As part of the global response to the pandemic, the citizens of many countries are having to stay at home. However, prolonged isolation can take its toll on mental health. In this Special Feature, mental well-being advocates share their top tips on what you can do to cope with anxiety and stress while stuck at home.
What can people do to look after their mental health while stuck at home?
In a press briefing on March 26, 2020, officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) discussed the challenges that the world is facing in terms of mental and psychological health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Physical distancing and isolation measures, [and] the closure of schools and workplaces, are particularly [challenging for] us, as they affect what we love to do, where we want to be, and who we want to be with,” said Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, in his opening remarks.
Unique challenges of working from home
Working from home may seem like the dream set-up for some, as it offers the possibility to tap into that latent creativity from the comfort of a cozy, familiar environment.
However, it can also bring a unique set of challenges — especially as an enforced measure.
We all need to feel safe and supported through this crisis. Protecting our health by staying home means protecting our mental health too. Support is always available. Together we will get through this. pic.twitter.com/7sAZ57QDXa
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) April 1, 2020
“While [being able to work from home] can empower and up-level our working life, if taken to the extreme, we end up being switched on the whole time,” Diggory told MNT.
“In many cases, the boundaries between home life and work-life can become blurred, and these boundaries are what enable us to stay healthy and well,” she cautioned.
In an enforced “work from home” situation, people may end up continuously sharing a space with other family members, and they may start to feel as though they have to attend to both domestic tasks and work assignments at the same time.
Managing stress while working from home
So, how can people address these challenges and reduce the amount of stress that comes with working exclusively from a home environment?
“Firstly, accept that stress levels will likely be higher for many at this time — whatever you’re feeling is valid considering the current context,” said Hounsell.
That is why, “[w]hen working from home, prioritizing your mindset and well-being at the start of the day is essential,” Diggory told us.
One helpful way to set boundaries so that a person does not become overwhelmed with competing tasks is to create a physical space that is for work only, where the person will not face non-work-related disruptions and interruptions.
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“Where possible, it is worth designating a space that is yours for work only. This separation can support you physically and mentally, and help get you into the appropriate headspace each time you settle into work.”
“If you live with family, a partner, or housemates, you could […] [have] a chat with them about what boundaries you need to put in place in order to ensure a healthy and productive mindset,” she suggested.
What can employers do?
There are also adjustments that employers can make to ensure that their employees do not hit burnout mode in record time while working from home.
Hounsell said that there are a few questions that employers should ask themselves if they want to help their employees maintain their well-being and remain productive.
These questions are:
- Do my team members have the right physical set-up, [such as] equipment to do their work remotely, platforms for online communication (including video calls), and a comfortable chair and desk set-up?
- [Do they have] meaningful connection opportunities, beyond meetings, that focus on the work? People need time to have fun and engage in supportive chats with colleagues just as they would in the office.
- [Do employees have] an appropriate workload considering [their] change of circumstances? There are many people who are working alongside home-schooling, supporting others at risk, [and] self-isolating.
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If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” employers should aim to address these issues to support their employees in achieving an adequate work mindset away from the office.
Hounsell also advised “[r]egular check-ins and signposting to supports available, so that everyone’s well-being is being nurtured on a daily basis,” as well as “[opening] a feedback loop” to address any “communication challenges” that may appear due to the remote work setting.
Source: Online News Media with inputs from GVS News Desk