In this article:
- How the Coronavirus crisis is affecting our mental health;
- Eight ways to take care of your wellbeing during a crisis;
- Working from home: heaven or hell?;
- Eight tips on how to be productive and sustain good health while working from home.
In this time of global crisis and huge disruption, keeping calm and carrying on is testing our limits. The Covid-19/ Coronavirus has exposed our human vulnerability and ability to cope with an invisible threat.
It’s natural that our survival instinct and fight or flight response kicks in and our strong responses of fear, anxiety and uncertainty rush to the surface.
Our reactions to fear and anxiety can work for us or against us and others. How we choose to deal with this makes the difference between being ruled and dragged down or tempering this, in order to get through and become more resilient.
Sink or Swim – How the Coronavirus crisis is affecting our mental health
With the spread of the virus, this is not just affecting our social structures, businesses, working practices and physical health, it is affecting our mental health, as well.
We are becoming more anxious, afraid and uncertain about the future. People are becoming suspicious and distrusting. We are seeing fear and panic behaviour with people stockpiling food and false blame regarding the cause and spread.
The economy is suffering, and when this happens, it hits businesses and employment hard, reaching into our pockets.
Our freedom of movement is being limited, and this wakes us up to the reality that something, which for most of us is essential and taken for granted, is now severely restricted. Understandably this makes us extremely insecure.
We can easily succumb to fear and panic, which tends to hinder rather than help, or we can react constructively.
Of course, we may know this logically. However, this is more easily said than done.
Eight Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Wellbeing During a Crisis
Naturally, we have to recognise the dangers and to acknowledge our fear and anxieties.
However, in getting us through safely, there is a need to take any necessary precautions, as well as keep a tight rein on our reactions.
This means constructively handling our stress and not allowing our fears and irrational reactions to get out of hand.
So, in coming out on top of this crisis, how can we best take care of mental health and wellbeing?
1. Take Control
Rather than falling prey to an urge to lay blame, our time and energy are better spent working to understand and deal with the situation constructively.
Being proactive rather than reactive bolsters our mental resilience, enabling us to create beneficial ways to move forward.
2. Limit Exposure
Avoid continually consuming news or talking endlessly about the situation.
Mass media and rumours tend to spread false and sensational information, which only serves to present an inflated perception of the situation. This fuels unsettling emotions and gives way to an overall sense of doom.
Instead, focus on the reality of the situation by gaining relevant details from reputable and trustworthy sources.
3. Gain Support
Talk and connect with people and professionals, who can support you to deal positively with your concerns.
Sharing what is going on in your head can be a great relief. This enables you to gain understanding, guidance and higher perspective, assisting you to cope better.
4. Build Perspective
Maintain focus on the bigger and longer-term picture.
Recognise that crises pass and that there are many other important things which are going on in your life. Taking time to acknowledge, reflect on and appreciate the different aspects of your life not only grounds you, but it also fosters a sense of deep meaning and positivity.
5. Build Social Relationships
Check-in regularly on loved ones, neighbours and those close to you. This can foster a strong sense of community, connectedness and support, which can ease anxiety and fears.
6. Take Care of Your Mental Wellbeing As Well As Those Around You
Take care of your mental wellbeing as well as those around you through monitoring changes in mood, stress and mental health status.
Be aware of when you are pushing yourself past your limits and take regular breaks and time off.
7. Engage in Activities which Reduce Anxiety and Fear
For example relaxation exercises, sport and physical exercise, listening to music, reading, playing games, hobbies, getting enough sleep, proper diet and nutrition, watching movies and connecting with family and friends. They can all help to reduce stress and keep you calm.
8. Reduce Risk
Most importantly, if you are at risk, follow any medical and official self- care and safety advice.
Working from Home: Heaven or Hell?
The outbreak of the Covid-19/CoronaVirus has led to masses of people having to work or stay at home, as well as limit their travel and contact with others.
This can be extremely tough, especially when this is not by choice. For some people, this can feel like being under siege.
Working from home is heaven for me. I always hated having to work in open offices, depend on public transport or to drive in the city.
I relish the quiet and lack of interruptions, the flexibility of how I organise and invest my time, being able to shop, go to appointments or out to places when most people are at work, being able to eat home-cooked meals, not having to brave bad weather, miss deliveries or home repair visits.
Although pure joy for me, for many others, working from home or remotely may be their idea of hell or somewhere in between.
The shift to unfamiliar circumstances and new expectations, along with strong feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty can be extremely tough for many people.
What matters most, in coping with these challenges and getting through any crisis, as safely as possible, is how we perceive and manage the situation.
Eight tips on how to be productive and sustain good health while working from home
One of the biggest challenges in working from home is how to sustain good health and perform at your best, to maximise productivity.
1. Focus on the Ups Not the Downs
Positively approaching your situation as a chance to engage and achieve something can be useful.
Adopting a mindset of opportunity rather than loss encourages you to develop new skills and perspectives.
2. Establish a Clear Structure
This provides focus and enables you to stay ahead of the game.
Constructively manage your time, stick to regular times of going to sleep, waking up, eating meals, taking breaks. Connect and communicate regularly with managers and work colleagues.
Plan appointments with people throughout the day/week, especially to check in and see what may be needed.
3. Stay Away from Traps
Avoid falling into unhelpful habits such as staying in your nightclothes, watching excessive amounts of TV or finding reasons not to get on with work.
Having or setting up a designated work room or space can help to prepare you physically and mentally to focus and get on with the business at hand.
4. Don’t Get Sidetracked
Avoiding distractions is probably one of the hardest things to achieve. Mastering discipline for ourselves and others is key.
Set clear boundaries so that you are not tempted to get drawn into unnecessary or long conversations:
- times that you can be interrupted;
- when you will take breaks, go out or have something to eat,
- screen calls etc.
Consider establishing a specific way to contact you when things are urgent.
5. Establish Goals
Setting goals for work tasks and rewarding yourself for fulfilling them provides direction and helps with motivation.
There is no need to beat yourself up if you do not attain all or some of your goals. Simply reassess and adjust accordingly.
Even if all tasks are not achieved a sense of achievement and moving forward are important.
6. Be Creative and Adaptable
Coping with boredom or working alone can be a major obstacle for many people.
Make the most of any opportunity to develop and learn from the situation, as well as to catch up, start, or sort things out.
Connect and share with friends, family, colleagues or on media and platforms, in ways, which feed your interests and support you. These can create useful strategies and build mental resilience.
7. Take Charge of Your Mental WellBeing
Watch out for things such as loss of motivation, feeling emotionally low, tearful, anxious, frustrated, irritated or angry. These could be signs of poor mental health or depression.
It is also important to be aware of unhealthy coping strategies, such as sleeping, drinking alcohol or eating much more than usual or during the day. If necessary, seek support earlier rather than later, from your employer, colleagues, family, friends or mental health professionals.
8. Stay Active and Hydrated
Try to move around as much as possible, drink water or fluids and engage in or find alternatives to hobbies and leisure activities. This can help boost your mood and prevent you from becoming tired or lethargic.
*Extra Tip: Pamper yourself, you deserve it. After all, you need to keep your spirits up.
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