By Andy Salkeld

I’ve been saying this a lot lately and here is no different. We’re all feeling this! We’re all struggling with lockdown and how it has changed our lives. It doesn’t matter if we’re an employee or an employer, our lives have changed, and that change is scary.

But that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be struggling. It would be great if I could just put down a few things on this page, saying “do this and all will be okay.” Sadly, mental health and wellbeing don’t work like that.

Lockdown has only brought employee wellbeing and mental health to the forefront of discussions, but these are things that should be done always, regardless of lockdown or not. You’ll also be really pleased to know that they all cost absolutely nothing. At the end of the day, this is all just about people helping people; and all that requires is time.

The most important part of wellbeing is communication. Not just with those around you but also with yourself. For once in our lives we have been forced to pause for thought and many of us are finding ourselves spending more time with ourselves than we’re probably comfortable with! This is a time to reflect and to discover. There’s going to be a lot of emotions and feelings flowing through you. Take some of the time to listen to yourself and what’s going on internally.

The change that has happened is scary. It is frightening. But one of the most important things I’ve learned – and it comes from a song – is that “the frightened fall as often yet far closer than the brave.” Being frightened and scared isn’t always a weakness and being tough and brave isn’t always a strength. Being vulnerable and sharing that vulnerability with people around you builds trust and compassion.

If you want to be a leader during these times, embracing your vulnerability and showing it will help encourage your teams to feel that they can show and share their vulnerability too. From this, honest and open communication will follow, and everyone involved can start on a journey towards better wellbeing overall.

Throughout this, through lockdown and beyond, acceptance is one of the most valuable things you can find in life. Sadly, it is also one of the hardest things to find. People are going to be struggling. People are going to be finding life hard. You need to be accepting that these things happen just as much as they need to be accepting that they are happening. There will be times when people don’t want to socialise on a video call and just need time to themselves. There will be times when they can’t work at full capacity because their lives and work have collided in a way they weren’t prepared for. We all must be able to say the following:

“It’s not what I wanted. It’s not what I planned. It’s not where I thought I’d be. It’s just where I am.” These words saved me and brought me back from my darkest days. They are how I define acceptance; to be able to let go of the ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’, to stop worrying about the past and stop planning for the future. By letting go of these we found ourselves in the present, in the moment. Life is lived in the present!

Be respectful of other’s feelings. We all deal with things in our own way. We are all brilliantly beautiful in our own way. Stop measuring and comparing and start living and embracing life.

It would have been easy to list some bullet points here, but you’ll have heard them all before. What I hopefully leave you with is a way to embrace and enjoy life anew.

Whilst lockdown has changed a lot of what life was, the future really is ours to shape and we can choose to grow from it and become more.