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Inside the plow

World Mental Health Day 2022

We set up a #wellbeing channel in Slack back in 2019 and it’s one of our most popular channels to date! It covers all things wellbeing, whether it’s mental, physical, financial or emotional wellbeing. We’ve collected our top mental wellbeing related posts from 2022 and we’d like to share them with you!

How to avoid WFH loneliness

We kicked off the year by discussing how we manage loneliness when working from home. The team had some tip-top suggestions:

  • Create a “virtual office” by calling colleagues or friends
  • Have the radio, a podcast or a livestream on in the background to create the illusion that there are people in the room
  • Set up a room on Spatial Chat, the collaborative online workspace
  • Find a local co-working hub near you and work there for a day or two a week

At Snowplow, we did in fact trial Spatial Chat for a week or so. It was great whilst people were active on the platform, but more often than not, we just forgot it was there.

Alleviating Slack-related stress

It might seem like a tiny, tiny thing, but changing your Slack notification dots from red to green can turn what might feel like an urgent, negative notification to a calming, pleasant one. You can change your theme in Slack Preferences.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had “Knock Brush” as my notification sound pretty much from day one, and it fills me with dread every time I hear it (especially if it’s in an unexpected setting). Keep it fresh and change up your Slack notification sound every now and then. Might I recommend the “hummus” sound?

Maybe even have notifications paused altogether for a couple of hours a day. That’s always an option!

Lastly, some companies prefer “Full and display names” as the default setting on Slack. For some, including those who may struggle with information/ sensory overload, this may be too much information to process when having to quickly scan a list of names. In preferences, under the messages and media tab, Slack allows us to change the setting to “Just display name”. This will only affect the settings for you.

Brain Fog

If you haven’t seen this hilarious, yet little bit naughty clip of Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp not totally understanding the term “Brain fog”, I’d recommend it.

Brain fog is a term for the feeling you get when your brain is a bit fuzzy, your concentration is not at its best, everything’s a bit confusing and you have general mental fatigue. It’s one of many COVID and Long COVID symptoms and one of those things which can be so difficult to shake.

Studies have shown that vitamin B12 can really help with brain fog and it can be found in certain plant milks, eggs, meat, dairy and of course, supplements from your local pharmacy.

Stress Awareness Month

In April, we observed Stress Awareness Month. As a team, we discussed ways to keep stress as minimal as possible.

  • Be honest and open about both your mental health and workload with your manager. If you think you’ve been given an unfair workload or unrealistic deadlines, your manager needs to know.
  • Set boundaries and say “no”. It’s always nice to help out where you can, but sometimes your need to put yourself first. One person asking for a quick 5-minute favour doesn’t seem like much, but as soon as everyone else in your team asks for one, it can really add up.
  • Take a break. You are not tethered to your desk. Have a cup of tea, and take a short walk to get some air.
  • Block time out in your calendar just for yourself so nobody books in meetings with you. Use this time to focus.
  • Take. Time. Off. You’re entitled to holiday, so take some time off. And make sure you turn Slack and email notifications off, too!

What to do when anxiety is winning

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all had a run-in with anxiety at some point in our lives, but what can we do when it completely overwhelms us? Here’s what the team came up with:

  • Seek comfort; seek familiarity! Pop your favourite playlist or film on from your childhood and let the nostalgia comfort you
  • Create boundaries. Say no to working late and say no to picking up extra tasks. Put yourself first for once
  • Write it out. Write a note in your phone about how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling the way you are. Looking back on it can be very validating
  • Call a friend!
  • Keep a list of all of the things you have to look forward to over the next couple of months and read it back to yourself
  • Let it all out. There’s nothing wrong with having a cry, and it usually helps too!
  • Meditation can work wonders; taking 5 minutes to focus on your breathing really helps. Accept that you are feeling anxious and that it’s just temporary and will pass
  • If you work from home, remember to leave the house! The fresh air and exercise will do you good

Menstrual wellbeing at work

Last month we posted a blog post on menstrual wellbeing at work. We discussed how a person with a 9 to 5 job can benefit from their menstrual cycle and how we can support each other in the workplace, as well as how a cycle can be compared to the seasons of the year.

The mensural cycle doesn’t just affect a person’s physical wellbeing, but also their mental, so it’s important we learn how a person can look after themselves throughout the cycle.

Focus at work

This year, the topic of Adult ADHD diagnosis seems to dominate the #wellbeing channel. We’ve all really got to know ourselves during 2022. We’ve recently discussed the best ways to stay focused, not just from an ADHD perspective, but in general.

  • Brain.fm is a music streaming service specifically designed to help focus. Hours of uninterrupted instrumental audio. There’s even an “ADHD” filter too, which filters tracks to accommodate those with attention challenges. There’s a lot of science to back this app and it’s at the top of our list of recommendations!

Managing Seasonal Depression

October rolls around, the days become shorter and shorter and we’re suddenly reminded of that seasonal depression that we always seem to forget each year. Seasonal affective disorder, aptly abbreviated to SAD, is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern.

  • Taking vitamin D supplements may help increase energy levels for some people
  • Trying to get as much sunlight/ time outside as possible during the day will give you a natural source of vitamin D
  • Try out a sunrise/ sunset simulator to wake you up gently in the dark mornings
  • Treat yourself to a short holiday if you can and give yourself something to look forward to in the next couple of months
  • Keep to your workout and fitness routines even if it does feel harder to leave the house

Therapy, counseling & crisis

Our most recent post on #wellbeing actually comes from me! Today I shared 5 ways we can access the help we need:

  • If you’ve ever wanted to pop in to see a therapist in the same way you’d pop in to a hair salon, Self Space might be for you! Self Space have same-day face-to-face or virtual therapy sessions starting from £60. They have physical locations in Shoreditch, Borough and Manchester as well as an online service.
  • Another low-cost option is Headstrong Counselling. Therapies include CBT, Psychodynamic Therapy, Existential Therapy, Person-Centred, Inter-Personal Therapy, Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, Integrative Therapy, and Family/Systemic Therapy. The fees are dependent on your income. Assessments are charged at £30 and the counseling sessions, themselves, range from £15-£25. For individuals with a high income, the sessions are charged at £35 – which is still extremely reasonable!
  • Still a bit too expensive for you and struggling to get therapy on the NHS? I’d personally recommend Mind. A lot of people are familiar with the charity, but did you know they offer 12 weeks of FREE talk therapy? The waiting list isn’t too long and was only a couple of months at the beginning of the year. Sessions can either be remote or there may be the opportunity to do it face-to-face if the availability is there.
  • At Snowplow, we provide an Employee Assistance Programme (Health Assured). We’re given 6 counseling sessions per issue and access to a 24/7 counseling, legal, and information line. Health Assured is aimed at people who are going through a hard time with their mental health. This is not crisis intervention or long-term support, but it is free to all Snowplowers, regardless of location.
  • If you are in the UK and in crisis, you can access support from here on the NHS website. Here is a list of international crisis lines.

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Nicki Faulkner
Nicki Faulkner

Nicki works in engagement & wellbeing at Snowplow and keeps the team feeling happy and connected to the team. Posts include mental health, LGBT+ topics and daily life behind the scenes at Snowplow.

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