As we’ve unfortunately all learned over the past couple of years, lockdown is hard, especially for salons and hairdressers who lose income., routine, their work and their craft in the process. For both salon owners and employees, it’s a difficult road and its absolutely paramount to actively manage your mental health during these difficulties.

With parts of the country in and out of lockdown right now, we spoke to Anna Feringa, a Workplace Mental Health Consultant, to understand her insights into this timeous problem. Read on and hopefully gather some takeaways to what can work best for you and your mental health.

How can salon owners support staff with their mental health during this time?

Firstly, there is ‘prevention leadership’, this means stay connected with your team during lockdown. Regular virtual team meetings, catch ups or huddles are a great way to stay connected and stay across the health of your team. You don’t know, what you don’t know right?

Talk about Mental Health openly and honestly, ask your team how they are going and be prepared for some tough responses. If some of your team are not comfortable talking about this in a team setting arrange a 1:1 catch up with each of your staff in addition to the team meeting for more privacy.

Secondly, there is ‘reaction leadership’. By this I mean when one of your team members has told you they are struggling, or you have noticed that they don’t seem themselves be prepared to listen and direct them to support services. Remember you are not the counsellor (even though the community think most hairdressers are!), you are the supporter only. You don’t have to have all the answers but just know where you can guide your team for professional support

How can salon owners and employees personally focus on their mental health?

All of the things we’re used to doing each week — running your business for start, catching up with friends and family, going out for dinner — have temporarily been disrupted.

Many people have lost their jobs and there is uncertainty about how COVID-19 will affect jobs and the economy into the future. ‘Uncertainty’ has been found to be the leading cause declining mental health during lockdowns alongside loneliness, so here are some important tips.

Look after your physical health Yes, that means move more, eat healthier and drink less (alcohol, that is). It is great coming up but terrible coming down off alcohol partially if you are not in a healthy mindset.

Stay connected with your team, family and friends – This prevents loneliness, increases personal connection and, hey, you may even laugh a little or a lot. Laugher is proven way to cope with stress – let’s call it the dopamine shot!

Have a routine (as much as you can) – Try and eat at regular times, sleeping (Netflix is a killer for sleep routines), wake up when you normally would, exercise when you normally would (if you do at all – it may be a great time to start!) and stay connected with your team, friends and family. Unstructured time can create boredom, which leads to overthinking, which leads to an increase in anxiety or depression, which can lead to unhealthy patterns of coping. Booze, poor diet and poor sleep increase anxiety – see the cycle? Distraction is awesome when we are fighting worry and routines give you a feeling of control when we are living in an uncontrolled world right now.

Support someone else – We all have our own baggage, and some of us are more vulnerable than others right now. They may be older, live on their own, or live in a challenging home situation. Reaching out to give people support, if you are able, can help your mental wellbeing and make a big difference to someone else’s life. It also feels awesome for your self-esteem!

Seek support – It’s normal to have ups and downs, these are crazy times indeed and it is important to talk about how you’re feeling with people you trust. Believe me, most people are likely experiencing similar feelings.

If you want to talk to someone else, but aren’t sure where to start, there are lots of great online and phone chat support services available. If these services don’t cut it and you are feeling anxious or depressed for a long time, see a health professional. Have a chat to your GP about a referral. Believe me – it’s worth it.

What are tips to managing lockdown anxiety?

Funnily enough, it’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, confused, sad, angry and bored, but these feelings can take their toll, and we all need to take the time to care for ourselves. We did discuss how to look after your mental health previously so don’t forget these tips, but let’s extend a little further to focus directly on reducing anxiety during lockdown

Put the breaks on with media and misinformation I know it is tempting to scour the media and all the sensationalism of panic-based headlines, it can be difficult to escape but try at least not to read it first thing in the morning or last thing at night, otherwise you are setting yourself for a really bad day or a restless sleep. Limiting your exposure to media, news, and social media about lockdowns and COVID reduce the panic.

Stay focused on the here and now, taking each day step by step – Try to focus on the here and now- not the past and not the future. Live in the moment and take one day at a time. Anxiety is always thinking the worst of everything so worrying about tomorrow, next week, next month, and will not end well for you from a mindset perspective. Just focus on getting today done.

Practice gratitude and appreciate everything – Gratitude doesn’t need to take centre stage for the big wins in life. Making a habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in your world and recognising that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Even if it is as simple as appreciating our health, where we live, friends, a roof over your head, family, awesome hair…. don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude. We take so much for granted so when we remind ourselves what we have outside this excessively commercialised world it really does shift your mindset from poor me to not so poor me!

Any other words of wisdom for the salon community during this time?

Remember… ‘you have made it this far’. I don’t mean through COVID, I mean since birth! Life can throw some serious curve balls at us, yet here you are surviving, breathing, laughing, crying and even taking the time to read this article. You are stronger and more resilient than you give yourself credit for. Although stressful, and in some cases devastating for ourselves and our businesses, this too shall pass and you will survive and come out stronger because of it.

For more information visit www.annaferinga.com.au