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Protecting Your Mental Health Whilst Working at Home

Since March 16th we have been on lockdown and told to practice social distancing. It is still unclear when exactly these measures will be lifted.

This is unlike anything we've experienced before: it's strange, confusing and it can be overwhelming and cause anxiety.

What can we do to stay healthy in mind as well as body?

Added on 05.06.2020

Many of us are working from home and or furloughed. This prevents us from having our usual daily interactions. This is bound to have an impact on our mental health. So, what can we do to help ourselves and take care of others? We’ve put together some tips:

Don't obsess on the news

There are frequent news updates and stories on social media, making it near impossible to avoid news about coronavirus - and it's usually bad news. If this is making you feel anxious, turn off your notifications and delete apps. Only check the news once during the day so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and leave it to the evening for two reasons:

  • you can get what you need to get done out of the way first; and
  • rather than watching something develop, catch the summary / update.

Focusing on your life and your responsibilities is the best way to get through this. Apps such as Offtime allow you to block other apps for certain periods of time to help you filter out unhealthy distractions. And, when you do get your news, stick to reputable sources (for example the NHS or .GOV websites). Avoid sensationalism and media outlets that are trying to provoke an emotional response. Feeling helpless or powerless, or angry, upset or scared is not going to help you get through this.

Be Kind to yourself and others

We have to navigate a new way of working together. But don't lose sight of what you'd normally be doing.

Whilst working from home keep in regular contact with people in your team. Have regular video calls and phone calls to try to keep social interactions happening. Organise a coffee break with your team and have virtual socials. Make your team always aware you are available if they need a chat – just like you would in an office environment.

If you manage a team, make sure that your team has lots of opportunities to tell you if this new way of working is going OK.

Take all concerns seriously.

If you are furloughed work on yourself.

Set up your day with tasks to do. You could:

  • start a blog;
  • start writing that book;
  • take a free online course (make use of all the free webinars out there);
  • register with recruiters and get your CV and cover letter 'match ready'.

Keep your brain active. Your brain is a muscle and needs to be worked, as well as rested.

Keep yourself active

Physical and mental health are undeniably linked. Now, more than ever, exercise plays an important part in keeping us calm and focused.

Try to treat your working day like any other: shower, dress, set your tasks, take regular breaks - and take exercise.

When working from home it can be easy to sit in your tracksuit pants and indoor clothes all day. Whether you're at your desk or on the sofa, you can easily start eating bad food and maybe drinking more.

It is SO important to keep a balanced lifestyle. Do try and do exercise at least five times a week for around 30 minutes. There's so much choice: apps like Les Mills, free classes on You Tube like the Jump Rope Dudes and Sydney Cummings, and heaps of yoga classes if you need something to calm you.

Eat healthy meals and treat yourself at the weekends. Go outside for a walk! Fresh air, sunshine and trees all work wonders.

If you are worried about your mental health and need some support, try these free helplines:

Rethink Mental Illness: Contact them 9:30am to 4pm Monday to Friday via webchat, email (advice@rethink.org), or phone 0300 5000 972.

SANE: Emotional support line 0300 304 7000 4.30pm – 10.30pm daily.