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Covid 19 – Causes an increase in worker Anxiety

Covid 19 causes an increase in worker Anxiety

As a committee member of the HR and L&D professionals networking group HR Connect Over Coffee, we have been preparing some wonderful sessions and resources for Mental Health Awareness Week .

The HR Connect Over Coffee community has been built to offer HR and L&D professionals within the local Peterborough Community the chance to meet, network plus share experiences and resources.

In this community we want to actively promote the inclusiveness of everyone within the HR and L&D industry, regardless of whether you are employed, self-employed, student or director, everyone is welcome!

You can find out more about the group’s upcoming events here. Click this link.

Our recent Mental Health Survey

HR Connect recently surveyed our network members on how their workplaces are being affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic.  The results of the survey are clear that there is very much an increased concern that Covid-19 is having an impact on the Mental Health of our workforce. 90% of respondents answered yes to Covid-19 impacting workplace Mental Health and 10% were unsure.

Furthermore within the responses, elevated Anxiety really stood out as a key feature too.

What is Anxiety?

According to the NHS ‘Every Mind Matters‘ Website, ‘Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like a worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.’ The information goes on to explain that, we ALL feel anxious from time to time and it is a perfectly natural feeling that once a certain situation or event passes the feeling of anxiety does too.

Anxiety effects everyone differently and our experience and triggers of anxiety will vary individually too. Physical effects of anxiety can include; heart racing, shaky or short of breath.  Behavioural effects of anxiety can include becoming overly careful or avoidance of the causes of anxiety.  Emotional effects can be  restlessness, irritability, feeling ‘on edge’, feelings of dread and panic.

Overall, anxiety can leave us feeling fatigued, it may cause sleep difficulties, difficulty concentrating or recalling information too.

It is important to realise that everyday Anxiety is common, and we should expect to feel anxious from time to time.   It is a normal part of life to experience occasional Anxiety.  If you experience Anxiety that is persistent, over-whelming or seems uncontrollable it can be disabling.  If Anxiety is interfering with everyday activities it may be there is a disorder and professional help should be sought from your GP who can support you further.

Anxiety comes in different forms

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD); is a long-term condition that can make you feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

Social Anxiety; when people are fearful of being criticised, humiliated or embarrassed in everyday situations like work, or socialising.

Phobias; which come in many forms.  However there is a particualar fear of an object or situation that leads to avoidance.

Panic Attacks; which is usually a combination of intense, overwhelming, or uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, combined with physical symptoms like chest pain, dizziness or shortness of breath.

OCD; is when anxieties are relieved by carrying certain behaviours or rituals.

PTSD; can occur following a traumatic event. Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, flashbacks and disturbed sleep.

(The above conditions are outlined for illustrative purposes, we recommend further reading and guidance on the NHS website.)

Why is Covid-19 elevating Anxiety in people? 

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a particularly stressful event for everyone.  It has caused a situation on a previously unprecedented level.

The pandemic has threatened our personal and our loved ones physical health.  This is particularly frightening and can lead to elevated stress and anxiety too.

The pandemic has significantly interrupted our lifestyles and working patterns too.  This could lead to increased anxiety.

There has been significant financial impact and uncertainty for many.  With threat to the economy and business has created uncertainty for job security as well as financial instability.

There has been additional pressure on parents due to having to manage their own childcare.  Elevated costs potentially from food and eating at home.

Our exposure to physical threat, through shopping and exposure to others and trying to maintain social distancing.

The national media has also played a huge part in our lives.  It is in their interests to increase viewing and attention in the way the news is reported and many outlets do that through spreading fear.  It is vital to ensure our consumption of factual news reporting rather than sensationalised headlines.

Many people have spent much more time online and on social media too.  It can be very difficult to manage and reduce our exposure to information and content consumption when online.

Overall there has been a great deal of uncertainty and change too.  It is very possible this will have an impact on us.  It is also likely to cause us challenges as we approach a phased return to work with so much to juggle too.

Finally the possibility and ways of our colleagues and friends being impacted by the Covid-19 through loss of loved ones, strained relationships.  Difficult and uncertain financial situations.  The list of potential impact is endless, but nonetheless hugely significant to our well-being as humans.

Managing Anxiety

As I have mentioned above the impact of Covid-19 is boundless.  There is no silver bullet to overcome all the varied challenges we will face, personally, physically, emotionally, financially and economically.  However, there are some ideas on how to manage anxiety.

Recognise your feelings; Anxiety isn’t a result of failure or weakness.  How you feel is a result of causes and triggers.  Anxiety is natural and Anxiety disorders are medical conditions.  Seek help if you need it.

Be kind to yourself and others; Routine can be helpful for anxiety and making space for self-care can really support your well-being. Doing simple tasks to create positive feelings of accomplishment and control can help elevate your feelings too.   Help and support others by giving your time.  Talking and listening with supportive friends can help.

Self-care; Sleep, nutrition and exercise are vital elements for our health.  Getting enough sleep will provide your body and mind proper recuperation.  Eating healthily will help regulate your feelings and well-being too.  Finally exercise will help keep you active and help relax you too.  Great exercises include, yoga, meditation, walking.  As well as breathing exercises too to help regulate your feelings.

If you need help seek further guidance from the NHS via their website, 111 or your GP.

Anxiety in your Workplace

Managing anxiety in the workplace and supporting colleagues is challenging to implement effectively in any business.

There are a range of training and awareness solutions for business and leaders.  Training and investment in developing your people as well as line managers and supervisors to increase understanding of their teams challenges will pay dividends for you as an organisation.  The impact of poor mental health overall will negatively impact business performance.  It can lead to absence, reduced productivity and staff retention.  All of which ultimately costs your business financially.  Your people and your culture is always your best investment.

For more information on how I can help please do get in touch.  As a PTSD sufferer, I am passionate about raising awareness of Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders and Mental Health Awareness overall.  At Flagship we have a suite of training solutions and I love to speak and share my experiences with your team too.