Prioritise your mental well-being – this will be a long game

Marathon runners, mental well-being

Article provided by Felicity Lerouge, Leadership Development Consultant and Founder, Phenomenal People Ltd.

We have heard in the media, repeatedly, that the effects of COVID-19 on the world is unprecedented.

We have all felt our survival instincts – flight, fight, freeze – kick in, to some degree, as illustrated by panic in the supermarkets (one step away from fight) amongst other irrational behaviour, like the Brits refusing to stop partying on the beach in Spain, after lockdown had been enforced (freeze).

It appears that they are not the only people in freeze mode. Many people are still in denial of the crisis, which isn’t really surprising in our modern world. We are conditioned to trends changing every five minutes and our gratification being instant. Most of us have not lived through ongoing hardship and haven’t had life experiences that enable is to relate to this huge paradigm shift.  On an unconscious level there seems to be an expectation that, “Surely, life will get back to normal in a few weeks?”

We need to wake up to the realisation that this will be a long game. Like myself, you may be confident that you are young enough, fit enough and healthy enough to weather the effects of the virus, should you contract it, but physical resilience is only one challenge that we are facing. Hopefully, a vaccination will be swiftly developed and distributed, so that the pandemic, itself will be curtailed but this is not the only crisis we are going to be experiencing.

The greater shadow of COVID-19 is the ongoing effect it will have on the global economy. While the Chancellor’s announcement of financial support is good for much of the UK, the needs of the self-employed have still not been adequately addressed. The modern workplace has been greatly augmented by freelancers and contractors, as well as thousands of start-up businesses, many of whom have already lost their jobs or are contemplating potential bankruptcy. Even though you may be in a secure position, you will have friends, family, acquaintances who will be facing these challenges. The effects will be felt by you, too.

For even the most optimistic and pragmatic amongst us, it is our mental health that will face the biggest assault, in the coming months, and will need to have strategies and good habits in place to support our well-being.

It will be necessary to approach the unknown future as though we are going to be running a marathon, not a sprint. Hopefully, we have already got good mental health habits in place (good nutrition, sufficient sleep, solution focused mind-set). If not, we will have to develop them on the run.

Thankfully, it’s not too hard to do. Even though part of the fear surrounding the current situation is that it is largely unknown, we will all be able to remember situation where, when our backs were against the wall, we managed to galvanise ourselves into taking the necessary action, to get ourselves out of that tight spot. Human beings are actually incredibly resourceful, when we need to be, and far more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.

That being said, we need to pace ourselves. If we approach this marathon like a series of sprints, we are going to be in trouble. You can wing it once or twice but after that, for the sake of your sanity, you need to get in training.

Resilience during crisis workbook

Support resource for your mental well-being

Because many of us are finding our powers of concentration and focus are not great at the moment (again, typical survival response – being on the lookout for danger, everywhere, creates diffuse focus). With this in mind I have re-worked a programme I wrote for a client on crisis resource management and created a ‘light’ version to support people navigate this pandemic and the months that follow. Its information is easily to relate to and apply. I have made it a workbook, rather than a guide, because working through the exercises will help what you have learned stick. If you can work through it with a colleague or friend and support each other in changing perspectives and behaviour, that will be even more effective.

The three main elements it covers are:

  • Understanding the sequence of stress responses, so we can better prepare for them
  • Managing our reactions and responding to the actions of others during crisis
  • Successful recovery from the psychological and physical effects of crisis

I am offering it to readers of WeAreTheCity, free, if you follow the link to my website, below, and enter the code, mindsupport, you will receive 100 per cent discount:

I hope you find it valuable, so that you can, in turn pay it forward and support those around you who are feeling vulnerable during this challenging time.

Felicity LerougeAbout Felicity

Felicity Lerouge is a Leadership Development Consultant, specialising in personal effectiveness, communication, company culture and employee engagement. Since she founded her company, Phenomenal People Ltd, in 2010, she has worked with clients, such as the Agile Business Consortium, British Airways and Guinness World Records, to support them in developing their leaders, company culture and teams, through consultancy, programme design and facilitation, as well as executive coaching.She is known for her insightful, engaging style, which inspires leaders to reconnect with their passion for their roles, increase their influence and empower their teams. Her leadership insights come from a melange of unconventional environments, where collaborative, self-leadership is more effective than bureaucratic models. She understands what makes teams thrive in rapidly changing environments.

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