How Furlough has Affected my Mental Health Beth is one of thousands of people in Scotland that have been placed on the Governments Furlough Scheme during the coronavirus outbreak. She got in touch with us to share her experience with hopes it will help others going through the same thing. Now in the 8th week of lockdown living by myself, it doesn’t seem like any social distancing measures are going to be lifted anytime soon. Part of me does remain optimistic that measures will be relaxed in the coming weeks - I miss seeing my family, I miss meeting up with friends, and also believe it or not, I miss my work. Remaining optimistic throughout the lockdown has been a struggle some days as the uncertainty of not knowing when lockdown will be lifted so I can see my family and friends, coupled with the now recent prospect of possible redundancy has at times been hard to comprehend. I have been on the Government’s furlough scheme since the start of April and I consider myself lucky that I have been able to receive this. Although not ideal for all, I believe that the certainty of still receiving a salary (even if it is 80% of normal), is a reassurance and has certainly helped me cope over these initial months. My biggest worry now is the prospect of redundancy. From initially having to process the idea of being on furlough until lockdown is lifted, I am now beginning to worry about not even having my job to go back to at the end of all this, and it has been an emotional rollercoaster. With work, I am now in the mindframe of, ‘whatever happens, happens’ and ‘i can’t do anything about it’, which to some might seem quite flippant but at the end of the day I’ve realised that this whole situation is out of my control. I am now content with this mindframe and it took me a few weeks to be ok with this. I think it helped that I am able to keep in touch with family and friends through social media and video calls and that I have a great support network - I would definitely have struggled without them. Discussing and sharing my current work situation with my family and friends really helped put another perspective on things, especially hearing the view of older relatives who have been through so much more. Talking and opening up about it meant that I wasn’t completely stuck in my own head mulling things over. I find that when I start to mull things over I end up feeling worse. Other ways that have helped with coping have been keeping active: I am in no way a gym go-er or a routine runner but getting out at least once a day for a long walk and then also trying out some online exercises classes has really helped me to clear my head. Also, it’s not for everyone, and again, I am in no way a ‘yogi’, but I attend an online yoga class once a week and that has really really helped me - it’s a great way to completely switch off and ‘check-in’ with yourself. I also believe that keeping your mind busy is important: I have enrolled in multiple online courses on the Open University. There is a wide range of free courses that you can do in your own time from ‘Beginners’ Spanish’ to ‘Managing my Money’ to ‘The Big Bang’. You also receive a certificate at the end which, to me, is a sense of achievement when you’re at home not doing very much at all. At the start of the lockdown I was also studying for work in order to become chartered and that really helped me to keep busy and occupied. It’s good to have a goal set to achieve something during all this, it keeps you going and in a routine, which is so important. In saying all this, I think it’s important to say that there have been days when I couldn’t be bothered doing anything at all and this is ok too - we all need some downtime and I think, given the circumstances, I am allowed the occasional ‘bad day’. The main thing is not letting the ‘bad day’ turn into a ‘bad week’. Even if you don’t feel like it reach out to someone, or, go out for a shorter walk than normal, just try do something that means you’re not ‘stuck’ - even if that means just moving to another room, or to the other end of the table, or swapping that glass of wine for a glass of water! Small steps help and of course ‘bad days’ can happen more than once, it’s just knowing what works for you and how you’ll make yourself feel better. With family and friends I know that it is important to stay at home to protect vulnerable people from the virus as, in the grand scheme of things, a few months at home is hardly any time at all. This whole situation has made me think of the bigger picture, put everything into perspective (especially work) and made me realise the importance of family and friends. It just means that when we can see each other again like we used to, it will be even better than before and I’ll definitely appreciate everyone in my life more. It’s a day I’m so looking forward to, the end goal, and the one thing that’s keeping me going and optimistic throughout all of this. If you're struggling with your mental health, we're here for you. Our information line is open M-F, 9-4pm on 0300 323 1545 or you can email [email protected]. You can also message us on Facebook. If you are feeling affected by money worries, we have a Mental Health and Money Advice line that are here to support you. Please find out more by clicking here. We are also part of the recently launched Clic online community forum, which is open 24/7. Full of information, it is a place where you can open up about your mental health with others in similar situations. Visit www.clic-uk.org/ to sign up for free.