Alberta’s relaunch strategy means the reopening of many businesses and with Stage 2 implemented on June 12, many more people will be returning to work. Some may be eager to be out of the house and back to the office, but others may have just gotten used to their ‘new normal’ and now have anxieties about going back to work. Others will still be working remotely and facing their own challenges. Regardless of your work situation, your mental health has likely been affected by the pandemic in some way.
It’s no surprise that isolation, physical distancing and changing work and home life have had an effect on mental health across the globe. Here in Canada, Statistics Canada just released results from a crowdsourcing survey on the overall mental health of the participants. Some of the findings: over half of the participants report that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing, most experience at least one symptom of anxiety, and most report higher stress as well as anxieties about their financial situation. That in itself is depressing! But it could serve as a good reminder that we are not alone in feeling alone, depressed or stressed. There are many great mental health resources dedicated to helping individuals during this time, most of which can be accessed from home. We also have put together a free Alberta Mental Health Resource Guide, which includes information on services that you can easily access if you or someone you know may need support.
Check in with Yourself
Regardless of your work situation, it is worth taking a few minutes out of your day, each day, to check in with yourself and find out how you’re feeling and coping through this time. How would you rate your current state of mental health? Are you experiencing symptoms of burnout?
For the past few months, many people have become familiar with video chat software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts in place of in-person meetings. After long hours in front of the camera, are you experiencing what has been termed ‘Zoom fatigue’? An article from CBC News describes the mental exertion and exhaustion video chat users experience as Zoom fatigue, from sitting still for hours in front of the camera and having to be “on” all the time.
Unlike in-person meetings, video chats propose different challenges. What can you do about it? If you have many meetings a day, maybe consider turning your camera off and just use the audio (if this is a viable option) or suggest the meeting be a phone call instead. Taking time away from the screen is an important part of staying energized. Get up and stretch or take a walk.
Check in with Your Colleagues
How can you support your colleagues and staff through these transitions in the workplace? It may be harder now to be in touch and to notice when your employees or colleagues might be struggling. That’s why it’s important to frequently check in and communicate. Ask questions beyond work and find out how they are coping in their current situation. Be sure to let your team know about the options for accommodations and help that is available to them; let them know you are flexible and empathetic to their unique situation.
It’s important for your employees to check-in with themselves, too. Encourage self-reflection, which can serve employees by helping them take a step back, reflect on the current situation, integrate learnings, and celebrate accomplishments (both personal and professional) during times of uncertainty.
This article from Culture Amp provides some prompts for you and your employees to reflect on, which can help put a positive spin on a challenging situation:
- What new skills have you had to acquire given the changes during the crisis?
- Has this change allowed for you to work on additional projects you previously did not have the opportunity to?
- What are you most proud of achieving or contributing to the organization during this time?
- Have your career aspirations changed as a result of COVID-19? What are some areas for growth?
Focus on the Positive
Though the pandemic has brought many challenges, it is worth considering what positives have come from the changes brought upon your life. Maybe you’ve been able to spend more time with your family instead of rushing to appointments or activities; less hustle and bustle can be a nice change!
If you’re ready to be out and about now that the economy is starting back up, what else can you incorporate? Summer is here, it’s time to get outside! Enjoy small gatherings within the regulations. Find a park that is open and enjoy the fresh air. Get that haircut! Dust off the work wear or summer gear and leave the sweatpants behind! It helps to feel good about yourself so maybe that’s a massage or a socially-distant coffee date with a friend. Depending on your comfort level, you might find it beneficial to resume some of your regular activities.
We are all in different physical and mental states and just doing the best we can. Let’s be kind to one another. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you are struggling right now or at any time. We’re not mental health professionals, but if you have questions about how to support yourself or your employees through this time, contact us. We will try our best to help or direct you to someone who can! You can also access our free Alberta Mental Health Resource Guide by signing up your email here.