.
In your stress journal consider:
- How do I know when I’m feeling out of balance/stressed?
- What do I notice?
- What might others notice?
- What gives me energy or makes me feel good?
- What drains my energy?
- What can I change from this week for next week?
Where can I find further advice?
- The Mental Health Foundation have produced guidance on how to look after your mental health during the pandemic.
- The NHS have practical tips on how to manage anxiety.
- The World Health Organisation have produced tips on supporting the wellbeing of children and young people during Covid-19.
- The NSPCC have produced guidance on how to support children’s mental health.
- Mind have created advice relating to mental health and lockdown
- The Ann Craft Trust have produced guidance on supporting the wellbeing of young carers during the crisis.