So what can workers do to help maintain their good mental health? One way is to find ways to put skills that you can no longer use in the traditional ways to good use. For example if your strength was customer service then you can find a new way of serving the public. That does not need you to be in the work place. In your spare time, you can host a podcast. Or you might even mask up and volunteer. To distribute hampers to people who have found themselves without an income. This way you are still doing what you do best. And what gives you the most satisfaction. Without putting anyone at risk of contracting the virus. It also gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a contribution to the society. And gives you a sense of purpose.
Check in often with your team members.
Another way of improving your sense of well being is by keeping in touch with your colleagues. Although you might not be able to physically meet up with them. This can be done for work or even socially if that is what you need. Because you are working from home and your movements are restricted. You don’t have to isolate yourself from everyone from the workplace. Check in often with your team members. Let them know what you have been doing and get updates from them. When people are working hard. And making progress they often need the positive reinforcement. That comes from other workers even if they are not actually working as a team. Knowing that what you are doing is appreciated. And admired is a great boost to your emotional wellbeing. So share your successes and help others share theirs.
It is also helpful to chat with your colleagues outside of work. Everyone is experiencing the same stresses that you are. It can be helpful to speak to others either to share your concerns. Or to forget about it all for awhile by talking about something completely different. There are several options for establishing contact electronically. Once connected you can decide how you want to spend the time you share. Maybe you can share a glass of wine. Or talk about the latest movies you have watched online. The new recipes you have tried. Or you want to share a quick greeting and ensure that the other staff members are okay. And coping with the changes in their lives that living in a pandemic has brought. Some workers even arrange to have a meal ‘together’ virtually on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you are thinking you have no time. Think about all the hours you would normally spend getting to and from work.
Instead of rolling out of bed five minutes before you start work. Get going a bit earlier and use that time in the morning to reach out to your co-workers. You can connect in whichever way you prefer so you can text message them. Or call them on the phone or if you feel up for it first thing in the morning you can do a video call or meeting. If you are not a morning person you can use the time you would usually spend making your way home. This time has the advantage of being the end of the day so you can even add a drink to the routine. After connecting, try not to go back to work. These connections do not have to be lengthy but they should be regular.
Make time to connect with each other.
Some workers manage their time by breaking up the work day into sections. About half an hour long the sections are separated by five minutes breaks. Some find it useful to do this along with a colleague. To spend their breaks connecting with each other. This helps in managing your time as well as protecting your mental health while having regular connections with another person. There is so little opportunity to make physical connections with other workers. It is better to keep cameras on during video calls more than you might be used so you can see another face. This is especially important for those who are working from home and who live alone. And for those who are feeling desperate for human contact. But who don’t need to talk to someone else. It might be also helpful to work alongside a video of another person who is doing the same.
Set and adhere to boundaries that separate work from home.
Because you are working from your home it can become very easy to tilt the work-life balance in favour of work. There is no clocking out. Or other signals that the work day is over so for many working from home. The distinction between work and home life gets blurred. They end up working longer hours, sometimes late into the night. Put extra strain on their mental health. The solution to this is to set and adhere to boundaries that separate work from home. This requires a certain amount of discipline. You can begin by setting up a designated home office. Somewhere that you can come to in the morning and leave at the end of the work day. This may be harder for some than others depending on your living conditions but it’s worth trying to make it work. It doesn’t have to be a large space.
Find a designed work space that you can move away from at the end of the day.
Somewhere that can be designated as a work area that you can move away from at the end of the day. If there are children in the home they should be made aware of the boundaries between home and work areas. And made to respect them. Items such as your lap top should be left in this area at the end of the day. If possible to signal that that part of your day is over. It is also possible to determine a time to end work on a regular basis. Although there would have to be some flexibility in this area. There will be days when you have to work beyond that time to complete certain projects.
Try to find or create after work activities.
It becomes easier to leave work when there are things to be done after work. So try to find or create after work activities; things to look forward to that lift your mood at the end of the day. For some this might be a back yard garden for others games with the children. Still others might enjoy exercise such as a run or a bike ride. All these are activities that take away some of the stress of working remotely. And dealing with the uncertainty of the pandemic. And the restrictions that accompany it. Many people enjoy cooking or baking. Married people might look forward to spending some time talking with their spouses. Or even helping with the household chores. Do whatever you enjoy for an hour or two. Clear your mind and improve your mood. Stay away from the news during this period as that can only add to your stress and uncertainty.
Take time to examine your feelings and to take control of them.
Alongside all the activities that distract from your mental challenges. It is also important to take some time to examine your feelings and to take control of them. Yes these are very challenging and unprecedented times. If you want to survive them with your sanity intact. You have to work at seeing the positives in the situation. Every situation has positives. Practices such as meditation and yoga can be helpful in maintaining your mental equilibrium. If they work for you, you should take full advantage of opportunities to practice. If something else helps then do that; whatever works for you is what you should use.
Because the virus is new there is also an air of uncertainty as experts are learning as they go along. No one knows exactly how bad the situation can get or how long it will last. Employees appeared more at ease mentally if they felt they were well protected from infection. And if they believed their families were safe from the disease. It’s helpful for workers to have access to professional as well as social support. This could include online medical advice platforms. As well as hotlines for psychological support and technical support teams.