The year 2020 will remain in the memories of people as the time the world came face to face with a pandemic. Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and play and we remain, to this day, uncertain about how the future will look.
Many people in large companies or government departments have been asked to work from home and, at the start of the pandemic, transitioned smoothly into a new routine.
Who hasn’t appeared at a Zoom meeting dressed perfectly from the waist up but wearing active or lounge wear and possibly slippers on their bottom half?
It was fun and unknown and things seemed to be going well.
As time has progressed, however, feelings of isolation and dislocation may have crept in along with the fear of wondering if a return to the workplace will ever be possible or even desired. Lack of motivation may have kicked in as goals set for 2020 evaporated along with cancelled holidays, karaoke, and hugging friends.
As State borders have slammed shut the sense of living in a bubble has increased as we have become cut off from friends, families and colleagues.
We have apps on our phones and a hotline to websites that will give up up-to-date information about hotspots, number of cases and, tragically, the number of deaths. Covid-19 dominates the news channels we watch and listen to at home and in our car and across the width and breadth of Australia.
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, WORRY AND A SENSE OF LOSS, ARE ALL SIDE-EFFECTS OF COVID-19
While you may not have had Covid-19, there are other side-effects that many of us may be experiencing due to stress, anxiety, and isolation.
- When the sympathetic nervous system – our alert system that prepares us to do battle or flee – has been switched ‘on’ for weeks or months, this results in high cortisol levels.
- Cortisol is diabolical for brain neurons because our alert system is designed for short, sharp physical activity – to escape or fight – and is not designed to be ‘on’ all the time.
- Brain fog, poor memory, and inability to prioritise or make decisions are all part of high levels of cortisol in the brain.
- People may feel restless, distracted, numb, anxious and/or reactive.
The effects are felt in the workplace too. Recent studies by Accenture Research show that:
- A high proportion of employees struggle with mental health, and are not receiving enough support from their organisation.
- About 45% of employees say anxiety or depression is hurting their productivity in the office—at least on occasion—while nearly 1 in 5 employees (18%) say that anxiety or depression interferes with their work all of the time or often.
Encouraging news is that organisations can become more sustainable employers and support their employees to take care of their mental health.
- Settling down the sympathetic nervous system and, in doing so, activating the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest, soothe, digest and calm system – is often the first step in improving memory, decision making and prioritising.
- Educating and empowering employees with practical skills, strategies and tools to support physical, mental health and emotional wellbeing benefits employers and employees alike.
At the start of the pandemic, Quest cancelled all residential programs and moved swiftly into the online space. Since March 2020, our facilitators have delivered programs to employees in councils, government department, associations and guilds. These programs have taken the form of one-on-one wellbeing talks with employees which then lead to group sessions about self-care and resilience during difficult times.
HOW QUEST FOR LIFE CAN HELP
Quest provides training workshops to organisations to support and inspire mental health and emotional wellbeing of employees. Programs can be tailored to suit objectives and budget and delivered online or face-to-face.