At Perlo, we’ve always put a focus on safety and wellness. This focus is embedded in our culture and it’s what makes us a leader in the construction industry. While physical health is obviously important, so is mental health. This aspect of health tends to be talked about a lot less, especially in our line of work. The reality is that our mental health has a massive impact on our daily lives in terms of how we view things and how we interact with the world.
Most people will go through periods when they think “I’m not really okay.” Besides diagnosable mental health disorders (of which almost half of all US adults will suffer in their lifetime), it’s totally normal to feel down, challenged, or out of sorts from time to time. Especially when things are as uncertain as they are now.
The impact of coronavirus.
Coronavirus introduces challenges most of us never thought we’d have to face. It’s natural that each of us will react differently during this period of crisis. Covid-19 has unquestionably upended our routines. We aren’t able to socialize as usual or engage in our regular activities. Many of us might suddenly be thrust in a position of having to homeschool kids while juggling our work.
Fear is common. We might worry about the future, about finances, or about our health or the health of family members. We might feel anxious about going out of our house.
Wherever each of us are at, know that it’s normal to experience stress, anxiety, or even grief. This is a time of major change and by nature, as humans we depend on our routines. A pandemic can turn things upside down and make us feel out of control, because, frankly, a lot of things are out of our control.
Ways to take care of ourselves.
There are never easy or “one-size-fits-all” answers, but there are tried and true ways that experts recommend for keeping a steady mental keel.
Paying attention to our physical health.
Our physical and mental health go hand in hand. Eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep are obvious – but incredibly important for keeping our minds healthy.
Routines can make a big difference. For example, we can try setting alarms to remind ourselves to take meal breaks or to take walks during the day. We can even set an alarm to remind ourselves of when to go to bed. For workers who are in the field, consider taking advantage of healthy food delivery options. (At Perlo, we’ve been providing weekly lunches for our onsite teams.) Whether we’re working from home or in the field, we can all try to squeeze in “micro breaks” to stretch or do some kind of exercise – it all counts!
Finding out the facts.
A recent World Economic Forum article makes an excellent point: facts minimize fear. Getting the facts from trusted sources, such as the CDC or WHO, can make a big difference in soothing our anxieties.
Through this pandemic, scary headlines are everywhere. While it’s important to be informed, it’s also important to not overdose and try to read every recent news article. That can just ramp up our anxiety level. Sometimes it’s helpful to remind ourselves of the things we do have control over, such as keeping our social distance and wearing a mask in public vs. the things we don’t have control over, such as when a vaccine will be available.
Maintaining social connections is a critical ingredient to good mental health. Social isolation can lead to a host of mental disease, including PTSD and depression. But staying social is definitely a challenge in our Covid-19 reality! Here are ways we can stay connected with others:
- Use newer technology to connect with family and friends. Tools such as Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype are great for video chats.
- Use older technology. Good old-fashioned phone calls are a great way to stay in touch.
- Socialize at a safe distance. We can still have conversations with neighbors, friends, or co-workers as long as we maintain a six-foot distance.
Engaging in activities and hobbies is also a great way to keep our minds at ease. This might be the time to finish a house project, plant a garden bed, read a good book, or watch some movies in the Hulu queue. Some of us have found that this is great time to experiment with new recipes with our spouse or kids.
Knowing when to ask for help.
Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, things can feel overwhelming. When we feel caught in a downward spiral, that’s the time to ask for help. Here are the common signs to look for.
- Experiencing an inability to cope with problems or with daily activities
- Experiencing prolonged feelings of sadness, depression, or apathy
- Experiencing excessive anxiety
- Feeling disconnected or withdrawn from usual activities
- Experiencing excessive anger or hostility
- Experiencing mood swings
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or others
For any of us experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s time to get professional help. (And remember: there’s no stigma in reaching out for help!) Here are some resources to try:
- Primary care provider. Our primary care docs are a great source for professional recommendations.
- Employee Assistance Program. Most larger employers, including Perlo, offer mental health assistance for employees and their families.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline. Calling 1-800-985-5990 connects you with a trained crisis counselor.
It’s important to remember that as devastating as the coronavirus is, it is temporary, and we will get through this. Sometimes just re-framing how we look at things can help us cope.
At Perlo, we’ll continue to be here for both the physical and mental health of our people and our community. Together, we are #PerloStrong.