As the nation moves from their offices to their living rooms to work from home where possible, it is a time when all of our regular routines are being changed to keep us all safe.
Everyone will react differently to this challenging and unusual situation - some people will enjoy rising to the challenge immediately, and others may feel completely overwhelmed by anxiety and fear of the unknown. It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to react in this situation, and all of us are bound to feel unsettled at some point.
With this in mind, it has never been more important to be kind to your mind and kind to each other. We’d like to share some practical tips on managing your mental health whilst working from home, and how to cope whilst the world gets used to this new normal.
Top five practical tips for promoting good mental health whilst social distancing:
- Stick to a routine
- Take care of your body
- Get creative
- Keep the conversation going
- Make time to unwind
Stick to a routine.
From losing our commutes, to always being next to our computers, to turning our bedrooms into home offices, regular routine goes out of the window while working from home. Whilst some of us may be getting hours put back into our weeks by not having to commute, when not leaving the house it can be hard to be motivated to start work in the morning, and to stop at the end of the day. This can cause many of us to feel anxious and unsettled.
That’s why where possible, create a routine and stick to it. For example, getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, and planning in a lunch break, making the most of your weekends, can really help. If you like routine and organisation, create a spreadsheet or list with your daily schedule on, and write down a list of tasks you’d like to achieve each day that you can tick off. If you prefer playing things by ear, ensure you are taking time away from your screen regularly.
Make sure you also schedule in time to relax, speak to friends and family, and exercise. This can help you feel as normal as possible and keep you connected to the outside world.
Take care of your body.
Similarly, although it may feel exciting to not have to get out of your pyjamas for the foreseeable, your mind will thank you if you look after your body. Try to eat well and eat regularly to keep your body fuelled (you may need to hide your biscuits and snacks), and get a good amount of sleep at night (put down that TV remote).
Get up and get dressed at the start of the day (especially if your work involves video calls!), shower or enjoy a relaxing bath, take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
If you want to exercise, lots of fitness gurus, from Joe Wicks to Lucy Mecklenburgh, are currently streaming free workouts across multiple platforms, from YouTube, to Instagram Live, to Zoom. There is something out there for everything - maybe now is the time to try that fitness class that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to go to!
If you're not self-isolating for medical reasons and you’re suffering from cabin fever, according to the current government advice, you can still get out of your house once a day for a walk or a run by yourself or with people you live with. A great way to enjoy fresh air whilst social distancing.
Whilst it is important to stick to your work schedule as much as possible, outside of working hours, keep your mind entertained - try to do some other activities you enjoy or take up a new hobby. Delivery services such as Amazon are still running, so order some paints and a sketchbook and get creative.
If you've exhausted Netflix and Amazon Prime video, look for other ways to keep yourself occupied whilst limiting social contact. From online yoga classes to group gaming, and online gigs to virtual museum tours, there’s something for everyone. Most people have access to music, why not turn your kitchen into a dance floor for half an hour each day...great with kids too.
Keep the conversation going.
This one is particularly important, and applies to promoting good mental health both during and outside of working hours.
Google hangouts or video calls aren’t just for meetings - you can use them to reach out to colleagues. There will be lots of people out there on your direct or wider team who would really appreciate you reaching out to them. When working from home, why not enjoy a virtual tea break together. You might even want to arrange a team yoga session or fitness session - it’s amazing what activity can be done in the comfort of your own home. Perhaps a team drink at 5pm on a Friday, virtually, whether tea or something else!
Remember, if you are concerned about your own mental health, or worried about one of your teammates, reach out to your line manager, colleague, HR or wellbeing champion and they will support you. At Randstad, our employees have 24/7 access to an employee assistance programme via a mobile app, which is also available for all of our candidates to access.
Similarly, check in on your friends and family members regularly - schedule in group video calls (there are lots of ways of doing this, from FaceTime, to Skype, to apps such as Houseparty) and stay connected. Reach out to friends you’ve lost touch with, check in on your grandparents and cousins. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Make time to unwind.
At the end of each working day, make sure you take the time to switch off from work, and relax. If you are living with other people, watch some TV together or play a board game. If you’re alone, connect with people virtually or do something you enjoy.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it can really help to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Everyone needs some downtime.
Be kind, be patient and support each other over the weeks ahead. It has never been more important to come together to ensure everyone is as healthy and as happy as possible whilst working from home.
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