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Mental wellbeing and working at home during coronavirus

With the current coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, the majority of the population are required to work from home. Whilst at first the idea may have seemed novel, by now many people may already be dealing with the practical and emotional implications of working from home.

It is important for both employers and employees to take into consideration the current situation and take steps to ensure that mental wellbeing is a high priority during this time. So here are some practical tips to take into consideration while working from home - especially if you are a lone worker.

Keep a routine

I have mentioned routine a lot in my blogs and vlogs, as I think it is a key element to maintaining healthy wellbeing. In order to keep or create a new daily routine, your morning start is important. Set up your morning as close to your previous routine as possible. Staying in your pyjamas all day may be appealing but showering and getting dressed will get you ready to sit down and work.

Take a break

In order to ensure you don’t burn out while working from home make sure that you take the breaks you normally would do during the day; if possible more than normal. Get up and walk around the house, make yourself a cup of coffee and take a breath. 5-minute meditations could be a good idea to include as a break. There are apps that you can download such as Time Out that remind you when you are due to take a break.

Set boundaries

Another key aspect of maintaining a sort of routine is to set boundaries. It is important to be as flexible as you can while you and your employer navigate this difficult period, it is however still essential to set boundaries for yourself. Make sure you take time to switch off your computer and take time off, try to stick to your normal working hours as much as possible. We are uncertain how long lockdown will continue or how long you will be required to work from home. If you work longer hours than normal or work on the weekend and don’t take time to relax and unwind you will eventually end up burning out.

Work Area

Make sure you have set up a certain area in your house to work, this will allow you to maintain a work-life balance. So as tempting as it may be, slumping in the couch with your laptop may have long term implications for both your physical and mental health and will have an impact on your productivity. Try and make your own standing desk to enjoy the benefits of working standing up. Follow the usual tips that your office space normally would follow in order to ensure the best working conditions such as a well-lit area, place your monitor directly in front of you and give your eyes rest breaks.

Walk away

Technical difficulties may stress you out at this time as this will be your main source of communication with work as well as friends and family. If you have troubles with technology reach out to colleagues for support, take a break from it and come back to it once you feel less frustrated.

Manage distractions

In the current circumstances, whilst some people may be in lockdown on their own, others may be with their families. If you are on lockdown with your family try and manage your time and whilst it may be important to tell your family that you need to work at certain times, remember it is also important for you to spend some time with them.

Switch off

Make sure you take time, shut your laptop off and just relax. These are challenging times that will impact your mental wellbeing and you need to take steps to ensure that any negative impacts are reduced.

Keep in touch

Keep in touch with colleagues through virtual coffee dates and meetings. Whilst many people choose to keep in touch and discuss aspects of work through emails, choosing to conduct meetings via phone and video calls are advisable to help maintain good communication among members of staff. Working from home can be lonely and it is therefore vital to maintain communication with fellow colleagues to combat feelings of loneliness.

Be understanding that certain people may be affected more by the unfolding situation and will need more emotional support from members of the team. Many companies have benefits such as employee assistance programmes (EAPs) that you can access if you need emotional and professional support. Ask for help; if you are struggling with aspects of your work or your emotional wellbeing reach out to colleagues/friends/family/employer. As an employer, manager or team leader you can also help maintain healthy mental wellbeing among your team by checking in frequently and conducting risk assessments.
 
It is important to be proactive and ensure that you take the necessary steps to reduce the possible negative impacts of working from home. Remember that you are not alone and it is ok to not be ok. No one knows what the impact of COVID-19 will be, but it is essential that we work together and talk to people if you are battling to manage your own emotions.
 
References and Resources:
 
https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/toolkit/coronavirus-and-isolation-supporting-yourself-and-your-colleagues/
https://www.thehrdirector.com/features/flexible-working/dealing-with-an-increased-risk-of-stress-and-anxiety-as-more-employees-work-from-home/
https://cdn.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/18155128/Supporting-colleagues-to-stay-mentally-healthy-in-unusual-working-conditions.FINAL_.pdf
https://employernews.co.uk/flexible-working/dealing-with-an-increased-risk-of-stress-and-anxiety-as-more-employees-work-from-home

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Written by Jade Finlay

I am passionate about counselling and helping individuals grow and heal in their personal lives. I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in South Africa before relocating to the UK. In South Africa I ran group psychology therapy sessions for individuals who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as one-on-one sessions.… Read more

Written by Jade Finlay

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