At the beginning of the COVID-19 self-isolation, I was pretty pumped to work from home. Images of productivity and focus swirled through my head and I was excited about the opportunity to hunker down at home and wait out the storm so to speak. But it didn’t take long for the social isolation and each cold, cloudy day seems like the last for it to start to affect my mental health.
The strategies I normally had in place to keep me physically active and mentally healthy (the gym, my friends, yoga, etc.) were no longer available and I began to lose my energy, positive attitude and overall motivation. I could feel myself slipping into a rut.
I thought I was doing alright until a co-worker noticed that I was “off” in a virtual meeting and that I didn’t seem like myself. After our Zoom call, she sent me a text asking if I was doing ok? That’s when it occurred to me that I may not be handling this as well as I thought I was.
So I decided to call Humancare. That’s what our WinSport Employee & Family Assistance Program is there for, right? It’s funny though – despite always encouraging my co-workers to call – there was a part of me that hesitated. I thought to myself – I’m not that bad. I can handle this. This service is for people who are really struggling.
Despite my doubts, I called Humanacare anyway and they connected me with a fantastic counsellor. I spoke with her a few times and she was able to not only validate that how I was feeling was normal, but she also helped me identify that working out was an important mental health strategy that if I could just start small, would have me on my way to being myself again.
There is still a lot of stigma around mental health and while there has been lots of work done to normalize the conversation around it – we still have work to do! Remember that when our body is broken or not functioning at 100% we don’t hesitate to seek help from a doctor or physiotherapist. The same goes for our mental health. Sometimes we need support.
Here are my takeaways from this experience:
- Recognize your signs of distress. This is different for everyone. Mine looked like irritability, being impatient with my family, and being unmotivated to do the things I normally like to do.
- Admit you’re not doing well and tell someone. Whether that’s a friend or family member, co-worker, counsellor or a member of your company’s Wellness Team – tell someone.
- Notice when others aren’t doing ok and reach out. It’s because of my teammate that I realized I needed help. This time is hard for everyone and mental health challenges look different for each of us.
- Call your EFAP encourage your colleagues to do the same to restore our mental health.
Kristie Pshyk oversees WinSport’s Workplace Wellness Strategy