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Coping with Depression

Depression: Finding your own path to solid ground

We can all experience times when we feel low and our spirits are down, but this doesn’t mean we are depressed. Depression is a low mood that persists or recurs regularly and interferes with everyday life. 

Depression affects every individual differently and has a knock-on effect on our personal lives as well as our work. However, being proactive and seeking support and treatment can make a significant difference to how we cope. 

For a lot of us the ongoing pandemic has impacted on workloads, financial worries, health issues as well as general stresses and worries and many people are understandably feeling overwhelmed, unsure of the future and what to do. You may be reading this blog because either you or someone you know is suffering increased anxiety and depression.

If you are depressed, you may feel tearful or irritable, have a sense of worthlessness, a lack of confidence or focus and just not be able to enjoy things you previously found enjoyable. Your sleep patterns and appetite may change, and you may feel tired all the time. These physical and mental symptoms can be extremely distressing.

The good news is there are things you can do right now to help change the situation:

Ideas for starting to deal with depression

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. This could be a friend, a family member or a work colleague. Ask them for support.
  • Consider contacting your GP for advice and clinical support. 
  • Self-refer to your NHS Talking Therapies (IAPT). You can find your local Talking Therapies Service on-line
  • Contact us at People at Work to discuss what support we can offer.
  • Practice self-care; eat well and try and get enough sleep/rest.
  • Try exercise and get outdoors in nature wherever and whenever possible.
  • Keep a mood diary to help pinpoint positive and negative triggers.
  • Try mindfulness or yoga.
  • Plan little things you enjoy.
  • Be kind to yourself and don’t apply pressure or self-expectations. If something feels too much at the moment, let it go.
  • Try and focus on a few tasks per day rather than becoming overwhelmed with a long to-do list.
  • Celebrate any achievement, however small – all the “small wins” add up over time.
  • Avoid drug/alcohol misuse.
  • Please remember if your depression is so severe that you don’t feel you want to go on then there are people who can help immediately; call the Samaritans on166 123 OR text SHOUT to 85258; dial 999 OR go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department immediately

Useful contacts:

  • People at Work – login to “My EAP” via your organisation’s website or call us on 020 3286 1545 http://www.peopleatwork.co.uk/(available 24/7)
  • Samaritans – National charity offering 24-hour support for distressed and suicidal people https://www.samaritans.orgor call 166 123 any time, day or night.
  • Text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 text-based support

Coping with work-based stress

This job would be easy if it wasn’t for all the stress!

Work can sometimes be a stressful environment. Dealing with challenging situations and individuals, often with conflicting demands and needs can cause stress to build up. You might be feeling pressured or unsupported and your confidence might be low. You might feel that your workload is too much and that your work (and health) is suffering. If this sounds like you, then read on for some practical ideas to help reduce work-place stress.

Ideas for dealing with work-placed stress

We all face periods of difficulty at work. A certain amount of stress can usually be absorbed and may actually help us to perform well in challenging situations. However, ongoing chronic stress can reduce our ability to cope and our resilience, leading to a drop in performance and potential issues with our physical and/or mental health.

We are all responsible for thinking about and managing our own stress levels. Being proactive about our stress management is essential to maintain our mental wellbeing. So, what can we do to try and alleviate ongoing stress?

At work:

  • Talk to your manager (or their manager if they are part of the issue) about workload, professional relationships, training needs and work/life balance? Think about practical, realistic solutions to the issues that will benefit yourself and the team you work in.
  • Try to take regular breaks, ideally away from your desk.
  • Have a “shut-down” procedure for the end of the day, to help you leave work behind when you go home; switch your computer off, make a list of tasks for the following day, clear your desk etc.
  • Acknowledge your own feelings as valid, but also appreciate that you cannot control how others behave, only how you react to them.
  • Talk to Occupational Health and/or Human Resources.

Outside of work:

  • Make sure you eat regularly and healthily.
  • Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.
  • Try and exercise regularly. Exercise has been proven to reduce the level of stress hormones in our bodies and help us sleep better.
  • Consider mindfulness or meditation as a means to calm the mind, soothe the body and be present in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future.
  • Do things that you enjoy with family, friends or by yourself.
  • Consider volunteering as this has been shown to promote feel-good hormones and improve your mental wellbeing.

