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Jaimal is Net Zero Pioneer helping to upskill our SME coverage team on all things Net Zero and how this will impact our customer.

With a keen interest in mental health awareness and wellbeing, Jaimal shares his story on how the support from his family, friends and line manager helped him get his health back on track after the pandemic.

I’ve been married to my wife Kiran for 13 years and we have a son who is 10 and a daughter who’s 7, and I started my career 16 years ago. Pre-pandemic, I loved socialising, going to the gym, being a season ticket holder and watching Leicester play football, and really enjoying my life.

Going into lockdown in March and working from home, at first I felt this was great. Getting up at 8:30 and starting work at nine, with no commuting, I had more time to incorporate physical activities. Being a business manager, I was initially able to manage my workload and supporting the businesses that were also adapting to the challenges.

I realised if I looked at my watch the day had flown past me and it would be 5 o’clock already. I was living in the office, having my lunch at my desk and not having moved from my seat throughout the day. During the evenings, I would go to the garden and get some physical activity then sit down around 7 for something to eat.

By the middle of May I noticed I was struggling, I couldn’t switch off. I was barely getting two or three hours sleep, my mind was in overdrive and it was making me have panic and anxiety attacks. I recall a few occasions when I had to stick my head out of the window so I could breathe.

Every day I was tired, my energy levels were really low but I was convincing myself saying “you’re fine” and “keep doing what you’re doing”. This just lead to a boiling point at the end of May when my wife, Kiran, said something to me and I just snapped and knew I had to get some fresh air.

Kiran had been noticing the change in me over the few weeks and she encouraged me to discuss my issues with my line manager, Amit. Once I did this, within the minutes of me explaining how I felt it was as if a pressure value in me had been released. My worries and anxiety dropped from by half. My employer referred me to a counsellor who helped me to understand that my routine was all wrong; waking up late, not taking breaks, working out in the evening was increasing my adrenaline levels resulting in not being able to switch off.

I took some time off so I could figure out what was causing me to feel like this. The following week I had lost six kilograms in weight and I couldn’t eat anything. My mind was beginning to play tricks on me. I recall one friend after telling him how I was feeling brought me some food over. I met another friend while on a bike ride, when I stopped to talk to him, he realised I was not the same, they both helped me with coping mechanisms

The top three actions that really worked for me was having a positive routine - waking up early, as you would do if you’re commuting to work. That time in the morning is now for me to have a dedicated period of 10 mins to meditate. For my wellbeing, it is really important to get some fresh air so I block time in my day for an hour’s walk, headphones on either listening to music or a podcast which helps me to create positive thoughts. And finally, some form of exercise from walking, jogging to cycling but for me the one activity that really helped me to gain control over my mind-set was doing yoga.

I’d like to encourage everyone to reach out to their family, friends, strangers or neighbours and talk about how they are feeling. The support I have gained from my wife, friends, my line manager and a counsellor has truly helped me to understand more about myself and to gain the help, support needed and develop a routine during a really challenging time of adjustment. I’m now here sharing my story and saying “It’s okay to talk”