As a nation we are famous for a ‘stiff upper lip’, stoic attitude to dealing with a crisis.  Whilst a ‘don’t panic’ approach has its benefits – at times like this it is a strength, not a weakness to seek and ask for support when we need it.

Even for the most robust and resilient of us, extraordinary times like now can make us anxious, cause us to worry more and be unsure of what to do.  We have challenges none of us expected to be facing right now.  Infectious disease outbreaks like Covid-19 can be scary and can affect our mental health.  Social media and 24 hr news can over load us with information, working out the ‘fake news’ and criminal scams can make us more anxious not less.

Start by confining your news sources to trusted and reputable providers.  News sources with no axe to grind and that genuinely want to inform and help – Government, NHS and Local Authority sites are usually up to date and accurate.  The First Base blog, Newsletters and benefits portal (if you have access) are a good place to include in your search for useful information.

Be practical, be proactive

Despite the challenges, there are a lot of practical things we can do.  Being proactive and ‘doing’ is a powerful mental health and wellbeing tool whatever our situation.  Whether you end up on ‘furlough’, find yourself working at home, job seeking, in a new role or concerned about keeping your job; here are some tips to help you and your family through difficult times.

The Government is telling us to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or to work where we can’t reasonably work at home.  This means many of us will be spending more time at home and will be unable to participate in our normal social activities.  For those of us who have been through national crises before one of the things we have learned is that  it helps if we see the current situation as one of those time life sends us something different to deal with.  For most of us it may be inconvenient but it won’t be a bad time and there are often new opportunities as a result of enforced change.

It means changing our usual way of life, maybe new ways of communicating.  Some of us are learning to use social media and video conferencing, some of us how to use the phone to actually speak to people!

Anxiety 

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and perhaps fearful at the thought of attending an interview, starting a new job, giving a presentation, sitting an exam or taking a driving test.

In turn, worrying can affect our sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. If everything goes well, the anxiety will naturally go away.  This type of short-term anxiety can be useful. Feeling nervous before an interview or presentation can make us feel more alert and improve our performance.

However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm us, our ability to concentrate and do well may suffer.  If the anxiety stays at a high level for a long time, we may feel that it is difficult to deal with everyday life.  The anxiety may become severe; leaving us feeling powerless or out of control.  Sometimes, if the feelings overwhelm us, we may experience a panic attack.

A panic attack is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, rapid breathing and so on.   Panic attacks come on very quickly, symptoms usually peaking within 10 minutes, with most lasting between 5 and 20 minutes.   For some people they seem to come without warning and strike at random.

Managing anxiety

Reducing stress, keeping active, eating a well-balanced diet and getting the right amount of sleep really helps to get anxiety under control.  Stay in touch with family and friends on social media but don’t overdo the sharing of ‘bad’ news.  There’s still plenty of good news out there if you look for it. Hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbours have already volunteered to help support the most vulnerable people affected by the virus, there are thousands of acts of random kindness occurring and thousands of new jobs are being announced almost daily.

Don’t make assumptions that ‘bad’ things will happen, positive outcomes for most are more likely in reality if we follow guidance, look after ourselves and look after our families.

Without face-to-face contact with our friends, family, and coworkers, many of us are checking our phones constantly, handling an influx of social media posts, texts, and news alerts.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it’s time to put your phone in another room, turn off automatic news alerts, and limit how much time you spend mindlessly checking and scrolling.

Sources of help

If you are feeling a bit more anxious than usual right now, that’s normal. If you already work with First Base (as a temp or full time) you have access to a range of professional and free support services through the Hive Portal.

The portal provides access to a vast range of free health, welfare and money savings benefits including:

• ‘My Personal Doctor’ for 24-hour access to an NHS approved GP, via telephone and Skype consultation, plus email prescriptions.
• My health’ for health, fitness and diet advice and resources, plus great savings on gym clubs.
• ‘My personal Helpline’ for 24/7 telephone access to professional counsellors to help with stress, debt, marriage and drug abuse issues.
• ‘My discount outlet’ offering great high street retail, dining and mobile contract saving
• ‘My Pay & Pension’ – delivers and stores encrypted and GDPR safe digital payslips and access to personal pension performance
• ‘My insurance’ for great discounts on insurance providers.

(If you are an employer and want to know more about how to provide your temporary staff with Hive benefits give us a call).

Other sources:

Well being
https://mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus
Current advice from the NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Latest news from Public Health England (PHE)
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england
Latest news from the Government
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Coronavirus Q&A from the World Health Organisation
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
Latest advice on social distancing/isolation from the Government
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

The First Base team is here to support our temps, candidates and clients through these challenging times – and when we come out the other side.  Call us, email us Facebook or Tweet us!