Dan's tips for lockdown wellbeing
This #ShineaLight week we're focussing on the importance of maintaining mental wellbeing during these trying times. Today Dan Revel-Wiseman, head of operations at care and support providers Look Ahead, gives his top tips for staying strong in lockdown.
As an operational head of supported housing for those with a mental health diagnosis, I am more familiar than most with the struggle of mental health illness. In this time of global crisis, I am sure we can all relate to the pressures of lockdown: home working, home schooling and lack of physical contact with family and friends.
Housing is a resilient sector. It has faced many challenges over the last decade, has always weathered the storm, and risen to whatever it has faced. I have seen first-hand that the sector is doing exactly that now. Adapting and changing to meet the challenge head-on. All front-line staff, whatever job you do, are all heroes. More than ever I have seen compassion, empathy and humanity at its very best; you can all be very proud, and it has been truly humbling.
Unlike any other crisis in living memory, Covid-19 has impacted everyone and everything. There has been no escaping its reach. This disease has been a leveller in many ways, and it is essential to manage your own mental health and well-being during this time of crisis.
In a time when many are working from home or furloughed, trying to keep a structure and routine, as best you can, is key to managing your mental health. I have been making sure I go to bed and wake up at my usual time, taking some time before work to wake up, have breakfast, and do the usual morning routine. There has even been the odd occasion when exercise has featured (albeit fleetingly!). I count myself very lucky to have dogs and live in the Hertfordshire countryside, so we have been spoilt for choice on our walks.
Separating your workspace from your living space is great if you can. If like me you don’t have the space for a home office, just a chair at the table with your laptop can do the trick.
Regular breaks away from your screen are essential, taking some time for you and making sure you take a lunch break are all good practice. It can be all too tempting to let your work overrun into your evening. Manage the end of your working day.
The most important thing is to be aware of how you are feeling and try to find the positives in the situation, as this can have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being.
Positives for me have been regular contact with friends and family via Zoom or House Party, even connecting with some friends who I haven’t spoken to in a while. I have actually enjoyed sharing more about my personal life with colleagues. My team have seen most parts of my house, particularly my pets! I think that this can only be a good thing.
Each weekend, I have set myself a task to complete. These have ranged from clearing out the bathroom cabinet to replacing the kitchen tap. These long-term small jobs have had a positive impact on my mental health, giving me a sense of achievement.
My job requires me to understand the national picture of this crisis, whether it is PPE, deaths, or social-care impact. However, I have tried to factor in the news as part of my working day. I don’t feel it is healthy to have a constant barrage of bad news and therefore during my down time I try not to watch - although this is admittedly difficult.
Everyone will have struggled with something in lockdown, and I think the best thing you can do is not be hard on yourself. Times are tough, and you need to give yourself a break. If you watch a whole box set, trash on Netflix all day or do nothing at all, that’s fine too.
I can promise one thing: the housing sector and the rest of the country and you will come through this, and we will all bounce back together.
Until we can see each other in person, stay strong, stay safe and take care.
Check out this week's mental-wellbeing events here.