Remote working before the pandemic was a very different experience to the one many of us are going through now. The fact that we’re in lockdown means we will all be experiencing a greater level of stress and anxiety over the coming weeks and months.
In the summer of 2003 I found myself unemployed, and after repeatedly failing to even get an interview, my self-worth had taken a serious knock. The reason I’m telling you this is that during this difficult time I cut myself off from the rest of the world, stopped meeting up with friends and family and I was only leaving the house to go to the supermarket. To cut a long story short: I had unintentionally self-isolated myself, and I learnt some important lessons about how easy it is to get into physically and mentally unhealthy habits when in that situation.
Mental health advice when working from home
With a mix of personal insight and advice from mental health organisations, I’ve written a guide offering some tips on how to adjust to home working in lockdown conditions:
1. Have a workday routine
Plan your working hours and include breaks. Having a schedule will allow you to maintain focus, avoid over-working in the evening and hopefully help prevent procrastination. Having a routine during the day is doubly important if you are living with young kids as it allows you to coordinate childcare duties.
2. Creating a work desk at home
Beds and sofas are comfy for sleeping and watching TV, but if you’re planning on working from them for hours, they are not good for your back. In whichever room is quietest, set up an uncluttered desk with a chair that has back support. If you’re working from a laptop, plug-in a full-size keyboard and mouse.
3. Healthy body, healthy mind
Factor in some exercise into your daily routine. There are some great living room exercise videos available on YouTube but a daily jog, walk or cycle can be a good substitute. A balanced diet will also help maintain concentration and boost your natural immune system.
4. Stay informed with reputable sources
Social media is a breeding ground for myths and conspiracy theories (5G is not responsible for Covid-19!). Understand that the threat is important but only take advice from government-run public health sites (PHE) or reputable news organisations (BBC, CNN, Economist). Try and limit the number of times you check the news too. It is important to stay informed but constantly checking the news can increase your stress and anxiety levels.
5. Keep talking
Especially if you’re self-isolating by yourself, it is very important to have face-to-face video conversations with other people at least once a day. Schedule regular chats with friends, family and work colleagues. Video chat systems like Zoom, WhatsApp and Facetime are even better than a telephone call and conferencing a group of people is even better.
6. Make time for fun
With so much to be serious about, it’s important to make an effort to engage in some fun activities. Your company may set up team activities (quizzes, conference calls for non-work related chats) or challenges (bake a cake, silly hat Fridays). Whatever they are, try to make an effort to engage with them. If your company hasn’t set these kinds of things up, volunteer to organise them.
7. Speak up if you’re not well
Don’t suffer in silence. If you are feeling low, speak to your line manager or HR representative. We are all in this together and sometimes a chat about how you feel can make a huge difference.
I hope the above tips help you to stay happy and healthy through this lockdown, and if you’re an employer, read our guide to supporting your staff through lockdown, since things are easiest when we all help each other.
If some of your anxiety stems from coronavirus related worries, also check out our Covid-19 Business Resources page, which includes a lot more resources like this one, but with more of a focus on technical issues and solutions.
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