On March 16th the UK government announced social distancing measures for everybody, not just those who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and other illnesses. We don’t know how long this will last. This is unlike anything most of us have experienced before, and it can feel strange, confusing and overwhelming.
A lot of us will be working from home which 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 look after others during this time? We’ve put together some tips and ideas.
Checking the news and social media about covid-19
The frequent news updates and stories on social media are making it near impossible to avoid news about coronavirus. If this is making you feel anxious, turn off notifications and delete apps if you can’t help but check them throughout the day. You can also use apps like Offtime, which allow you to block certain apps for certain periods of time. Try to only check the news once in the morning and once in the evening – this is enough to keep you up to date, and safe. Any advice you read should come from reliable sources. Check the UK Government website or the NHS website for the most up-to-date advice when it comes to your physical health, travel and work.
Don’t believe everything you see on social media! Be careful whose accounts you’re getting information from. Avoid clicking on coronavirus hashtags or reading comments on news articles if you find the information triggering to scroll through. You can also mute Twitter accounts and WhatsApp groups – the people on the other end won’t be able to tell.
Looking after your mental health while working from home
As many of us are now working from home, we’ve got to navigate this new way of working together. Try to treat your working day like any other, get up in good time before you start work, shower, get dressed, take regular breaks throughout the day and eat properly. Keep your workspace clear and clutter-free (as much as possible).
If you live in a shared house, discuss your boundaries with your housemates so that you all know when it’s time to work vs play. Obviously, this is more difficult if you have children!
Organising teamwork while working from home long-term may be new territory for some businesses. Try to keep in regular contact with people in your team. Have regular video calls and phone calls to try to keep social interactions happening. You even organise a 15-minute virtual coffee break as a team. If you haven’t heard from someone in your team for a while, check-in with them to see if there’s anything they need, or if they fancy a chat.
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. Big changes to how we work can feel very stressful for people, and it’s important your staff know that they can tell you if things aren’t working for them and you can work through the problem together. If you are working on reduced staff numbers, think about making sure that the staff you do have at work have a manageable workload.
Outside of work hours, make time to do all the things you usually enjoy doing. Watch a funny film, call your friends and play games.
If you’re not self-isolating, try and get outside during the day. Walking for 20 minutes can do wonders for your mental health.
Maintaining good mental health throughout this time may be difficult. Keep in contact with friends and family to keep up social interaction and to make sure the other person is coping. Offer to be an arm of support to those who need it. If you’ve got a lot of anxious thoughts, try writing them down in a journal. Sometimes getting it out on paper can help to clear your mind.