Looking after wellbeing in times of uncertainty

  • By Mercia Group
  • 30 March 2020 14:59

There has been a lot of guidance around remaining productive and motivated as we all settle in to the ‘new normal’ of home working. However, the impact that this extended period of isolation can have on our mental and physical health is often overlooked. We look at some proactive steps we can all take to look after our wellbeing.

Find familiarity in the unfamiliar  

In these times of uncertainty, the disruption to a normal routine can often feel unsettling and stressful. Although in the short term waking up five minutes before your working day may feel nice, in the long term this won’t be good for your wellbeing. Finding and sticking to a routine will be something you can have control over and will help to maintain a sense of normality. Don’t underestimate the power of going to bed and waking up at the same as you usually would, making your bed, getting dressed for a day at the office, or finding a comfortable working space that isn’t your sofa! 

On the same note, don’t feel that this routine must be identical to your usual way of working. Everyone will be adapting to the new challenges working remotely brings. So, if your children are being loud in the background of a team conference call, the dog won’t stop barking when you’re on the phone to a client, or the technology on a video call doesn’t work, this doesn’t reflect on your ability. 


Switch off and maintain a work/life balance 

It can be easy to continue working throughout lunch, into the evenings and at weekends. However, it’s important to clearly mark your lunchbreak, the end of your working day and working week. If there isn’t a clear divide between your professional and personal life (especially when the location they take place in is now the same), this can cause you to feel burned out and stressed. Take time away from the laptop screen at lunch and try to resist the temptation of just checking one or two emails. Instead, use the time for something that matters to you away from work – such as listening to a podcast, cooking a new recipe, facetiming a friend or going for a walk.  


Feed your body and mind 

Whilst it may be tempting to sit at home and snack, what we eat affects how we feel both physically and mentally, so do your best to eat well and keep hydrated. If you enjoy cooking, or want to learn some new skills, now is a great time to upgrade your lunches and dinners. Step away from technology and make something from scratch. Try and create a routine that also includes some physical exercise, as studies show that physical activity is vital in lowering the risk of depression. Simply getting outside in the fresh air for a walk or short bike ride will beneficial – of course making sure to respect social distancing rules.  


Keep connected with colleagues 

Relationships are key to our mental wellbeing and working in a friendly, supportive and connected team is hugely important in a working environment. Stay connected with your colleagues throughout the day and use the opportunity to share your concerns, what you are working on and how you can all help each other. Avoid using email during this time, but instead call or video chat with your team. Don’t feel as though you can’t take some time to chat about other things you usually would – such as television and film recommendations, dinner ideas or anything else you’d chat over whilst making a cup of tea. It will be surprising how uplifted you can feel by taking some time in the day to replicate the social interaction you would usually experience in the office. You could also try putting on virtual social events for you and your colleagues - including video call launches, coffee break chats and virtual birthday celebrations – in order to stay connected. 

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