Looking after our mental health at Afea
With everything that’s been going on with lockdowns and isolation, many of us have found it challenging to prioritise our mental health.
Maybe you’re busier, you have more caring responsibilities than normal and you don’t have time to prioritise yourself? Or perhaps the social isolation and loneliness have made you feel unmotivated to try anything new?
It’s important that we work on our mental health as often as we can. Good mental health is how we cope with these life stressors and take part in our community.
October is Mental Health Month, and the theme is ‘Look after your mental health, Australia’.
Our People and Culture Manager Joseph Assad explains how Afea has been prioritising mental health throughout this lockdown.
He also shares our 12-day challenge that everyone can try to help improve mental health.
We all need connection
At Afea, looking after our mental health is a big part of our culture. We’re very passionate about supporting our team to have good mental health and we try to provide as many tools as possible to help them.
We’ve stepped it up a notch over the past few months of lockdown. We’ve introduced lots of new programs to help support our Afea staff who are working from home.
We’ve had online yoga and Zumba training sessions, a STEPtember challenge and even a virtual Taronga Zoo tour.
However, our most popular idea was something a little different – we gave everyone a $20 Uber Eats voucher.
It wasn’t so much about giving everyone a day off cooking (although that was certainly appreciated!). It was more about our teams relaxing and sharing a lunch together.
Our team in lockdown is stuck at home and isolated from each other. They are socially distant in all senses of the word.
By giving a simple voucher it allowed everyone the opportunity to forget about work. They could sit back, relax and interact in the way they ordinarily would in the office.
Connecting with our friends and colleagues is an integral way of working on our mental health.
We’re learning about resilience
Resilience is being able to cope with tough times and it’s something we’ve all needed a bit more of over the past 18 months.
We wanted to make sure our staff had the resilience skills they needed to cope with the current situation and any other future challenges that come their way.
There are lots of ways to strengthen resilience, so we set up team training sessions that focused on how we were facing some challenges that we were experiencing.
It gave us all an opportunity to have an open discussion with the people they work closely with.
Our 12-day challenge for mental health
Another initiative that proved to be a great success was our daily challenges. These were challenges posed by our Learning and Development Specialist to help us try different things.
We shared how we were going in our company intranet portal – Employment Hero. It was a wonderful chance for us to understand a bit more of each other’s lives and share how we’re really doing.
Here is the 12-day mental health challenge if you’d like to give it a try.
Monday Day 1: Meditation challenge
Whether it’s one minute or 60 minutes, it doesn’t matter how long you meditate for. Starting the habit is the important bit.
You could try an app like Smiling Mind to give you some pointers.
Tuesday Day 2: Digital detox
This can be tough, but today’s challenge is to reduce your reliance on your phone or other devices. Try to stay off your phone all day or just turn it off for an hour before bed.
Wednesday Day 3: Swap a Netflix binge for a book binge
You might just want to substitute one episode for a bit of reading or swap your entire night of TV for a good book.
Thursday Day 4: Exercise… your mind
Challenge your mind with a mind puzzle. Whether it’s a crossword, Sudoku or even Tetris, today is about giving your brain some exercise.
Friday Day 5: Push up challenge
The push-up challenge shouldn’t be about beating other people. It’s all about beating your best. Get an extra push up in each time you try.
Saturday and Sunday Day 6 & 7: Cookie challenge
No matter whether they’re healthy or unhealthy, the challenge is to create your best batch of cookies. Cook with your kids, your partner, roommates, or just enjoy some time cooking solo.
Monday Day 8: Share your inspiration
Share with your colleagues where you turn to when you need some inspiration. It could be an influential leader, an entrepreneur, sportsperson, or some other leader in your life. There is no right or wrong.
Tuesday Day 9: Sleep
Go to bed one hour earlier tonight. You may not fall asleep right away, but it will give you a chance to wind down and relax.
Wednesday Day 10: Let’s get walking
The challenge is to take a 10-15 break and go for a walk around your block, up and down your street or in the park. Whatever works for you.
Thursday Day 11: Share what keeps you motivated
In lockdown, we often have to be creative to keep our routine going. Share your tips on how you stay motivated with your colleagues.
Friday Day 12: Share your WFH life
Share a photo or create a meme that represents Work from Home or lockdown life for you.
Working on our mental health is ongoing
What we realised from our team lunch date, resilience training and 12 Day Challenge is that we need to work on our mental health every day.
We all need to make the effort to stay connected with each other. We need to give ourselves the time and space to think about what makes us feel happy, healthy and inspired.
If you’re finding it hard to work on your mental health, it might help to talk to a professional. Chat to your GP or contact one of these organisations for some support:
- Beyond Blue — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
- Black Dog Institute — online help
- Lifeline — call 13 11 14 or chat online
- Suicide Call Back Service — call 1300 659 467