We know that staying at home is helping to save lives, but how is lockdown affecting your mental health?
We asked our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) specialist Connie Juross to share some tips and suggestions to help you stay mentally healthy while working from home:
Routine & Boundaries – It’s important to find a way to demarcate between work and home life. As much as possible, try to keep to normal sleep/wake times and maintain an exercise routine. Switch on your work mindset by showering and dressing for work in the morning. At the end of your workday, give yourself the signal to switch off by changing into your home clothes.
Flexibility for Working Parents – If your kids are currently learning from home, cut yourself some slack – this is not easy! The extra responsibility of supporting your kids with remote learning may bring up emotions or anxiety for some working parents. Communicate with both the school and your workplace to receive support and flexibility. If your routine and work boundaries have gone out the window, please don’t stress. Every day is a new day.
Fresh Air & Exercise - Vital for keeping the blues at bay. Replace gym visits and work commuting with walking breaks and simple home exercises (e.g. squats, push-ups, online classes such as Pilates or yoga). If working from home means lots of sedentary time in front of the computer, break up the day with a short walk in the fresh air – preferably 20 minutes in the morning, and again at lunchtime. Involving kids and pets can help minimise cabin fever for everyone.
Stay Connected - Humans are social beings. Whether or not you consider yourself introverted or extroverted, staying in touch with family and friends is important for our mental health. Connect with at least two friends a week on a video chat platform like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts. Just a 10-minute coffee chat up via video conferencing will do the trick, but make sure you can both see each other. Eye contact is one of the keys to meaningful human connection.
Limit Exposure to News - It's natural to feel some anxiety about how our lives have changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, people living with anxiety and depression may be particularly triggered during this time. Manage your exposure to social media and only read Coronavirus updates from Government sources, at limited times during the day, e.g. 15 minutes at 10am and 15 minutes at 2pm.
When chatting daily with colleagues, friends or family, find other positive points to focus on e.g. sharing what you’re grateful for, cooking tips, new projects, even a daily joke. However, do not ignore warning signs such as invasive thoughts or emotions. Talk to someone you trust – a friend or family member, your GP or your EAP provider.
Stepping Up as a Remote Manager - Managers, get to know your staff over video conferencing, particularly their communication nuances. Video conferencing has enabled business to continue through the COVID-19 crisis. However, this mode of communication can be fraught with errors, both technologically and regarding communication patterns. Managers will need to be clearer and more explicit in communicating expectations and feedback; more empathetic and flexible regarding what your staff are dealing with at home; and more available for regular check-ins, to help keep your staff on track and ensure that they are still coping.
R U OK? - Keep an eye on your loved ones and co-workers. If, for whatever reason, you or your colleague is uncomfortable with video chat, then have a good old-fashioned phone call. Make it 1:1 and be a good listener. “It’s okay to not be okay” but talking about your feelings almost always helps people cope. Make regular check-ins part of your routine, to help maintain a mentally healthy workplace while working from home.
WorkPlacePLUS offers a holistic, fully integrated Employee Assistance Program (EAP) incorporating mental, emotional, and physical health education. Our EAP’s are positioned to deliver innovative, best practice and proactive solutions.
For more information, please contact us today.