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Keep connecting - in a different way

connecting (cropped)

It's hard to know where to start in such unprecedented times, but one thing is clear: it's not just physical health of the nation that is currently facing a challenge.

The coronavirus pandemic has set into motion a once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances which has left us all reeling. It's not just the obvious concern for your health, and the health of your loved ones. We humans are social animals, and for many of us this sense of isolation, anxiety and loss of control over our usual day to day lives will be very hard indeed to deal with.

The last week or so has seen an unprecedented shift to home and remote working on a scale not previously imagined. Our usual social lives, sports and hobbies have been put on hold. Throw into that mix children home from school for an extended and unknown period, an absolute bun fight (pardon the pun) every time you attempt to go grocery shopping, and you have the kind of perfect storm that is leaving people feeling understandably overwhelmed.

What is the impact of Covid-19 and the associated periods of isolation on our mental health?

The lack of usual structure in our lives will leave many people flailing. We spend so much of our time at work and socialising that it will feel quite alien for our worlds to have shrunk so much.

There is also the economic threat to our wellbeing, from those in the sector whose livelihoods are tied up in the retail and hospitality industry to small businesses who may be facing a serious fight to survive, which in turn causes a great deal of stress and anxiety for the future.

It's vital that people keep talking and keep connecting, even if that is in a slightly different way to our usual interaction.

If you find yourself working remotely from your colleagues for the first time, communication will probably feel a bit different. As well as the important taking care of business - and adapting to new ways of working - try and bring some humanity into communicating with each other, as it will be the small talk and the usual office banter that people will miss most. Think about using an instant chat platform purely for social chat between your team. Take time to pick up the phone rather than send an email. Ask your colleagues, your friends and family, if they're OK, whether they have any worries - just checking in on that human level is so important.

You'll be used to having video conferencing for meetings, but what about extending that for a purely social chat? Some of the LionHeart team dialled in for a virtual lunch break this week: we chatted about completely random things, and found it really gave people a lift.

While staying connected on social media will help you keep in touch and informed, if you are feeling anxious it might be wise to limit the time you spend scrolling through your news feeds. Recognise that not everything you read is true: use trusted brands as your source.

It's important to recognise that this strange time will have an impact on your mental health. Feelings like anger, fear or anxiety are normal and should be acknowledged. If you already struggle with anxiety, stress or depression, or have done in the past, this might trigger some of those feelings.

If you are worried about your mental health then think about seeking help and talking to a professional. At LionHeart, we are operating all of our usual support services, including counselling, and a helpline for RICS professionals who have concerns and may be affected by the current crisis. We have a highly trained and experienced support team who can help and, in some cases, can offer financial support to those experiencing hardship.

In these difficult times, you do not have to carry a problem alone.

  • Contact the helpline 0800 009 2960
  • Email the support team and someone will get back in touch

Juliet Smithson is head of operations at LionHeart. This blog was first published by our mental health partners EG.

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