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Looking after your mental health as we return to work after the COVID-19 lockdown
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on how we interact with others and how we go about our lives and work. A combination of stress and uncertainty can have a significant and wide-reaching impact on mental wellbeing.
The Ministry of Health says it's normal not to feel OK all of the time – it's understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry during the crisis. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find COVID-19 more challenging than others. The ways people think, feel and behave are likely to change over time – we all have good days and bad days.
Recognise your emotions and take time to stay focused on the here and the now.
Here are a few things to consider:
Properly manage your stress and wellbeing by:
exercising - it only takes 15 - 30 minutes a day to feel the benefits
get enough rest and time-out during the day
eat healthy foods
- stay in contact with family and friends
Watch for changes in behaviour
You or a workmate may be exhibiting changes in behaviour. Consider whether these are one-off incidences, or is it happening more often than usual? Changes could include:
Being angry or agitated
Becoming isolated and not wanting to talk
Using alcohol or drugs as a way of coping
Being distant and not replying to messages
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
Not washing or looking unkempt
Struggling to concentrate
- Struggling to finish work
Remember, support is available
If you or a workmate is exhibiting this type of behaviour, support is available. Perhaps talk to someone you trust at work or a friend or family member. There is also a wide range of support available in the community including MATES in Construction, a free, confidential service.
Contact MATES in Construction on 0800 111 315 or text 5353 at any time.
What can employers do?
Now, more than ever, clear communication is essential. Employers should:
Make mental health part of the conversation, and normalise the discussion
- Know their workers and look out for any changes in behaviour
Proactively support workers who say they need help
- If you have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), make sure your workers know it's available