Mental Health Week provides us with a time to reflect on how we are feeling during the current COVID 19 pandemic and whether we have the best strategies in place to cope with everything that life is throwing at us right now.

 

Working from home and working well

We’ve all been heartened to hear stories of how the pandemic has given many workers the opportunity to appreciate a better work life balance. Time at home versus the daily commute, lunch breaks sharing home-made fayre with family members, and a rare chance for self-development, education, and upskilling.

More than 6 months on and the reality of remote working feels quite different. Video conferencing is exhausting and no one is commenting on your wacky backdrops any longer. There is no line being drawn between when the working day ends and life at home begins, and the only one in the room to learn from and bounce ideas off has 4 paws and a wet nose!

Sometimes even sitting at your desk is to be feared as that’s when the feelings of isolation mixed with never having a moment to yourself can creep in. A constant state of anxiety about finances, job security, how well the children are coping. The distance between you and your family members, friends, and colleagues.

Perhaps the most daunting thought of all is when this nightmare is going to end – by Christmas? In time for the summer holidays? When we have a vaccine? Never?

The really good news is that there are definite chinks of light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst we may feel just a little bit envious of our colleagues in regions where being back in the office is already the ‘new normal’, it brings optimism and excitement that we’ll all have the chance to be back with our colleagues soon; asking questions, sharing ideas and feeling part of the office fabric and camaraderie.

Working from home – a checklist to support your mental health

Whilst we wait to catch up with our colleagues across the country and the globe, there are a number of strategies that we can employ to ensure that we take care of our emotional well being as well as our physical health.

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/news/working-from-home-a-checklist-to-support-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus/ have provided some tips to protect your mental health when working from home:

Set up routine and structure for your workday — create boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’

Set a routine as if you are going into the office, with a regular start time, and finish time, and a structure for your day, with breaks and exercise scheduled in. This will help you maintain a strong boundary between work and home life, minimise the possibility of work intruding into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day. Creating cues, such as getting changed into your work clothes at the start of the day, and out at the end, can help with this.

Create a specific place in your home where you work (avoid your bedroom)

Studies show that working from home can interfere with sleep, especially for people who find it difficult to switch off from work. Avoid working in your bedroom if possible. It will then become associated with being alert, awake, and switched on.

Stay connected with co-workers and your manager by scheduling regular virtual or phone meetings

Because everyday encounters with colleagues don’t spontaneously happen when we’re working from home, we need to be proactive in organising meetings and social connections to maintain positive relationships. Staying connected with others will help to reduce stress levels, help you feel less isolated, and stay productive. It also helps you communicate with your manager or employees to keep them informed of what you’re working on.

Try a digital detox in the evenings

Technology makes it easier to stay connected 24-7, but the downside is that it can make it difficult to switch off, and separate work and home life. Try a digital detox to help you switch off from work, so you can spend quality time with your family, or do the things you want to do.

Try and get outside at least once a day

If you’re not stuck in self-isolation, try to get outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy some fresh air.

Focus on the silver linings

Working from home can have many benefits. It can improve productivity, reduce distractions, reduce stress, improve work satisfaction, lower the time (and cost) you spend commuting, give you a greater sense of control over your workday, and can even help to avoid challenging colleagues!

Other top tips for maintaining positive mental health include:

  • Exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, and eating well
  • Doing activities you enjoy
  • Staying connected with social supports
  • Managing stress through problem-solving, relaxation, or meditation
  • Thinking in helpful ways.

Make sure you don’t struggle in silence and be kind to yourself

https://mhaustralia.org

https://www.sage.com/en-au/company/sage-foundation/ are privileged to partner with https://www.gotcha4life.org/

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