Useful Contacts: 

  • People at Work – login to “My EAP” via your organisation’s website or call us on 020 3286 1545 (available 24/7) http://www.peopleatwork.co.uk/

Managing anxiety around coronavirus (updated December 2020)

Here is some updated advice for anyone feeling anxious about the continuing pandemic;

Information about coronavirus is still everywhere in the media and as lockdown number 2 ends we enter into the new tiered system and effective vaccines are on the horizon it’s worth reflecting on how life has changed for us. There is still likely to be anxiety around our physical wellbeing and that of our family, friends and colleagues; the virus hasn’t gone away and isn’t likely to. We may have known individuals who have been affected or even lost their lives to the virus. We are also now feeling the prolonged pressure of the economic impact of the pandemic and we may have also been trying to work from home, home-school children or support teenagers or elderly family and friends through lockdown, cancelled exams and other worries. The holidays this season may not be the same as normal and you may not be able to see loved ones in person. All these factors can have a major effect on our mental health and our ability to cope.

Look at the things you CAN do, rather than what you can’t.

Check what IS allowed in your current Tier and make plans to maximise the safest opportunities to get together in person or remotely with family and friends. Get outside as much as you can to walk and exercise, grab a take-away coffee and enjoy the winter scenery. The “rule of six” applies in all three Tiers to outside spaces such as parks, beaches and the countryside so meeting up with a small group for a brisk walk, run or cycle is allowable as long as all social distancing rules are followed. If you can’t meet up in person, plan an online get together or a phone call to stay connected. It can really help to focus on what we do have rather than on what we don’t; a grateful mindset helps us cope when things are not as we would wish them to be.

Still be mindful

When we are anxious our minds tend to run out of control, worrying about things that have happened and things that might happen. Instead, it can be really helpful to stop and just focus on the present which allows our minds to stop whirring out of control; The NHS Every Mind Matters websitehas lots of techniques you can try. Mindfulness applications such as Headspace and Calm are also available on mobile devices and provide guided or self-guided meditation exercises.

Look after your own wellbeing

Take steps to ensure you are sleeping and eating well, exercising where possible and practicable. There are lots of online exercise and yoga videos you can do in your own home.

MINDhas good advice on how to care for your mental health should you be required to self-isolate or we return to more stringent Covid controls in the future.

This advice includes

  • How to find the right, safe place to stay
  • How to eat well and stay hydrated
  • Keep taking your medication
  • Continue accessing treatment and support if possible
  • Take care of your immediate environment
  • What to do if you have care needs or provide care to someone else
  • How to plan for continued working or studying at home
  • How to find ways to spend your time and keep your mind stimulated

Useful links and sources

People at Work – https://www.peopleatwork.co.uk/my-eap/login

NHS England –https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

NHS Every Mind Matters – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/anxiety/#custom-2column-share-shelf

UK Government – https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Tree of Self Care: Friday – Managing Work Stress

Managing Work Stress

So, our world of work has been turned upside down!  Whether you are a frontline member of staff, are having to remote work or know you will soon be called back into work, you will be faced with new challenges and demands. Now, more than ever, keeping those work and home boundaries will be tested.  Follow our blog here to pick up tips and good practice …

So, here are some tips to help us maintain our work wellbeing and the challenges we are facing today.


Tips on remote working

e are all discovering there are benefits from working from home.  Once our IT niggles are sorted out, gone is the stressful commute, the pressures of making sure we are on-time and perhaps the annoying factors in our normal work environment.

If we are not to replace one work-based stress with another work-at-home stress, then here are some tips on keeping our remote working organised.

  • Set up a designated workspace where you can focus on work without being distracted
  • Keep your workday structured and set your core work hours – think about planned breaks; may be a To Do list will also help
  • Keep connected to your team; contribute to on-line meetings
  • Ask for support when you need it; continue to have conversations with your manager
  • Resist the temptation to be ‘always on’.  Keep work things and home things boundaried.

For more tips on remote working, how to manage your team on remote working and tips for online meetings click here

Going back into the workplace

This applies currently only to businesses in England and also whether your organisation is encouraging you to return to work.  What might you need to think about?  Communication is going to be key; discuss with your manager how things will be organised including

  • Infection Control and cleaning
  • Social distancing
  • Arrangements re visitors or customers
  • What transport arrangements are possible and safe for you
  • How your work hours could be arranged or shift patterns
  • Risk assessments undertaken for the return

If you have any concerns or suggestions, then bring these forward.  Think about whether any home arrangements will need to change.

