Recent research from LinkedIn (Workforce Confidence Index – Sept20) highlights the impact that COVID-19 is having on the stress levels of both employees and their leaders. 56% say the global pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, with 41% experiencing higher levels of stress and 37% finding it more difficult to switch off from work. Those figures are concerning, but hardly surprising. Working with organisation leaders I am hearing firsthand of the stresses and strains people are under. With longer working hours (often at home), higher workloads, more exhausting online meetings and more projects than ever before, people are struggling to create boundaries and end up working morning, noon and night. With shorter darker days on their way, and the pandemic ramping up again, many are feeling the pressure and are exhausted.
This is concerning news for everyone, and bad news for business. The bottom line is, we perform better when we’re in a positive mental and emotional state. We are more effective, we make better decisions, we are better problem solvers, we are more innovative, and overall performance improves significantly when our mind is in positive, rather than negative/stress, or even just in neutral. We all want to be in that space, the performance zone. And yet right now, many are in survival mode or even burnout.
So here’s the thing. If you want to be able to perform, feel good, be productive, tick things off the To-Do list, and generally feel happier in your work and in your life; you need to spend more time in relaxation. What helps you to relax? How can you move out of high energy and into low energy more often during the day, but still stay in positive emotions for the most part? It is by coming down regularly into relaxation that we re-charge, which in turn allows us to go back into the higher energy performance state. Taking time to relax isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a necessity. When we come into that calmer state, our mind relaxes and opens up; our immune system is boosted, our energy begins to rise again, we can think more clearly and make more effective decisions. And yet most people keep on keeping on, working harder and longer with their powerful mind becoming more like a blunt instrument, ineffective, taking longer to do tasks and unable to see the wood from the trees.
Take some time today to reflect on your current state. How have you been feeling? Are you one of the many who are struggling? If you are too far down the slippery slope of burnout and mental exhaustion, then you may need to ask for help, get some support: everybody needs help sometimes. But if you’re surviving, just not feeling good, ask yourself: what one thing could I do that will make the biggest difference to my day-to-day life and wellbeing? Create time to breathe, make space for your sanity, stand up and stretch, get some fresh air, speak to a friend, practice meditation, take regular exercise, get outdoors, reduce your alcohol intake…there are many different action steps we could take, but what one thing will make the biggest difference in your life? Start with just one thing, and do it today. And tomorrow. And then keep going, until it becomes part of your lifestyle. Let me know how you get on, and reach out if you need support.
If you want to check her latest Livestream on Facebook on “Managing Mental Health for you and for your Teams” click here.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can mind your mental and emotional state and stay well through COVID-19, if you are a woman in leadership and would like to build resilience and stretch your potential as a leader, then click here for more information on Niamh’s program ‘Looking After the Leaders’. The program is sold out for 2020 but you can check the information and get into the waiting list for 2021.