In light of recent events, Jill Mead – co-founder of workplace mental health organisation, TalkOut – has shared some tips below to help UK workers maintain good mental health and wellbeing while working from home.
We are all experiencing a surreal and unpredictable time in our lives, with measures and restrictions around coronavirus changing every day. One such change is the advice from the government advising that office workers should now work from home where possible.
Many practical steps have been shared in maximising productivity whilst working from home but what about maintaining good mental health and wellbeing? Jill Mead – co-founder of workplace mental health organisation, TalkOut – shares her tips.
Try and keep a positive mindset
While it might sound difficult at a time like this, keeping a positive mindset is key in managing stress and anxiety levels. You can do this by taking time each day to reflect on what is important to you in life; keeping a gratitude journal; or noting down one thing every day that you’re proud of or that you’ve accomplished.
Practising positive affirmations can also boost mood and wellbeing so don’t forget to remind yourself that this will pass, that we’re all in this together and that we can all build strength and resilience when faced with adversity.
Loneliness and lack of social connection can contribute to greater anxiety and depression so at this unusual time, it’s really important that we make an effort to communicate with one another.
Rather than emailing colleagues, opt for video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, use FaceTime, or at the very least, make a phone call. Having these real conversations with colleagues – where you can talk about the regular stuff as well as work related activity – will give you the social interaction you need and help normalise your day.
Create your unique routine
During times of uncertainty, routine can help us to feel a sense of control. We all have ways of working that work better for us, and when we look at our mental wellbeing, we are all at different points in our journey.
Try getting out of bed at a set time in the morning, have a shower and get ready, eat breakfast, and do whatever else you would normally do as part of your working day routine. At the beginning of every week, write down and verbally go through with your team what you’ve got on for the week using video conferencing. You can use this time to set goals, agree strategies and celebrate achievements from the week before too.
Keep a to-do list just as you would at work to help keep on top of tasks and reflect on what you’ve accomplished that day.
Take short, regular breaks
When working from home, it is a lot easier to find that three hours have passed without a break – you’ve just kept your head down to get the task done.
As well as having a clear break away from your laptop for your lunch, short and regular breaks every 90 minutes can help boost your wellbeing. During this time, do things that you know help you to relax – this might be listening to music, getting some fresh air, looking out at the sky, or calling a loved one. The aim of these couple of minutes is to take your mind away from your work so that you have regular re-charge points throughout your day.
Check-in and talk out
In our working day, there are likely to be triggers that cause our stress levels to surge, our mood to dip and our anxiety to heighten.
We can sometimes feel irritable, upset or withdrawn but usually we have colleagues or managers who might notice these behaviours and look out for us. Working from home without a support network around you means it’s really important to recognise your feelings and talk out to someone if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. Managers still have a duty of care to their employees whether they’re working from home or not so do take the step to reach out if things are getting hard.
Avoid too much news
This is understandably a scary time for all of us but it’s important to avoid things that might feed into our anxieties. Try to avoid constant news updates and stick to reputable news sources to avoid the scaremongering headlines or fake warnings that have been circulating.
It is also absolutely fine to tell colleagues, friends or family that you will be taking a break from social media or WhatsApp if it’s all become too much.
TalkOut is the voice for mental health in the workplace and has one mission: – to make it okay not to be okay in the workplace. Working hard to break the stigma around mental health in the workplace, TalkOut aims to disrupt the way mental health is viewed and encourage businesses to take the mental health of their employees just as seriously as their physical health.
Qualified in clinical psychology, psychological therapies and counselling, TalkOut’s talented team delivers credible, practical and effective training and strategies to help businesses and individuals cope with stress and mental health issues in the workplace. A team of passionate changemakers, the TalkOut team use their own experiences of mental health combined with their professional expertise to shift the way mental health is viewed and treated in the workplace.