COVID-19 is affecting us in many different ways, posing a range of challenges as we respond to the demands of the situation. These are stressful times for all of us and it is understandable and normal to feel anxious, worried and ‘not yourself’.
At Eldorado Gold, the health and safety of our people is of paramount importance to us. In addition to the implementation of operating controls and practical measures to ensure the physical well-being of our employees, we are also conscious of our employees’ mental health. We do not underestimate the effect anxiety about the pandemic may be having on our employees and on the people we share our homes and workplaces with.
Anxiety can rise with separation from family and loved ones, loneliness through self-isolation and quarantine, young children and adolescents coping with school closures and the cancellation of extracurricular activities, or heightened concerns over the infection and spread of COVID-19.
So how do we manage our mental health in these stressful times? Accepting that some anxiety and fear is normal is a good first step and can help motivate us to take care of ourselves and others during the pandemic.
Janja Mihajlovic, an Eldorado Gold geologist working in brownfield exploration in Greece, is typical of many people who are trying to find a mental health balance in these unprecedented times.
Sharing how the COVID-19 situation is affecting her, Janja said, “Normally, I enjoy traveling to new places, visiting different geological settings, meeting geologists from all over the world while exchanging ideas and experiences. Most of the activities I do in my daily life are now affected or restrained due to the pandemic, but I try to see the bright side of it!”
“Maybe now is a time for us geologists to rearrange personal rock libraries and share forgotten gems with one another, because communicating with our colleagues, family and friends will keep us mentally healthy.”
“YouTube exercise videos are my way of spending time in the evenings and inviting other people to join through video calls. And thinking ahead to better times keeps me positive. I’m looking forward to rejoining my basketball team in Stavros and spending time on the court and strolling around the city with friends, discovering new patisseries.”
High levels of anxiety and stress are usually fueled by the way we think. We can challenge our thinking, perhaps practice relaxation and meditation or other strategies we may have used in the past that have helped. Many other ways will help too – eating healthily, moderating caffeine and alcohol intake, staying active and getting good rest and sleep.
Above all, we should seek support when feeling overwhelmed. Social distancing does not mean we need to break off all contact from loved ones. It can be helpful to connect with people who are a positive influence when we are feeling stressed, or to reach out to someone like a family doctor or other health professional. And like Janja, we must remember that better days are ahead.