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Meet Sanctus, the “personal trainers” for the mind

22 May 2020

This week, 18-24 May, is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK.

So we’re sharing a few ideas from a company that has provided support to many of our staff here at Octopus.

Sanctus is on a mission to improve mental health in the workplace and provides one-to-one coaching sessions for employees that give people a space to talk. It’s all about maintaining good mental health practices on an ongoing basis, just as many people do with physical health by exercising regularly.

The company works with over 60 businesses, including Octopus, and has offices in both the UK and internationally. Octopus employees report valuable benefits from using the service, which has become an integral part of our company-wide mental wellbeing programme.

Some use coaching sessions to chat about work, family life, relationships or whatever else that they want to discuss. And even for those who haven’t yet used the service, it’s a comfort to know that support is there should they need it.

We asked Sanctus to share some tips on maintaining good mental health during these challenging times.

There’s no one size fits all, but these ideas might be useful for yourself, your business, and even your clients.

1. Whatever you’re feeling is normal

Heightened feelings of anxiety, fear, panic, uncertainty, you name it, are all expected given what’s going on. This is a new situation for everyone, and one that we don’t have any answers to. It’s bound to cause some upset to your mental wellbeing.

Valentina Passoni is one of the Head Coaches at Sanctus. Through her one-to-one virtual sessions, she’s been providing a safe space for people to connect to themselves and to their feelings during this uncertain time.

In doing so, Valentina says she’s recognised the importance of opening up herself about the effect that the outbreak is having on her own wellbeing, and that it’s perfectly normal to be feeling out of sorts.

“Sanctus supervision and my own support network has seen a lot more of me lately! It would have felt somewhat strange to encourage people to talk about their experiences without also inviting myself to do the same.”

2. Try to keep up healthy habits

Keeping good hygiene, getting your eight hours of sleep, exercising and eating properly might seem like obvious suggestions, but they’re all tried-and-tested ways to keep your physical and mental wellbeing in check.

“There’s no need to stray from healthy daily habits which apply all year round. As far as you can, stick to the usual routines that you know are good for you.”

Of course, balance is important. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to work out, eat well and get the right amount of sleep every day.

“One day I might go for a long walk somewhere and enjoy being in nature, the next I might watch Netflix all day,” Valentina says. “And that is OK. I’m learning to truly embrace the meaning of self-care, and to treat myself with the same kindness I would offer my clients.”

3. Don’t overdo it when it comes to the news

There are lots of sensationalist headlines out there that are aimed at selling papers, not informing the public.

The team at Sanctus suggest following recommended guidelines and reliable sources such as the NHS, GOV and World Health Organisation websites.

It’s better to stay clued up on how you can stay safe and healthy, rather than getting into a downward spiral of misinformation and fearmongering, which can quickly become overwhelming.

4. Stay connected with loved ones

If you’re working remotely, feeling lonely, or are just a little anxious about everything, touching base with loved ones can help to restore calm and add a sense of normality to your day.

There’s no shortage of communication platforms these days, and at a time like this they have really come into their own. Whether it’s through social media, video conferencing platforms, or a good old-fashioned phone call, check in with those you care about.

For those working from home, having virtual catch-ups with team members is a good way of looking out for each other.

Sanctus tell us they have a daily tea-time break to see how everyone’s doing. Seeing real human faces, or just hearing real voices over group calls can do wonders for your sense of connection.

5. Celebrate the small wins

If you find you’re not at your most productive right now, you won’t be the only one.

Feelings of not accomplishing enough may be heightened during lockdown for some – especially for those trying to juggle parenting, home schooling and working – so it’s important to recognise the things you have managed to achieve.

Filling the day with a few small wins will help give a feeling that it’s been productive.

And of course, despite everything going on, a little light relief won’t go amiss.

“It sort of feels like one really long rainy day at the moment, so think about ways you can build fun into your day. It’s a good opportunity to pick up an old hobby or try something new,” George from the team says.

“The positive mental benefits of getting stuck into a new activity can be significant, especially at a time like this. Equally, if you can’t find the energy or motivation to do so, don’t be too hard on yourself – do what feels right for you.”

6. Put your health first 

George sums up by saying the best piece of advice he can offer is to put yourself and your health first.

“It’s a crazy time right now for all of us. Pay attention to your body, your mental health and your needs, and make adjustments where needed. Your health is more important than any project or meeting you have booked in.”

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Resources you (or someone you know) may find useful

Sanctus is part of the wider mental wellbeing programme at Octopus.

Here are some of the other services we’ve partnered with:

  • Shout, a 24/7 crisis support service accessed by text
  • Headspace, an app full of meditation sessions
  • Cognacity, who run workshops on topics such as handling stress at work and dealing with burnout
  • Parent Cloud, an online service supporting new and expecting parents

For more mental health ideas from Sanctus, read their blog site here.

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sanctus
mental health week
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