May is Mental Health Awareness Month. That, combined with the start of Spring in some parts of the world, has made me reflect on all that’s happened at REPL over the last year. Joining forces with Accenture, the introduction of mental health first aiders, goodness knows how many Teams calls and 203 new members of the REPL family.
203 new people in the REPL family. That’s 203 people who, mostly, none of us have met in person. No coffee in the kitchen in the Henley office, no grabbing 5 minutes to introduce ourselves when we’re in the Warwick office and no drinks after work when we’re working in London. It’s a really strange feeling for a self confessed people person. And while this month marks a milestone for many places in the UK opening up a little more, there are still areas where restrictions remain in place in the UK, places in the world where covid isn’t starting to recede a little.
You may be excited about seeing friends and family, in person, over the coming weeks or you may feel apprehensive. Both are normal! It’s so important to acknowledge your feelings and be kind to yourself, it’s been a long, difficult year. Remember the support structures you have in place at work. If you are struggling, talk to your line manager, they can help or direct you to one of our mental health first aiders. I can personally recommend the employee assistance programme (EAP). I have used their services this year and found them to be empathetic, insightful and kind. I didn’t feel particularly broken when I contacted them, just in need of a little perspective. I got that and so much more, they’re really helpful.
If you are feeling nervous about going out and seeing people, that’s totally fine. Pace yourself. You don’t need to do it all, today, tomorrow or this week. People will understand. Share how you’re feeling, it’s all normal.
Try and focus on the present. It’s so easy to get caught in a negative loop, following the news and social media. As I’m typing this, I have the door to my office open and I can hear the birds, it’s great for bringing me back into the present when my thoughts start to race because there’s so much going on. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness month is nature. Getting outside, listening to the birds, even looking out the window, all have a calming effect. Moving my desk so I can look out of the window has been a game changer, I definitely think better when I’m looking at trees and the sky!
Another way to manage the change we’re going through is to set yourself small goals and then reward yourself when you meet them. For example when you have finished a complex piece of work, reward yourself with a walk to pick up a nice coffee. A diary that’s back to back with no breaks isn’t good at all, try and leave slots for lunch and some spells outside, even If they’re brief. It makes a huge difference.
If negative feelings are becoming more common, try and reframe the way you think about your day. Rather than saying ‘I have to walk the dog today, I’m so busy’ I change it to ‘I get to walk the dog today, I’ll make the time and get away from my desk’. It makes me feel differently about the thing I’m doing and more grateful that I am able to do it.
We should shine a light on our mental health all year, not just during Mental Health Awareness month. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that this time will pass, but it will. Using some of the hints and tips here or those that we ‘ve spoken about before will help. In the meantime, if you need any help, support or just want to talk about it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.