This year, the Men’s Health Forum’s theme for Men’s Health Week is Take Action on Covid-19. Naturally, this global pandemic has affected millions of us, but today we check in with David, Frank and Russell, who share some insights into their personal journey and experiences during these unusual times.
Firstly gents, thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to chat. Between you, you work within Customer Services and Finance, so given the current climate, this must be a particularly stressful time for you right now? How are you all doing?
David: Doing great actually.
Frank: It’s going up and down, I have very good days and very bad days.
Russell: It has been very busy over the last few months. The increased work comes in bursts but overall doing well.
And how has the novelty of working from home, vs reality? Have you found it much harder, or much easier than you expected?
David: I love working from home and I actually find it a lot less stressful as I’m not commuting. It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Frank: I generally love working from home and have not missed the daily commute into the office at all. I have two cats who are very happy about my company as well! The only thing I miss is the office community which only to a certain extent can be reproduced via Zoom or other video chats.
Russell: I have always loved working from home and over the years have spent a good portion of time working from home. I can be far more productive. I am fortunate to be able to work outdoors which helps with concentration and thinking time. I do miss some of the time doing other activities on the train and seeing people in the office and general background chatter but there are some great background tracks available on your favourite music streaming services.
Do you feel that your mental health has been impacted, either positively, or negatively since lockdown and if so, how?
David: I miss socialising with friends after work however generally it’s had a positive impact as it’s made me slow down.
Frank: My mental health has gone up and down over the past 12 weeks. I have very good but also very bad days. It took me very long to develop a routine at home which is now my foundation for a positive start into the day. I went back on antidepressants for a while too.
Russell: Overall, it’s had a positive effect. There have been times where it has been a struggle. Being an outdoor activities person, spending so much time indoors has been difficult. So, I have spent the time going back to things I haven’t done for a while, playing the guitar, I love a jigsaw puzzle and card games are great ways to relax.
What positive steps have you taken (if any) to support your mental health during this time?
David: A LOT more faceTiming with friends and family…I’m lucky enough to have a garden and plenty of open space near me so spend a lot of time outside.
Frank: I live in a flatshare without a garden so I have started taking longer and longer walks. FaceTime and Zoom are ok as long as I talk to no more than 2 people as I find group Zoom calls difficult to handle due to the sheer amount of people on small screens.
Russell: I speak to my friends and family more. My family is spread over the world so we try to have group video calls to see how everyone is getting on.
Many people have reported that they feel more tired than usual – have you noticed any unusual physical changes such as this? How have you been able to keep to maintain your physical health?
David: Ha ha…I’ve put on SO much weight!!! I’m power walking most mornings now to try and lose it! I’m not more tired however, my body clock has regulated itself, I fall asleep easier and wake up without an alarm. I regularly have at least 7 ½ hours sleep each night if not 8 hours. There is the odd night where I wake at silly ‘o’clock in the morning but that’s not often.
Frank: I usually go to the gym between 3 – 5 times a week. This is one of my coping mechanisms for depression. I have taken to walking and rollerblading in the meantime but that still does not replace a visit to the gym. I have taken to intermediate fasting which has helped a lot preventing me from going out of shape too badly. I also only drink alcohol socially so, besides on my birthday, I’ve pretty much not touched a drink for 12 weeks.
Russell: I have always had a lot of energy and this hasn’t changed, so I have to make sure I stay active to avoid not wanting to sleep and the inevitable crankiness that follows. Fortunately, I already own many fitness items so I didn’t have to try and scour the internet for leftovers. I try to do a little throughout the day which also helps break up sitting for long periods. The one thing I have noticed is through sitting more it’s been harder to maintain flexibility and good posture. I take 5 mins every hour to take a break from the screen and use it to stretch, or do a few reps. I go for a walk / run / skate every morning and evening.
What tips or advice would you give any of your male colleagues who may be feeling the strain at this time?
David: Oh that’s hard to say as I’m generally a very upbeat person. I feel lucky enough to live in a house with 1 other person, garden and open spaces. I have the luxury of being able to take time for myself but also connect with friends online. I would say just create a routine for yourself, get up and shower as if you’re going to the office. Once work has finished, close the laptop and put it out of sight.
Frank: Talk, talk, talk! Don’t fall into the typical male stereotype of keeping it all in. Professional help is still very much available remotely. A routine helps, so do outdoor activities no matter the weather.
Russell: Make sure you take regular breaks and try doing some stretching, the tense muscles from being more sedentary than usual also have a greater effect on mood and feeling tired. I’m not a person who likes a routine and doing set things at set times every day, so whenever you have a few free minutes do what you can.
Thank you so much for your honesty and openness and for giving up your time to chat today! We hope you have a great week!
Men’s Health Forum
Today too many men die too soon from heart disease, cancer, mental health issues and other diseases that can and should be prevented or better treated. If you wish to know more about Men’s Health Week, you can do so by clicking here. Also on Friday 19th June at 4pm, Men’s Health Week are hosting the ideal end to the working week: a chat about men’s health; register here.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with any issues relating to the topics discussed today, we strongly advise you seek the support and help you deserve. Below we have listed a few organisations that will be able to help:
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