Month: December 2020

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 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)

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 –

NHS England –


NHS Every Mind Matters –

UK Government –