Mental Health at the Heart

COVID-19 affects everyone and now, more than ever, mental health needs to be a top priority. Those of us who’ve experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past or who have a long-term physical health condition – we’re even more vulnerable to the dramatic toll this pandemic can have on our mental health. Even if you don’t have an existing health problem, the situation can cause anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed, stress and loneliness. Something we can not overlook. 

At Spotify, mental health is already an important topic, and the Diversity & Belonging team work with global health (Heart & Soul) ambassadors to drive our Heart & Soul initiatives. When the severity of COVID-19 became clear, the Heart & Soul Ambassadors were quick in creating resources specifically for the situation. There are elements to help our band members tend their own mental health, and also for managers to take care of their team’s mental wellbeing. 

Gratitude, compassion and connectivity

It’s been approximately one month with the entire Spotify band working from home, and many of us are becoming accustomed. That’s not to say there are not still people struggling, and of course, we continue to provide professional support for them. In general, we can see that practicing gratitude and self-compassion has, and will continue to, help us all build a resilient mindset and an inner calm so that we can handle life in a complex world. 

To help the band stay connected and make sure that everyone still has the sense of belonging we know is important, we introduced Heart & Soul Connect with the purpose of Spotifiers connecting with their colleagues on topics that will build their resilience. It’s a concept based purely on conversation between colleagues – so simple, but so powerful. We started with Practicing Gratitude and Let’s talk about working from home and in the coming weeks there are Connect sessions on Getting Comfortable with being uncomfortable, Healthy Habits and Managing your energy. Even though we’re all working from home, we’re finding that in some ways, we’re more connected than ever as the geographical barriers are erased. The possibility to create connections across offices has opened up in another way.  

Dealing with uncertainty and anxiety  

We believe in creating an environment where we validate emotions, where it’s accepted that we can all feel vulnerable and overwhelmed at times, and where it’s ok to feel that things are tough. Because it is. 

Creating this environment helps us all to deal with anxiety. When we can talk openly about anxiety and the common symptoms, it makes it easier for each of us to recognize our own signals and signals from people around us. This way we can be proactive and take action before it potentially escalates. 

How to look after your mental health 

There are many different ways to take care of your mental health – here’s a few tips from our Heart & Soul Ambassadors to help you find your way and maintain a healthy state of mind.

Tips: for staying connected to others

  • Communicate more with your team than you normally would. Try organising short calls to check-in with one another or remote team activities like a “Digital Lunch” or “Virtual Fika aka Vika”. You can create calendar invites to informally hang out with your colleagues. Have an extended meeting with your team and establish a way of working remotely.
  • Don’t forget to have phone calls with friends and family members. 

Tips: for creating a home-based work routine

  • We encourage you to get ready in the mornings as you would for a normal workday; shower, get dressed, have a coffee and have a balanced breakfast. Ensure you work regular working hours in a dedicated office-like space, separate your work from home if possible and stick to your schedule – and switch off when your workday has ended. 
  • If you’re working and also have kids at home, that will most likely cause additional stress and feelings of guilt. Do take advantage of online resources. Spotify’s employee resource group Parents, are helping Spotifiers with kids by creating specific programming like kids yoga, kids dance, storytime, and educational sessions for parents on how to cope with working and taking care of kids at the same time. 

Tips: for making sure you keep a healthy mind & body

  • Schedule breaks and take them in their entirety and take walks or go for a run to clear your mind. Use your break for meditation or other relaxation exercises.
  • We’re offering our band members virtual meditation sessions a few times every week to help them stay grounded. Take advantage of online resources and even if you don’t usually dedicate time to mental wellbeing exercise like meditation, consider that this could be a good time to incorporate it into your routine.
  • Practicing gratefulness is a great way to balance the mind and decrease stress. Try to work out ways to extract positives or growth opportunities from this new situation and challenging times. And keep in mind that everything changes – this situation is not permanent, it will change.

Let’s look after one another

And practice what we preach, right? So I’ll wrap this up by showing some gratitude – from the very beginning of this pandemic, every single one of the fifty Heart & Soul Ambassadors have shown courage, vulnerability and commitment to support our employees mental health. They’ve helped us to make sure we offer a variety of tools and approaches – after all, we all react to situations differently and on different timelines. One day we might feel grounded and the next we are experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed or grief. I’m so, so grateful to them for all their work, and their perspectives – thank you team!

We’re all seeing in times of crisis, mental health should be at heart, so let’s be mindful that we’re all experiencing the situation differently, and let’s make sure we look after one another.