[Updated] 8 ways to manage you and your team’s mental health during Covid-19
I would imagine you and your beauty therapy team’s coping strategies and levels of resilience are declining as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on your mental health.
The daily struggles we’re currently facing are impacting on both our mental and physical health because we have absolutely no control over the outcome. I mean, you’re probably all exhausted already, believing 2021 would be better than 2020.
Unfortunately, for many at the moment the internal narrative could be one of fear, helplessness, desperation and exhaustion, and while the new way of being for some has brought with it a change in pace and easing of some pressures, how do you manage your own mental wellbeing and that of your team while the future is still so unknown?
These feelings are transitory – living in the past – and rumination (i.e. overthinking or repeated thinking) creates depressive symptoms, and worrying about the future creates anxiety. But, learning and practising the art of mindfulness will encourage living in the present. It’s such a positive starting point but it does takes practice – and a lot of it.
Without question, having a sense of purpose when your life has ground to a halt will give you a reason to wake up and get on with your day. I imagine a sense of belonging may feel challenging right now as so much of who you are intrinsically is linked and defined by your beauty business. By implementing small daily habits and rituals you can really make a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Below, I've outlined some practical techniques that you can use as a blueprint to enhance your own mental health and that of your beauty therapy team who may also be struggling during this time.
In aid of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 10–16), here are 8 ways to manage you and your team’s mental health during coronavirus:
Be mindful about what you’re feeding your body with as there is a direct link between the gut and the brain axis – the two feed each other. With the correct nutritional support and guidance you can directly treat your own mental health through diet, see clinical nutritionist Angela Beecroft or registered associate nutritionist Laila Charlesworth websites for guidance.
Also, make a pledge that you will take regular breaks throughout the working day.
As humans, we are 70% water, so drinking water regularly each day brings clarity to cognitive function. It is scientifically proven that a lack of water creates frustration, which in turn impacts on your mental health. Buy yourself a water bottle and attach a positive affirmation on it as a daily reminder – for example, “I respect my body and mind and nurture it through healthy eating and hydration” or “my body and mind deserve to be taken care of”.
You want to aim to drink six to eight glasses of water per day. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells, aids digestion and normalises blood pressure.
Keeping physically active encourages the stimulation of happy hormones such as serotonin. If your space at home is restricted, be creative with the space you occupy and schedule in “you time”. Often the idea of exercise, unless it’s already a thing for you, can seem a little overwhelming. However, when working out at home, there’s no chance of “gym anxiety” kicking in.
Start off with something like yoga with teacher Adreine Michler or give the Couch to 5K app a try, and then build on it.
You need access to the sun daily, not only because of the powerful benefits of vitamin D linked to better sleep, increased pain management and better mood. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a direct result of limited daylight hours. Mood lights such as Lumie products increase absorption of vitamin D when sunlight is in short supply, so if this is you, invest in some.
Remember, it’s about having everything in moderation. If you know you rely on certain products to “get you through” a challenging day – i.e. rewards – be mindful of moderation in consumption. For example, excessive consumption of caffeine can exacerbate anxiety.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends you only have 400 mg of caffeine per day, which is approximately four cups. Your alcohol units for the week should also be no more than 14.
Try to get outside into the fresh air as much as you can. If you can’t then open windows while putting on an extra layer of clothing for warmth. Oxygen that cleanses the blood is pumped into the brain, so exposure to the elements ensures that you have the cleanest, healthiest blood pumping around your body, and this will support your mental health.
Give yourself permission to take regular breaks to reset during this time of increased stress and anxiety. Meditation is proven to increase immunity, reduce depression and even help to manage your weight, so take adequate time off from all stimulus of the news and managing your business from home to “just be”.
At your salon or spa you have created an environment for clients to rest and relax, and you actively encourage this process, so make this agreement to yourself too.
It’s believed that building a tribe of people or a collective community that you choose to belong, to use as a support system, can add up to 14 years to your life, says Dan Banos, senior psychologist, UQ lecturer (Medicine) and principal psychologist at Newstart Psychology & Counselling.
We all need a sense of belonging and a purpose to feel connected without judgement. Respect yourself and those around you and choose your community wisely, filling it with people in the same boat as you and use it as a space to set our clear intentions for moving forward.
The Low Ears group, which I founded, provides industry endorsed mental health, first aid education and training, mentoring and coaching. We provide exceptionally trained nutritional practitioners to offer guidance and support to beauty professionals who are struggling with their mental health. For help during this crisis please contact us.
Sam Pearce is founder of Low Ears – an initiative aiming to safeguard the mental welfare of the beauty industry. She was also previously the owner of the multi award-winning The Potting Shed Spa.