COVID-19 and mental health
Within the current global crisis many of us are finding ourselves in different roles. The regular nine to fiver is now grappling with what it takes to work from home. Seems like most peoples dream right? Well… not actually. The majority of us thrive on connection, healthy competition, routine and structure. These elements are naturally built into the office type environment. So how can we incorporate these healthy elements whilst being forced to not only work from home but also not leave the house due to lockdown. Quite the challenge, with the aim of the game being to prevent cabin fever!
Here are some of my top working from home tips:
First and foremost, lets focus on the space. By leaving our homes and heading to the office we are already prepping our minds into work mode. We begin to struggle with work related ideas and solve work related problems. When we arrive at the office, we are in work mode. We do not have this opportunity right now but what will help is setting up your own little routine, home office or workspace. The routine can be something as simple as taking 5 minutes before you start work to sit and have coffee and get your head focused. Many of us are not fortunate enough to have the space for a home office but we can set up a corner at the table. Try and replicate your work space as much as possible. Get your diary out. Keep your space well organized with everything you need so you can sit for long periods and not need to be distracted by looking for your calculator but ending up in the fridge. Set your schedule for breaks and try and stick to them as much as possible. Block off external stimulation where you can. If there are kids in the house, then some headphones might work. Remember there is no boss checking in on you so this will take a lot of self-discipline. Feeling like you have been productive will boost your mood at the end of the day and all these little hacks will increase productivity.
One of the main struggles that ‘regular’ work from homers face is the level of loneliness or isolation they experience. With the current pandemic this will only be that much more intense as not only are you working from home, you are also stuck inside after hours. Loneliness and depression almost always go hand in hand so if you are going to manage working from home during lockdown then communication and connection are of the utmost importance. Start some group chats with your colleagues. Remember you are all in the same boat which on its own can offer a sense of upliftment. You don’t have the opportunity to bump into someone at lunch and vent about how overwhelmed you feel but luckily for you, you do have Whatsapp, Messenger, Skype and Facetime, to mention but a few of the many online communication portals available these days. Video calls are perfect for this, however it’s up to you to use the technology we have available and stay connected. The first call might be awkward, but they get easier.
Set a limit on the amount of work you are going to do. You can do this with either goals, tasks or having set working hours. Don’t work outside of these limits. Three weeks in lock down is a long time and if you do not take rest you will burn out. There is a reason we do not thrive if we work 24/7. No-one is a robot. We all need rest and personal time.
- Reaching out
There will be ups and downs to this isolation. Some days you will feel like you’ve got it totally waxed and others you may feel that you don’t want to get out of bed. This is to be expected. It becomes dangerous when the bad days linger, and your productivity and sense of accomplishment dwindles, reach out on your down days. Be honest. There is true power in someone being there for you in time of need, even if it’s from a distance. Be careful of letting shame or ego prevent you from asking for help. As you are working from home, so are your managers, colleagues and HR managers. Use them. We are all in this together and have a sense of mutual responsibility to lift each other up when we can.
This is not a normal situation. We are out of our depth but luckily as human beings we have the ability to adapt to what has been thrown our way. Our system has been sent a virus and it is up to us to reconfigure and not let this virus overcome our whole being.
We are thinking of you during this crisis, sending you love and light!
Stay safe! With Love,