If you would like to know more about the government guidelines to employers for your industry sector here are the government guidelines on Working Safely during Covid-19

You can always discuss this with People at Work, your EAP, on 020 3286 1545

Balancing work and home pressures

You may be in a front-line role or a role which has become more pressured or overwhelming with COVID19 demands.  The strategies for managing stress at work remain.  They may be harder to apply or feel unrealistic; do what you can and what works for you.  Here are a few strategies to consider.  There are many more that might be right for you.  People at Work, your EAP and Counselling Service is there to support you at any time.

  • Keep your work tasks and home tasks boundaried.  Resist the temptation to be ‘always on’.
  • Ask for support when you need it.  Keep communicating and be clear about what is possible
  • Don’t neglect your personal wellbeing – maintain a schedule which allows you to do exercise, eat well, keep a reasonable sleep pattern and remain connected to your social networks
  • Use Mindfulness techniques to refocus your thoughts and take time to relax

People at Work, your EAP and Counselling Service, can support you to put strategies in place or to talk through any issues you are experiencing.  020 3286 1545

Tree of Self Care: Thursday – Steps to improving our wellbeing

Steps to improving our wellbeing

The building blocks of good wellbeing are about staying connected, keeping active, appreciating the world around us, giving acts of kindness, keeping learning and being creative and looking after our health.  Of course, in todays ‘new normal’ the ways we choose to do this have changed.  Follow our blog and suggestions …

Here are some suggestions on looking after our wellbeing.  Under the restrictions of this Coronavirus outbreak some ideas about looking after yourself may feel unrealistic. Make the changes that are possible and do what works for you!


Look after your physical health

Try and eat well, plan activities and exercise that suits you, manage your sleep pattern.  If you are staying at home or self-isolating, keeping to a schedule can help you keep these things on track.

Practice moments of kindness and appreciate the good things in your life

Reach out to people with moments of kindness – it does wonders for our own feeling of wellbeing.  Remind yourself of the things that give you happiness and hope; notice the world around you.  There are many Apps online to help you – here’s some examples:

Keep Learning and Be Creative

Learning new things can help refocus our thoughts, give us something else to think about.  Being creative can be a great way to relax.  Give yourself time to reconnect with that side of you.  Here is a link with ideas about getting creative

(Please note, any regional events will not be taking place due to the restriction in place).


Talk to us at People at Work, we can partner you to make the changes. 020 3286 1545

Tree of Self-Care: Wednesday – Relationships

Relationships

Maintaining good relationships with our partner, our family, our friends can at times be difficult but certainly helps our wellbeing.  Having our normal routines disrupted, as they are in these times, puts more pressure on our skills.  Follow our blog on tips to make relationships easier …

So, here are some tips to help us look after our relationships and remind us that sometimes they can become strained because of things happening around us.


Stay in touch

Stay connected to friends and family.  If you are distanced from them use the phone, online video whatever helps sharing conversations and good thoughts. Make it creative; use different ideas – pictures, sayings, quizzes – whatever works for you.

Maintain your relationship with your partner at home

Your routines will likely have changed, talk regularly about how this is working.  You may have different coping strategies – respect these.  Practice acts of kindness, they make us feel good as well as our partner.

Big conversations may well have to be put on hold

Or arguments put to one side and truces agreed.  You will be able to return to your discussions but now is the time to work together to keep a good balance.


There is a wealth of advice and guidance on the Relate website.

If you are in an abusive or controlling relationship, please seek more help here

Talk to us at People at Work, we can partner you to make the changes. 020 3286 1545

Tree of Self-Care: Tuesday – Anxiety & Worry

Anxiety & Worry

When we are feeling anxious our thoughts can run out of control, things can get out of proportion and the same worries can go around and round in our head.  Follow our blog on ways to calm and refocus your thoughts and give yourself some peace …

Here are a couple of strategies you might like to try.  Making these sorts of changes to the way we think is not as easy as it sounds.  Keep practising, take small steps and congratulate yourself for taking up the challenge.


Recognise that ruminating over things can take us nowhere. 

Often when anxiety and worry start to overwhelm us, we lose the ability to manage our thoughts.  We can fixate on things we cannot change, things we cannot control or try to find solutions at times when we can’t take action – such as during the night.

Talking and sharing with people can help us put things into perspective and maybe manage things we cannot change.  

