In this interview, our mental health specialist Evelina, shares her insights about post-pandemic times and what work-related issues and highlights regarding mental health these times brought.
To the sessions, clients often bring anxiety issues, reduced motivation at work and in their personal life, feelings of overwork and exhaustion and relationship issues. I quite often hear that after the pandemic, people feel more anxious. The return to the offices, being in spaces with many people and communicating with colleagues live, raises those feelings of anxiety. Often, clients emphasize that they did not experience such forms of social anxiety before and felt good in their work environment among colleagues. After analyzing these challenges a little deeper, it appears that the lack of motivation experienced could indeed be related to social anxiety.
Another aspect is that clients often come with self-realization questions, a desire to change something but, at the same time, a great fear of making actual changes. It is known to cause feelings of anxiety and tension. Sometimes clients also mention complex relationships in the work environment, lack of communication with managers or colleagues and difficulties building relationships in the immediate work environment. Of course, many clients also bring challenges unrelated to their professional life.
So, I notice that the pandemic period has left a mark on people’s lives. For some, existential questions arose – who am I, where do I want to be and what gives me a sense of meaning? These questions show that we are increasing our awareness and listening to ourselves more. For others, rather intense feelings of anxiety developed, partly related to the loneliness experienced during the quarantine and partly to the returned sociability after the pandemia. But the highlight is that there has been an increase in taking care of one’s mental health.
Usually, there is no one reason for exhaustion – it’s the whole “set.” Burnout isn’t always just a cause of the workload. Very often, personal life, habits and activities after work also contribute to this. When it comes to the pandemic period working from home also has become a common cause of burnout. Frequently, clients who have experienced burnout note that while working remotely, their work-life boundaries began to blur. They were confused about when work begins and ends or when it is time to change activities and switch to relaxation. Simultaneously, opportunities for meaningful leisure and hobbies also decreased, as well as experiencing positive emotions, which used to replenish people’s resources used up while working. A vicious cycle developed – there weren’t opportunities for favorite leisure activities, so working hours expanded and reduced physical and emotional resources to discover other activities that could provide relaxation.
In my practice, the most common questions regarding work are about considering a change of field or searching for self in work. Again, it was during the pandemic time that a significant number of clients came with questions about their career – do they feel they are on the path in their life, is this the job they want to do, and if it gives a sense of meaning for them, a sense of pleasure. It is sad, but for many, these questions cause feelings of fear, anxiety and tension. In sessions, some also share a feeling of alienation (a sense of self-estrangement, an absence of social support, or meaningful social connectedness) – as if they are faking and lying to themselves and their colleagues. Fear and anxiety arise because it is scary to accept thoughts and feelings changes bring and go into areas that are not yet completely familiar and are uncomfortable. In such situations, I help people to organize their thoughts, emotions, and desires, supporting them on their path and normalizing the feelings that arise, encouraging them.
My clients highlight and appreciate the opportunity to try psychological counseling so much. For many, this opportunity became an incentive to take care of their emotional state – they realized how important it is to listen to their physical bodies and mental clues to cultivate psychological well-being. It is also encouraging that many mention how much the opportunity to keep a diary of their emotional state helps their introspection. Also, various practices are appreciated, such as breathing exercises and meditations. For many, it has become a new good habit and a way to take care of yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic raised many mental health difficulties, but at the same time, promising changes – attention not only to physical but also to psychological well-being. It is so gratifying that the stigma about going to mental health specialists seems to be decreasing. Some clients claim that the choice to start therapy was caused by a confrontation with themselves, listening to their authentic feelings and needs. Also, many mention that the feeling of loneliness during the pandemic pushed them to take the path of self-help. And, of course, many people bring up the availability – now there are new, attractive ways to seek psychological help or support. As a mental health professional, I’m glad to see people’s awareness and holistic self-care increasing.
The first step towards taking care of yourself and your emotional state, I think, is just trying to pause and reflect more often. How was my day, what feelings and emotions did I feel, what thoughts of myself and others were the most vivid, for what I am, or could be, happy about, for what today I can thank myself, what else could I do for myself, to make myself feel better this day?
Want to learn more about how to improve emotional well-being in the workplace? Reach out to our team and get a free consultation now.