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Coronavirus: How to support emotional and mental health

Annabel McCaffrey offers advice to sustain your wellbeing in a time of crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is taking us all into unchartered waters. In the face of endless news reports and a reality that changes daily, it’s natural that you might be feeling scared, worried or anxious.

As it stands now, there are a few aspects to our ‘new reality’ that could be causing you concern, from how to cope with the prospects of months working from home to worries about any elderly or vulnerable family members. You may also be worried about how our industry will fare over the next few months.

All of this is normal, but please know that there are some steps you can take to support your emotional health and that of your teams during these times. Try the following tips to help sustain your wellbeing while we navigate coronavirus:

Follow the official advice.
Doing what you can to mitigate risk to yourself and your family can help to give a little peace of mind. The government guidelines and those set out by your employer should be your main source of information and protection. It’s easy to get caught up in swathes of conflicting messages, especially if you’re on social media a lot. Stick to official information and you’ll prevent any additional worry about doing the wrong thing.

Limit your news intake.
You want to be informed, not inundated. Watching rolling news can heighten your anxiety and worry. Choose two or three times a day to read the news, and pick your news sources carefully to – trusted sources are best.

Communicate!
This is so important. Keep talking with your leaders, employees and colleagues. Discuss how you can best work together and support each other through the coming months. Don’t be afraid to refine your strategies as a group as you go along. Share as much as you feel able to – when you’re feeling anxious or ill, for example. At NABS, we always ask people the question: “What do you most need?” Try this with your teammates to find out how you can really help each other and how they can help you.

Take extra care to manage any existing anxiety.
If you already suffer from anxiety, such as health anxiety, you may be experiencing more challenges than usual. It’s important that you find somebody trusted to talk to, whether that’s a supportive friend or family member, a mental health first aider at work, your line manager or one of the support team who manage NABS’ Advice Line.

Reflect on how you’ve managed worries before
You’re bound to have handled worries before; what worked for you? Which methods can you use again now? Zone in on anything that helps you to gain a sense of perspective. Talking through your concerns, and identifying how best to cope with them, can help you to focus on more helpful thoughts. You could investigate talking therapy via NABS to guide you through this process. Learn more about our resilience programme.

Connect with others.
This is especially important if you’re working from home and/or self-isolating. Thankfully, we can still reach out to each other even if we’re stuck at home thanks to instant messaging, video conferencing and social media. Even a simple chat can help to stave off loneliness. You can also call the NABS Advice Line is also here Monday to Friday from 9am – 5.30pm for you for a friendly, informed chat. Find out how to get in touch.

Create a routine.
Having a structure to your day can help boost motivation and keep you engaged with what you’re doing – important if you’re going to be working from home for an extended period of time. Add in treats to look forward to, such as short walks outside (in keeping with advice from the government), to keep your mind refreshed.