Keep a worry book or diary. 

Control those unhelpful thoughts.  Perhaps give a certain time each day to think about them but don’t let them take over your every waking hour.  Some people find it helpful to write them down and then by closing the book to leave those thoughts alone.  

Learn to refocus your thoughts. 

Find a way to take time away from difficult thoughts.  Make time to relax – be creative or active.  Try Mindfulness.   

Here is a Mindfulness App you could use with free meditations and there are many other free apps that can help you calm your thoughts.


The NHS website Every Mind Matters has lots of techniques you can try.

Talk to us at People at Work, we can partner you to make the changes. 020 3286 1545

Tree of Self-Care: Monday – Low Mood

Low Mood

When our mood is low it can be harder to do things, and everything can seem less worthwhile. Perhaps we are challenged more in these ‘new normal’ times.

Make the effort to keep talking to those around you, keep connected.

Here are a couple of strategies you might like to try.  Making these sorts of changes to the way we think is not as easy as it sounds.  Keep practising, take small steps and congratulate yourself for taking up the challenge.


Change the glasses through which you view your world. When we are low we have a tendency to only see the negative things and discount the positive.  Pinpoint and value those good things in your day to day life.  Can you find three things to appreciate every day?  Here are links to free apps that might help get you started   There are many more on-line.

Keep networked. Take time to talk and share.  Your network probably spans home and work, don’t shut yourself off from those people. Talking takes us out of ourselves and helps to stop that vicious circle of internal ruminating.

Take time for yourself. It’s good to relax and refocus.  Do things that you enjoy.  Take up something creative or active that will help refocus your thoughts.


These are just a few strategies, follow this link to find out more about managing low mood:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/self-care/ – collapse35bf9

Talk to us at People at Work, we can partner you to make the changes. 020 3286 1545


Managing anxiety around coronavirus

Here is some advice bringing together trusted and expert sources for anyone feeling anxious or overwhelmed about coronavirus;

Information about coronavirus is everywhere in the media and the immediate focus is understandably on keeping people physically well and preventing further spread of the virus. However, the anxiety caused by concerns about our wellbeing and that of our loved ones, the potential impact on our jobs and income, concerns about restrictions and shortages can also have a detrimental effect on our mental wellbeing. A constant stream of news, internet and social media posts can make our anxieties worse as well as risking us accessing incorrect or misleading information. 

Do you need constant access to news and social media?

If a constant stream of news is making you anxious then think about limiting how much time you spend on social media or reading, listening or watching the news. If you feel you need to know what is going on, then you may want to think about the reliability of where you are getting your information from. Is it a trusted and reliable source or is it sensationalising and scaremongering?  Trusted news sources include the NHS and the Government

Be mindful

When we are anxious our minds tend to run out of control, worrying about things that have happened and things that might happen. Instead, it can be really helpful to stop and just focus on the present which allows our minds to stop whirring out of control; The NHS Every Mind Matters website has lots of techniques you can try. Mindfulness applications such as Headspace and Calm are also available on mobile devices and provide guided or self-guided meditation exercises.

Look after your own wellbeing

Take steps to ensure you are sleeping and eating well, exercising where possible and practicable. There are lots of online exercise and yoga videos you can do in your own home.

MIND has good advice on how to care for your mental health should you be required to self-isolate or the government move to restricting people’s movements.

This advice includes

  • Find the right place to stay
  • Eat well and stay hydrated
  • Keep taking your medication
  • Continue accessing treatment and support if possible
  • Take care of your immediate environment
  • If you have care needs or provide care to someone else
  • Plan for working or studying at home
  • Find ways to spend your time and keep your mind stimulated
  • If you’re feeling claustrophobic or trapped

Useful links and sources

People at Work – https://www.peopleatwork.co.uk/my-eap/login

NHS England – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

NHS Every Mind Matters – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/anxiety/#custom-2column-share-shelf

UK Government – https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-advice-to-support-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak

Mindfulness

Mindfulness originated in Buddhism and as such it’s part of a much wider set of beliefs. In recent years the concept has moved across from the religious context and become a secular concept as more people have become interested in it and appreciated it’s value in our hectic world.

Martha Langley, author of Mindfulness Made Easy, says Mindfulness is a way of learning to live with yourself and the world you find yourself in.

What does it mean to be mindful?

Continue reading Mindfulness