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Looking after your mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Looking after your mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

06 Oct by Deborah Wilson

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Most of us have certainly been pushed and pulled in many different directions in 2020. For some of us, this has led to finding ourselves outside of our comfort zone a little more often than usual. For others, this means very different things and while the pull may be good, the push is not. Every single one of us is an individual. We are all different and have different stress and anxiety tolerance levels. Being self-aware during these difficult times is critical, as is having the capacity to be vulnerable with others and reach out for help if needed. Self-care is never selfish.
 
Speaking of being vulnerable it is good to know: How much do I have left in my tank? What is my breaking point?  
 
Upon reflection, I have identified a number of key areas that have changed my day-to-day life and my ability to, at times to remain as positive and upbeat as usual.
 
 •     Along with most people, a number of my liberties have been removed and not by choice!
 
•     Again, like most of us, I am being told where I can walk, places I can and can’t go and so on.
 
•     Now that we are thankfully back in the office, we must manage how many people are in the same room to keep staff safe and we think twice about what is being used communally — for example, the dishwasher is out of bounds for the moment.
 
•     I have never spent so much time on Zoom calls since I started using Zoom. My average day is filled with multiple Zoom calls consisting of intense conversations that require me to be switched ON all day. Granted, I have instigated these calls because they have been needed.
 
•     Limited downtime between meetings. So much so that I find myself scrambling for a few minutes to run to the bathroom or grab a cup of tea in-between calls. Again, while this is somewhat in my control, all of these conversations have been absolutely necessary.
 
The days are jam-packed from start to finish so planning ahead is essential. Somehow, I have managed to find time to exercise but that small window is now becoming earlier and earlier in the day. I’m currently squeezing exercise in at 4:45am. Exercise is a non-negotiable for me because it’s a game-changer when it comes to my mindset. Similarly, bedtime has also slowly gotten earlier and earlier with one small but important change: I am reading more before going to sleep. Reading is a welcome distraction from the never-ending news cycle and work.
 
While looking more into my own situation, I found myself gravitating back to a white paper that I wrote about career currency in the digital age (reach out if you would like a copy). The key findings of the paper state that to facilitate a successful career that has longevity, we must focus on our ability to:
 
 •     Adapt to whatever is taking place around us.
 
•     Learn on-the-go and in a speedy manner.
 
•     Utilise the technology and data that is at hand.
 
•     Recognise the need to prioritise our mental health.
 
 Right now, that last point is especially important. In the white paper, I write:
 
 The pandemic has and will test all of us in different ways. Block out time everyday to tune into yourself and be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Practice deliberate positivity. Self-awareness is the key to moving forward in a way that is right for you. If you need help, reach out. Don’t ignore your mental wellbeing to the point where your body forces you to take notice.
 
What we do and do not do from here are both equally as important. Ensure that whatever strategy you have as an individual and/or a leader (if you are leading a team), has a focus on mental health and wellbeing. Remain agile and willing to change things when they are not working. Be tolerant, of yourself and others – it isn’t an easy time for anyone. Even if you are based in a location in Australia that is beginning to open back up, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. In fact, it is far from over and has really only just begun. We will adapt and morph into our new norms. 
 
Please make the time to ensure you are checking in with yourself and those around you on a regular basis. Put in place some simple steps to ensure you have plenty in the tank! 
 
Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose.
 
Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746.