A&E and television doctor Alex George says holidays and travelling can play an important role in tackling stress.
The social media star has almost two million followers on Instagram and was recently appointed as the government’s youth mental health ambassador.
He offered agents tips about their own mental health during Travel Weekly’s Mental Health Matters Virtual Brunch on Wednesday (April 28).
When asked about the importance of holidays – especially after more than a year of no travel – he said: “Absolutely. One of my last trips was on Carnival. I have been dreaming of that cruise.
“Travel and getting some sunshine are an important part of releasing and de-stressing from work life – spending quality time with loved ones, friends and family, seeing new things in the world.
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“I miss travel so much. One of big things I look forward to, once this all lifts, is going abroad, visiting different places, having experiences.
“Having been locked up for a bit too long, those things have now become more important than ever.”
He has been helping students and teachers with the return to school after lockdown and recognises that travel staff may well feel anxious about returning to workplaces, especially if they have been on furlough.
People may also be wary of returning to busy places such as bars or planes too.
“You do not have to go back just because these places are open – take your time with everything,” he said.
“Some people cannot wait but a lot won’t feel that way; do not feel pressurised to get there.”
He said organisations and businesses recognise that looking after their workforce is “vital” and there is now more support for employees, with counselling and signposting for those who need help.
His advice for those facing difficulties is to “control of your sphere of influence” – take exercise and talking to colleagues, friends and family.
“It is not easy. Reach out if you are struggling,” he advised.
Since appearing on the reality show Love Island in 2018, he has campaigned on the issue of mental health, and met Theresa May when she was prime minister.
However, his own brother committed suicide last summer, which George describes as a “tipping point”.
He met Boris Johnson, took on the ambassador role and is now busy juggling his work in A&E with social media, writing a book and raising awareness of self-care and mental health.
Tackling the stigma of mental illness is a key theme.
“My brother had not spoken to anybody; he might have been ashamed about how he was feeling,” he told the virtual event.
“Men, particularly, struggle to reach out and speak about mental health.”
And mental illness covers a broad spectrum, he said, highlighting the spike in eating disorders and self-harm during the pandemic.
He has tweeted about the importance of being kind and told the virtual event: “A lot of people are on edge and stressed out with the pandemic.
“We are all in this together, let’s be more united.
“It isn’t hard to be kind.”
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