With UK Lockdown expected to extend up to another three weeks, managing and supporting mental health for workers has never been more crucial than before. As the UK experience a sudden rise in remote work self-isolation and health-related anxiety, this has created a general sense of unease for many people and intensified existing mental health issues for many more.
A YouGov survey has highlighted how the outbreak has impacted the overall mood in the UK, with 48% of Brits feeling stressed and 42% feeling frustrated. One in three Britons feels unprepared, with 62% of adults saying they feel anxious or worried. This number is much higher in the younger age group, with 80% of under 25s saying existing mental health issues have gotten worse since the outbreak began.
Remote working has its perks, but a lot of people are feeling isolated right now. Office banter is missed most about work since lockdown, according to a study by Vodafone, 41% of office workers say they miss the daily laughter.
In these turbulent times, social connection is vital to our wellbeing. Without the ability to go out and socialise in the way we usually would, we have to be more creative and have more intention in our connection with others during this lockdown scenario. In some ways, the enforcement of rules around movement have caused us to slow down. This actually gives us the chance to connect on a deeper level.
Four Things Workers Can Do to Manage Stress
1. Get a Better Night’s Sleep:
Around 22% of Brits already suffer from insomnia, but stress and anxiety around COVID-19 have more people feeling sleep-deprived. Some of the best ways to create a better sleep pattern include reducing caffeine intake, turning off screens, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and ensuring our bedrooms are as dark as possible.
2. Take a Digital Detox:
With little control over the situation and our social feeds jam-packed with COVID-19 related news and uncertainty, now is a good time to limit the amount of media we consume. The goal is to ensure you are informed enough to make decisions, but not so overloaded with news headlines that it induces anxiety. A good idea is to choose a few authoritative resources and check in with them daily, while muting channels that disrupt your sense of wellbeing or using a tool to manage screen time.
3. Be Strict Around Work-Life Balance:
It’s important to schedule the day into bitesize chunks and work in waves. Honour your ultradian rhythms, which run between 60 to 90 minutes, and then take 15 to disconnect and take a break. By working in waves, we become energised and find it easy to switch off from work when the end of the days comes. If we can’t disconnect from work, we face the real possibility of burnout and making mistakes. I have my clients have a digital sunset, where they tidy their workspace ready for the following day and put everything work-related in that space. They visualise shutting down from work, and then walk around the block again, this time leaving work, and returning home. It’s crucial also to schedule enjoyable things in the evening. Do a Zoom call with family and friends, or partake in hobbies and interests that are not work-related.
4. Create a Calm Workplace:
It’s not always easy to find an ideal space to work from at home. When deciding which space to work from, look for an area that has natural light and is temperate, has fresh air and minimal distractions. It is vital that the space be free of clutter, and have comfortable furniture.