As it has been widely publicised, this week is Mental Health Awareness week, which as a team at Gregor heating is something we readily shine a spotlight on with our charity partner Bristol Mind.  Mind’s big focus this week is on the benefits of being outdoors and in nature, so we decided to sit down with a few of our team and have a conversation on this topic to get an understanding of how the past year has affected our staff in different ways:

How do you feel the last year has affected your mental health?

Fiona: I don’t feel that my mental health suffered at all during the last year.  I actually enjoyed the fact that we were living in a slow paced environment for a while where nobody was rushing to get anywhere and people seemed more tolerant of each other.

Matt: At the very start (when I was furloughed) I had a couple of months where I was happier than I have been for years – my depression and anxiety felt almost non existent. It was a weird feeling but obviously a massive bonus. The sunshine and ability to go for regular walks etc was a great boost. 

Then I returned to work and had a few months of being busy again with the usual routine which was pretty good. I found after the 2nd lockdown my mental health deteriorated – probably not helped by going into the winter months. Now, I’m feeling more positive as the days get lighter and we can hopefully return to a more normal life.

Kate: For me this past year has been a challenge. I was constantly busy with my children at home, working for Gregor Heating and having 2 horses to look after every day. I am glad that things are now starting to feel normal again.

How did you find working from home?

Fiona: At the beginning of the pandemic, I really liked being able to work from home. I could have a lie-in, catch up with household chores in my lunch breaks and was able to keep the dog company!

Unfortunately, the drawbacks were not having any face-to-face contact with colleagues, being close to the fridge, and noticing how many diy projects I needed to address!  I also seemed to be forever answering the door to delivery drivers with packages for other members of my household who were obviously missing their retail therapy!

Matt:The first few weeks was a bit of a novelty; Listening to music while I worked, raiding the fridge at my leisure and seeing my friends/family for lunchtime walks etc.  But after these first few weeks I started to really struggle with not having defined boundaries between freetime and work. I found logging off the laptop and then being in the same place could be a mental struggle, it just didn’t feel normal. I definitely work better around people but do enjoy the flexibility from working from home sometimes, which is helpful to know.

Kate: I quite enjoyed working from home at the start of lockdown. It was a challenge as there was limited staff and had to adapt quickly to working in different departments. It was sometimes very stressful. As time went on I started to feel a bit isolated from the rest of the office team especially when my children returned to school.

Has the consistency of work helped you get through the pandemic?

Fiona: As several colleagues were furloughed, the workload was consistent, and, with the winter period then being foisted upon us, we have been kept as busy as usual.

Matt: Yes once I got back to work from furlough it was a relief – as well as financially needing to work, I find the regularity and structure of my working days helps my mental health.

Kate: I think having a work/home routine helped through the pandemic having to balance working part time with homeschooling, it was also nice to have regular contact with colleagues and customers.

Nature is the theme for mental health awareness week – did you find going out and about in Nature helped you when in lockdown?  If so, what did you do?

Fiona: I’m fortunate to live within a 10 minute walk of the River Frome, so, after work my daughter and myself would take the dog for his walk – it was great to see so many other people exploring the local area and appreciating what nature has to offer not far from home.

Matt: Yes always – trees absolutely rock – lungs of the earth!  Also animals are better than people aren’t they?! So any time I could get out and about to go for walks/go to Wild Place etc (when we were allowed), I would do so. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t turn into Ray Mears but I definitely went exploring more than I had done before.

Kate: When I was furloughed for a few weeks we went out for walks around our local area which we haven’t had a chance to do before. I love taking the horses out for exercise to get out in the fresh air and occasional competitions to have something to focus on.

Where is your favourite place to explore around Bristol when you get out and about?

Fiona: I like to explore my local area whilst walking the dog, and despite living in the same area my whole life, there are still places that I have yet to discover

Matt: The Docks/ Harbourside/ Park Street/ Whiteladies, also Vassalls Park is a gem, Ashton Court – the mini train they’ve got at Ashton Court is brilliant, and basically any record shop.

Kate: I don’t tend to visit Bristol very often as I live on the Bath borders. I just enjoy trekking around our local area with the ponies and we have some great views over Bristol.

As you can read our team has discovered more about themselves through the pandemic and what helps/hinders their mental health. We really value their candor and believe this is such an important conversation to be having regularly. If you need someone to talk to about your mental health we highly recommend you connect with Bristol Mind. They have a wide range of services and tips to help you look after your own mental health.