“OK campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ‘cause it’s cold out there…”
Although we probably never thought it possible before, many of us are currently experiencing our own version of Groundhog Day.
As the weeks roll on, it’s easy to forget what day it is. I’ve lost track of how many months we have been in lockdown, and despite entering the next phase of this pandemic, which should be exciting, I am feeling zapped of energy. And I know (anecdotally and from studies) others are feeling exhausted too.
The worst thing we could do right now is ignore these struggles. By failing to recognise what’s not working or to not prioritise what we need to feel better, we are at risk of further increasing our levels of stress and potentially burning out over the coming months. The good news is that there are factors that we can control that can help us overcome our troubles, increase our energy, and enable us to feel good and function effectively.
Why are we feeling depleted?
Many of us are tired from the amount of change we have experienced, the time we have spent physically distancing ourselves from others (which can give some of us energy), the hours we have spent on video conferences, and the unknowns that persist around the economy, our health and employment. What’s more, people are feeling frustrated from increased workloads, reductions in pay, working longer but getting less done. And given most large-scale events and travel is banned for the foreseeable future, we don’t have a lot to look forward to, which also impacts our wellbeing.
So what can we do about it?
The first suggestion is to gauge where your wellbeing is at by completing one of the free tests available so you understand where you’re struggling and what’s working, and where you should be focusing. Next, we have to take action to improve our situations. Yet unfortunately, studies have shown that people don’t know how to confidently do this (The Wellbeing Lab, 2020). If this is you, take the time to educate yourself on what you need to be well and to address any areas of concern.
Rather than considering self-care as indulgent, you should view it as enabling yourself to be at your best when with those most important to you. We need to prioritise the time to look after our minds and wellbeing so we can recover from the stress we have experienced and re-energise ourselves for whatever comes next. By being mentally well, we’ll be able to deal with future challenges and uncertainties, and be more able to thrive going forward.
The crisis has underlined the urgency of building a future where our physical health and mental resilience are at the forefrontAriana Huffington
What can workplaces do to support our wellbeing?
Organisations are currently working out how to get their teams physically back into the office. Yet aside from the health and safety measures such as temperature checks, lift protocols and face masks, businesses also need to consider how they are preparing their teams to mentally return to the workplace. If this human element is not addressed, there is no doubt that the organisation will suffer in the long run.
The first priority of organisations should be upskilling their team members on resilience, empowering them to take control of their wellbeing and providing them with the tools to be able to deal with stress and anxiety going forward given change and uncertainty will continue to exist.
Workplaces should also be making it safe for employees to share how they feel about returning to the office and their experiences during lockdown. To do this effectively, feelings of stress or struggle need to be normalised (and not just during a pandemic). Having managers expose their own vulnerabilities and leading by showing care, empathy and compassion towards others will help too. After putting on their oxygen masks first of course.
What’s more, managers need to identify actions to undertake that address their employee’s concerns. Additionally, the regular check-ins that we saw when we were first entered lockdown should continue so the health and wellbeing of employees can keep being monitored. Additionally, leaders will need the skills to enable connection and engagement between team members that are physically apart. And finally, implementing evidence-based wellbeing practices will ensure a team of engaged, motivated, and productive employees, which will prevent burnout and contribute to the health of the organsiation too.