This week is Men’s Health Week. It aims to encourage men to become more aware of health issues they may have or could develop so that they can get the help they need. With the challenges of social distancing still playing a role in our daily lives, we spoke to Tim Hipgrave, Employee Health & Wellbeing Manager at Bupa Group, who shared his experience of lockdown and advice on how to look after your wellbeing.
How has lockdown, and subsequent easing measures, been for you?
It’s been a learning experience! It’s reinforced that I do thrive under pressure and dealing with changes in a flexible way. I’ve also been very lucky to be spending a lot more time with my two boys, who I previously saw relatively little during the week because of my commute. That said, it’s not been plain sailing. It’s put more pressure at times on relationships at home, but overall I’d say it’s definitely reinforced my thinking about what’s most important.
How have you coped with the uncertainty of the situation?
By focusing on what’s important today, and on what I can control, and letting the rest go. I’ve also focused a lot on the opportunity of new things that have become possible, for example learning in much more detail about how my boys’ school week and learning process operates, I’m due to be running a (postponed) marathon in September so I’ve been able to train in places and at times I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Doing this keeps me in the mindset that I can control some things, and even make some things work even better than before, not despite uncertainty, but because of it!
Do you have some tips on healthy ways to manage conflict and relationships?
Definitely make sure you spend quiet time connecting, don’t focus on tasks constantly. Talk regularly about how people at home and other family members are feeling, what they’re doing, and if they need help. Quite often just a chat and feeling connected will do the trick. It’s also really important to know and prioritise everyone’s favourite ways to unwind and let people (especially kids) off for not sticking to the planned agenda. It’s a really weird time for kids and their little minds don’t know if they’re coming or going sometimes, they can’t articulate what’s happening in their heads so they need natural ways to switch off, and this might be at times that aren’t ‘convenient’ for the adults!
Do you have advice for those who feel unsure about how to start a conversation with someone who’s finding things difficult?
Just do it. Talk to them. It might seem uncomfortable at first but just ask them how they’re doing, point out that maybe they’ve not seemed themselves and you’re a bit concerned. Make sure you’re in a calm, focused place first, obviously. And ask yourself what you’d want your friend to do if you were really struggling but not talking about it? You’d want to know someone is thinking of you. And they won’t know unless you tell them.
What do you imagine a world after COVID-19 to look like?
I hope it’s one where we continue what we’ve learned – as individuals, families, communities and organisations. I hope this will look like flexibility, more efficient ways of doing things, and most importantly, greater compassion for one another.