Associate Director (Health) at Edelman London, Ishtar Schneider, has shared her story on how she’s been coping during the lockdown – from ways she’s improved her mental health to what advice she would give to others.
1. How have you been coping?
I think everyone has good days and bad days. I was used to working from home at least one day a week but somehow when it’s mandated all day everyday it can feel suffocating. But I feel lucky that I have a garden I can spend time in, housemates to keep me company in iso and I’ve been able to stay healthy, as have my friends and family. Working in global health you really understand the impact something like COVID-19 can have – so I’m trying to be thankful in the down moments instead.
2. Tell us one thing you have done that has improved your mental health?
I’m actually really loving getting the time I would be spending on my commute back. I’m making a conscious effort to go for a long walk or a run and explore parts of the neighborhood I’ve never been in before. It’s really changed my perception of quality time – rather than rushing “to” somewhere I’m enjoying having no set destination and taking the long way to get there. Plus when the weather is as nice as it’s been it’s hard not to feel more uplifted after spending some time outside.
3. What advice would you give others?
It’s ok to do nothing sometimes. As someone who is constantly doing 10 things I have actually found the move to completely virtual work AND social engagements super draining which surprised me. As weeks pass I’ve learned that it’s ok to say no and spend some time outside sitting in the sun or just watching Netflix with a block of chocolate (hello Tiger King/Unorthodox fans).
4. What advice would you give employers looking to improve employee wellbeing?
Keep trying different things! Not everyone is going to be into Zoom yoga, or want to share their baking tips with the team but some will. Not everyone will join each week, but having the option to is really nice so if you can offer different opportunities to engage in non-work activities digitally I think go for it! I did a “ready, steady, cook” virtual competition recently which was fantastic. I also think employees really appreciate regular touchpoints from senior and other team members (so an official or unofficial check in “tree” can really help people stay connected to each other and help flag if team members are struggling.
PRCA Mental health toolkit
We are acutely aware of the increasing pressures facing public relations professionals as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is vital that PR professionals take the necessary measures to protect their mental wellbeing during this period. Line managers should proactively check in on the wellbeing of their colleagues. PR practitioners should make use of the PRCA's Mental Health Toolkit, which includes a counselling hotline during this period.