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Do you fear freedom? Post-Covid workforce is on brink of ‘psychological tsunami’ says mental wealth expert

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Companies face a ‘tsunami of mental health issues’ unless they do more to support employees going back to offices, says a leading business expert.

For many a return will be a chance to socialise, rekindle relationships and catch-up at the watercooler.

But for others fear of freedom may severely impact self-esteem and confidence levels.

Returning to offices will be like starting school again for the first time, says business expert and executive coach, Mike Pagan.

But there are tips you can follow to improve your mental ‘wealth’, he explains.

Mike specialises in productivity and workplace wellbeing. He says: “Self-reported depression rates increased five-fold during the pandemic.

“Britain’s workforce is in real danger of a psychological tsunami if employers do not cultivate a supportive and nurturing culture.

“When you work or perform solely as an individual you risk a great deal of introspection, procrastination and faffing about not actually doing what needs to be done to achieve your goals.

“And that is assuming that there are clear goals set in place in the first place.”

Two tribes: Furlough v working through

Mike believes 18 months of continual uncertainty has impacted workers and teams more than many companies realise.

“There will be employees who’ve been furloughed for a long period of time, who are coming back into a working environment that they haven’t seen.

“There will be employees in that environment, who have worked non-stop throughout the whole of the Covid pandemic. And they’ll be tired.

“So, you’re going to have these two different extremes of employees, some who have had time away, some who have had no time away.

“Add into that the melting pot of new staff who’ve been interviewed via Zoom, but have never actually met anyone in the company.”

How good is your mental wealth?

Mike, who has been advising businesses, employees and even professional athletes for 25 years, says increasing mental wealth is the key to transforming workplaces.

“In business as in life, we all need the support of others to be successful. We cannot succeed on our own. Having the right support network makes all the difference.

“Mental wealth is a combination of mental health balanced with support, wellbeing, fitness, health, nutrition and diet.

“So many of us forget or neglect to look after ourselves and this makes us less wealthy.

“Isolation kills creativity and prevents decision making, which has a direct effect on your mental wealth. Extended lockdowns and quarantine have all taken their toll.”

How to go back to work without fear

Mike Pagan’s self-care tips to overcome anxiety:

  • Prioritise yourself: Don’t allow yourself to be an afterthought. Respect what you need emotionally, mentally, physically and personally. If you’re not number one in your world how can you help others.
  • Balance: Rest and exercise, sleep and activity. Learn what the different balance points are for you and enjoy them. When you go too far in one direction, recover, re-balance and move forwards again.
  • Decision making: Not everyone is good at this; seek support to help make decisions. This will then clear the mind and allow you to move forward.
  • Seek inspiration: Learn from others’ stories about what they have achieved through adversity, or against the odds to find your own path.
  • Opportunities are everywhere: Take the time to look around you and find them, be that through social media, within teams or just talking to others.
  • Relax: Using breathing exercises or meditation will put you in control of your thoughts and energy.
  • Be a weekend warrior: Choose activities away from work, with friends or family, that challenge you mentally and physically. This will bring lifetime memories of success and overcoming challenges.

For more wellbeing tips, see Mike Pagan’s blog.