For many of us, we’ve had to completely change our working, living, and social habits. Morning routines that we never even had to think about were turned upside down in March with the work-from-home mandate. What was once a morning commute we never really thought about has become a distant memory.
Looking after your mental health during coronavirus is just as important as looking after your physical health. Checking in with yourself and your mental health should be something you do daily, like washing your hands and wearing a mask. Your physical and mental wellbeing deserve to be cared for – especially while working during these challenging times.
Evaluate your remote working setup
You may have been remote working for months now, or perhaps you’ve started a new job from home, or maybe you’ve just come off of furlough. Whatever your situation, and however long you’ve been doing it for, it’s important to evaluate if your work-from-home situation is as good as it could be.
Consider what you most enjoyed about your workspace pre-coronavirus. Are you missing social interaction – chatting to your colleague while boiling the kettle for your morning cup of tea? Are you finding you end up mostly sat on the sofa rather than that adjustable desk in your office? Do you miss your morning train journey with the hustle and bustle of other commuters?
Make a list of everything you liked pre-coronavirus. Consider how you’ve adapted since. Could you do more to make your everyday better?
Make time for video chats
If you’re missing socialising with your coworkers over lunch or when doing the tea-run, why not suggest a video tea-break with a few colleagues – you’re likely not the only one who misses those chats!
Reach out to colleagues and set up times to video call, whether over lunch or for a quick chat during the day. Five minutes hearing about someone’s weekend can brighten your day just as much as theirs. Maybe you can even suggest a virtual quiz, book club or other activity that can be done from home.
Create social channels
If you haven’t already, talk to your coworkers or employer about setting up a social channel – whether through messenger, Slack or your company’s Intranet. Have a space to share the little random things you’re all experiencing that you would normally share in person. Photos of your pet, what you’re baking (another sourdough experiment gone wild!), what you did at the weekend, your home-working woes – create a virtual community space for sharing.
Check-in on your coworkers too. Encourage one another to drop little hello messages to make sure no one is feeling too alone. You never know how someone’s mental health is doing, and checking-in is just one thing you can do to help one another.
Structure your day
When you can roll out of bed and reach the desk it can be really hard to create and stick to a routine. But this is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health.
Pre-pandemic, perhaps you cycled to work, took the bus and read a book, or walked and listened to a podcast. Now, the distance between your “office” and your duvet might be less than a metre.
The further from your pre-pandemic routine you get, the more isolated you may feel and the more your days begin to blur and it’s much easier to feel detached from reality.
Be sure to structure your day. Set up a wake-up time (and not ten minutes before you start work) and stick to it. Give yourself time to get dressed and do something you enjoy before you sit down to work – whether that’s going for a run, reading, or making a really hearty breakfast!
Take regular breaks. Stand up and walk around. Go outside and get some exercise. Take a lunch break away from your screen. At the end of the day, turn off your work device and walk away from it – don’t keep working just because you’re at home and you can.
Finally, don’t work in your pyjamas! No matter how cosy and comfy they are, they will only pull you further away from reality.
It’s okay to be struggling
If you’re struggling with your work from home situation, it’s okay. This is a really challenging time – don’t be hard on yourself. Acknowledge your feelings, talk them through with trusted friends and family, write down what you’re finding most difficult and consider if there are changes you can make that will help. It may be something you can discuss with your employer to find a better structure that works for you – be honest with them about how your remote working situation is.
Talking through your experience is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your mental wellbeing. If you’d like to speak to a counsellor, click here to find one in your area.