COVID-19 is affecting everyone, now and in weeks to come.
Most of us are being asked to work remotely to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While the immediate health benefits of avoiding shared physical workspaces are obvious, the mental health consequences that come with working remotely may not be as obvious.
Many will experience higher than normal levels of stress and anxiety as the pressure from working remotely begins to build. New demands on you will emerge as the home becomes the workplace and your new work colleagues are your children and loved ones.
Just as COVID-19 has brought changes in how we see the world you may need to change the way you think about your wellbeing during this time.
For most people when they think of wellbeing they concentrate on their physical wellbeing and the mental, emotional and social benefits they get from that. But Gyms are closing, people may not want to brave crowded stores to buy certain food and social distancing and self-isolation will keep people inside for weeks. Whilst physical wellbeing should still be high on your agenda, for the most part it’s protected in Self Isolation, you may however forget your mental, social and emotional wellbeing.
Your mental, emotional and social wellbeing are equally as important as your physical wellbeing, and to get you started here are 6 skills from our award-winning resilience programmes:
1. Work in 90-minute chunks to boost energy and focus.
Research shows that 90 minutes is about the amount of time you can maintain high levels of alertness, focus and concentrate before you begin to become less effective. Optimal performance requires regular rest breaks of anywhere between 5-20 mins every 90 minutes. Scientists call this the Ultradian Rhythm.
This is a natural rhythm that occurs throughout the day and affects everybody.
2. Do one thing at a time.
Avoid switching tasks and multi-tasking. Picture this: you are taking a call and writing an email whilst entertaining your children. Sound familiar? This behaviour is typical of busy lives at home and work. How often do you manage a busy schedule or high workload by multi-tasking?
What you may not realise is this behaviour could be working against you. Some of you might even argue you are good at multi-tasking, but the reality is that studies show you can lose up to 25% of your productivity if you are multi-tasking.
3. Spot strengths in others, let them know what you've seen and everyone benefits
Working in close proximity to loved ones can bring different challenges so remember to look for the good stuff in them when times get stressful. Strengths Spotting allows you to connect with others, validating the qualities that make them feel valued and understood. This is crucial when around one another for long periods of time.
Strengths Spotting can be done anywhere with anyone at any time. The skill is to look out for them in others. This is a skill and it needs to be deliberate. Here are some things to get you started:
- Look back at people’s previous tasks and activities. What strengths do you see when you take the time to look?
- Is there that “go-to” person that everyone takes advice from or perhaps a certain someone that always offers to help others or perhaps the funny one?
- Look for the moments when people around you are more engaged and enjoying what they’re talking about. Often their bodies will start to lean into the conversation, their body language might become more animated and the tone of voice and pace of speech tend to be uplifted.
4. Once you've become aware of strength in others it's important that you find ways to nurture it
Using and encouraging the strengths of others will build their confidence, self-worth, productivity and connection with you. They’ll become more engaged, more animated and happier. For example:
- If they like a joke, share a funny video with them.
- If they have strong opinions, ask them their thoughts on anything.
- If they enjoy things clean and tidy – do the washing up.
These small things can make a big difference.
5. Learn to let the small things go.
6. Keep a routine.
Whilst working remotely has many advantages in terms of flexibility it can start to work against you if don’t keep to some semblance of a routine. The human brain likes patterns and certainty and so a routine supports this. For example:
- Do something for yourself before you start work.
- Check your e-mails when you begin work. Not the moment you roll out of bed.
- Create a comfortable and private space in your home if you can.
- Plan exercise and social breaks into your diary.
- Turn off social notifications before and after working hours.
- Keep your bedtime.
All of this will add up to a feeling of normality.
Working remotely - Summary
Your wellbeing is more than just your physical health so it’s important to look after your mental emotional and social health as well. Especially when working remotely. Doing so will give you the emotional and mental strength to:
- manage your responses appropriately to troubling situations and difficult people
- hone your ability to focus and not be distracted
- consider options carefully
- make good decisions consistently and
- build close relationships with the people you work and live alongside.