Stress Awareness Month Arrives With Perfect Timing A Year On From The Pandemic
As I write this article, nearly 12 months into the first lockdown anniversary, our ability to cope with the seismic shifts within our everyday lives, our priorities, and our daily structure has been stripped bare. As a result, society has begun to embrace the truth that it is okay to not be okay.
While living and working in our ‘virtual world, we have come to realise that non-verbal signals and ‘reading between the lines’ is a whole new skillset we are learning on the go. We have opened ourselves to each other to speak and share about how we are doing, we check in and we want to hear about others, and we understand that the best way to navigate is through the strength of each other.
This is one of the few positives of the last 12 months but as we see some green shoots for a return to physical socialisation, we also appreciate from our experiences of the pandemic is that this is not going to be a straightforward path and no doubt, there will be twists and turns as we move forward to this new phase. It has been clearly explained by the politicians that this will be a slow process and the question is not ‘how to return to a pre-pandemic world’ but rather how we find balance in our new reality where we have the virtual and physical worlds combining.
Alongside this, the business environment is taking its own journey, as we look towards what the recovery will look like. We start to appreciate that the future is not based solely on the pandemic world, nor is it solely on political decisions such as Brexit, but these alongside many other micro and macro socio-economic circumstances are what determine our business and economic recovery.
The last 12 months have not been easy, but we haven’t had a choice and as such we have welcomed it as a semblance of control when we are all out of control. However, what comes next is the hardest part.
We have spent a prolonged period in an uncertain, isolated world. Stress, anxiety, and mental health illnesses have spiked. We need to understand the uncertainty and challenging times that lie before us, both personally and professionally, are not going away in the short term. We need to take the lessons, take our experiences, and take our strength forward to become ingrained within us as individuals and as a society. Businesses need to understand that their employees need to be educated and helped ongoing not return to a position where focus is on their productivity and deliverables.
And as such, I welcome Stress Awareness Month and the timing of it. It gives us a chance to look beyond dealing with the day to day of the world we find ourselves in but rather to think strategically about how we exist, how we embrace and enjoy the world we are in. It gives us a chance to understand that dealing with our mental health while in extreme circumstances is one situation but continuing to focus on our mental health as the heightened anxiety recedes and semblances of calm returns is as critical, if not more critical for individuals and businesses.
Mental health has been at the forefront of our conscious and subconscious states over the last twelve months. Businesses have stepped up like never before in supporting their staff, both as they realise that individuals are being experiencing times like never before but also as they understand that in the remote virtual world, in order to maintain productivity and positivity, they need to support their teams. The challenge now for a business is to ensure the work they have put in around the support of mental health and stress levels becomes embedded in their organisation, continues to develop and ensures the people within the business have the tools and feel supported to thrive as we navigate through the coming times.
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