Looking after yourself, and others, while working from home – Mental Health Awareness Week
Posted on 18th May 2020 by Phil Ainley MCIM CMktr
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness week takes place from May 18th to May 24th, 2020. This year’s theme is kindness.
Never in our lifetime has our mental health been so important. The personal anguish caused by the coronavirus outbreak and the loneliness and isolation that has come with the lockdown has affected the mental wellbeing of most of the nation.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness week focuses on kindness, because kindness and considerate acts have the power to heal mental wounds and are vital in times like these.
Throughout the challenges brought by the Coronavirus outbreak, there have been many acts of selflessness and kindness that have provided rays of light to cut through the darkness.
There are many stories of kind acts by friends and neighbours who are selflessly giving up their time to help those who are most vulnerable in society at this time. Also, the fantastic efforts of Captain Tom Moore who wanted to help by raising £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 laps around his garden (2.5km). At the time of writing this article he has raised over £32.5million!
To find out how you can get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week visit the Mental Health Foundation website here.
Freelancers, be kind to yourselves
Unfortunately, kindness alone cannot heal all and mental health issues take many forms, from stress and anxiety, to poor memory and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Many freelancers work from home, therefore you would be excused for thinking they are equipped to cope with the current situation, but in normal circumstances they will meet friends and clients, and from time-to-time even work away from home in a café or bar. At present that is not a realistic option despite this week’s easing of certain restrictions.
When you are freelancing you are responsible for everything and at times it can be a lonely existence. This not only means meeting client deadlines and trying to earn enough money to pay the bills, but also looking after your own health and wellbeing and in many cases that of your family too. All of which can significantly increase your levels of stress.
If you are feeling any symptoms of stress, anxiety, loneliness or generally feeling down, then it could be time to seek help and talk to someone.
Freelancers don’t have the benefit of being able to call on the support of a company HR department yet are arguably more vulnerable to experiencing a mental health issue than those in employment.
Don’t feel embarrassed and pressured into having to deal with things on your own, because you are not alone. Search online for NHS Every Mind Matters and/or you could book an appointment with your Doctor.
Remember, looking after yourself is just as important as looking after your clients and meeting your project deadlines.
10 ways you can be kind to yourself:
- Create time for yourself – Try and do something you enjoy every day.
- Respect yourself – Learn to value who you are, to trust yourself and your own judgement, to think for yourself and make your own decisions and try not to compare yourself to others.
- Be kind to others – Being kind to others will make you feel good inside. Through being kind to those around you you’ll be making yourself feel better.
- Take good care of yourself – After a testing day it can be too easy to skip your usual evening run or gym session, open a bottle of wine and put your feet up. But maintaining your good habits will have far bigger benefits for you in the long-run and you’ll have more energy to tackle those testing days and tricky tasks. You can open that bottle of wine after your run instead.
- Give yourself recognition – We are quick to recognise the achievements of others, but don’t recognise when we do something good ourselves. It’s not a crime to be proud of your own achievements, and where possible you should reward yourself, if only with a small treat.
- Think positive – If you fail, or make a mistake you can either berate yourself, or you can pick yourself up and go again. Keeping a positive outlook on things will influence everything you say and do and you will enjoy life more.
- Forgive yourself – We all make mistakes, that’s how we gain life experience. Stop blaming yourself and resolve not to make the same mistake twice and move on.
- Stop overthinking – It’s great to plan ahead but trying to second guess what’s around the corner will only make you unhappy and fill you full of self-doubt. Take each day, or each task, as it comes.
- Believe in yourself – Part of being kind to yourself is having the faith in your own abilities and judgement. Try to learn to think highly of yourself and believe in yourself.
- Accept yourself for who you are – You have strength and weaknesses like everyone else. You rise and fall, you succeed, and you sometimes fail. Allow yourself to be comfortable with who you are, after all nobody is perfect.
The challenges that mental health poses
According to MIND Charity, approximately 1 in every 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year.
Mental Health is still a broadly misunderstood problem in the working world. This can give rise to ignorance from colleagues and line managers, and to a lack of awareness as to exactly what symptoms we should be aware of before we ourselves seek help.
Even large organisations who operate well-resourced HR departments still struggle to provide the level of support and compassion that people who suffer from mental health problems require. This includes ensuring that staff know the resource is available to them in the first place, and that they can rely on it when need arises.
Other online mental health resources include:
- NHS Mental Health Helplines
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