A lot of my clients’ concerns recently have been around the challenge of supporting their furloughed staff to get through this coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Many of them have been really worried about their employees’ wellbeing – they didn’t want to furlough them, but they had no choice.
I’ve been asked time and time again whether I could offer any advice that they could pass on, to help their employees make the best of furlough, and protect their mental health. I felt it was important to find some positivity in all this, to help everyone affected to cope and thrive as much as possible through furlough.
I made this video just a few days after lockdown started. We’re several weeks into it now, with the government having extended it.
Hopefully, the initial shock of being furloughed and going into lockdown will have worn off a bit by now. But we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint, and as time goes by, lockdown fatigue may well be setting in.
I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves of some ways we can stay positive.
- Stay social.
Have plenty of video calls with friends and family. Organise some virtual events with a fun theme – it could be anything from a bake-off with friends and family, to a cocktail making session to a karaoke evening. Whatever is going to keep you connected and get you laughing.
- Take up a new hobby.
How many things have you started in the past, or wanted to start, but not got around to? From singing to martial arts, there are endless options out there, and many people have posted free stuff online to help you.
- Keep fit.
This is one of the biggest ways to help you stay positive. Joe Wicks’ morning PE sessions have become a national, if not an international phenomenon over the last few weeks. If he’s not your cup of tea, you’ll find plenty of other fitness options online.
- Fresh air
Unlike some people in other countries, we’re all allowed out for exercise once a day. Use it, and – whilst sticking to the social distancing guidelines – make it count!
- Healthy eating
I’m not saying you should deprive yourself of your favourite snacks if that’s what keeps you going, but keep that in moderation and try to make the majority of your diet good, healthy food for your brain as well as your body. Oily fish, high in Omega 3 oils, is great for the brain, as are pumpkin seeds, broccoli, blueberries and dark chocolate. And drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated helps the brain to get more oxygen and nutrients, which supports better positivity.
Never underestimate the importance of a good sleep routine. When you’re anxious and stressed, sleep is often one of the first things to suffer, with the knock-on effect of sending your mental fitness plummeting further. Resist the temptation to stay up late bingeing on Netflix every night, and try to have plenty of technology breaks, especially for the last couple of hours before bedtime.
- Learn some new skills
You’ve probably never had this much time off. It’s undoubtedly more challenging if you’re also trying to home-school kids, but now could be the time to think about your career, review your CV and learn the skills that could help you improve your career prospects, or change direction completely, once we’re able to get back to work.
Employers taking tough decisions around furloughing staff – whether just a few, or tens or even hundreds of thousands. Many have a genuine concern for the mental fitness of their employees, especially those who don’t know whether there will be a job for them to come back to.
Mental health support for employers who’ve had to furlough employees
Quite rightly, there’s been a lot in the media about concern for employees. Being furloughed, and potentially losing your job, is hugely stressful and many will be very anxious.
But I’m also concerned about the impact that having to make that decision will have had on the CEOs, C-Suite Directors, managers and entrepreneurs. I’ve talked to many over the last few weeks, and there’s one thing I want to get across to you.
Don’t underestimate the challenge you’ve just had to take on, and the impact it might be having on your mental health.
When coronavirus lockdown started, and employers had to begin the process of furloughing staff, one of my Coronavirus (Covid-19)Survival Hacks videos focussed on employers. You can watch it, and the rest of the series, here.
Be kind to yourself
Find small ways to relax and chill over the weekend. If you’re not furloughed and still working hard during the week, trying to keep business going under lockdown, do make sure you allow yourself some downtime.
When you’re working at home, it can be hard to switch off, so schedule in breaks, and keep the weekend for yourself, and your family. Many restaurants and takeaways are doing home delivery, so why not order in your favourite meal, and sit down together as a family? Watch a feel good movie. Do positive stuff for your physical and mental health, like getting some exercise, or doing something creative to help clear your head and create positivity. Work can wait until Monday.
I’ve lived with high levels of stress and anxiety for years, and during a major burnout in 2016 I was in a really difficult place. Now a lot of my work is about helping others to get through difficult times.
My series of Coronavirus Survival Hacks videos was filmed over the first two weeks of coronavirus pandemic lockdown, and I’ve shared some of my top tips for staying positive and dealing with some of the challenges.
The most important thing, if you’re struggling with mental health issues, or if you’re concerned about any of the people around you; is to reach out for help. I’ll be happy to talk to you.