As a result of the coronavirus ‘lockdown’, currently in force in the UK, our day-to-day lives have changed drastically. Many of us will now be working from home – in some cases, for the first time. It can be a surprisingly big adjustment, potentially impacting on both our physical and mental health. Here are some useful tips to help you adjust…
Practical Physical Tips
If you’re not set up for working from home, there may be some practical things that you’ll need to consider in order to make it more comfortable.
You may find that you need to lift your laptop on to a riser or stack of books to position it at a comfortable height, particularly if you’re working at a table rather than a desk. Also, use a separate keyboard and mouse where possible. Raising your seating position by sitting on a pillow can also help posture at a dining table if you need to sit higher. It’s important to ensure that you are sitting correctly to avoid back and neck pain.
Make sure that you eat and drink as you would if you were in the office – have a lunch break and eat something decent. You have the opportunity to do this if you are at home and think of the money you could save on shop bought lunches!
You also need to ensure that you develop a routine. This can help with work-life balance, alleviate stress and improve sleep quality. Make sure that you put away your work and log off, if possible, when you have worked your contracted hours each day. Don’t be tempted to answer emails ‘after hours’ – the world won’t come to an end if you answer an email in the morning.
One of the biggest impacts can be the social aspect of work. Have a WhatsApp group, exchange ‘funnies’. Think about having virtual meet ups – if you would normally have a Friday afternoon beer with workmates, there’s nothing to stop you continuing to do that via technology. It also gives you a reason to wash your hair and wear something other than your PJs and a dressing gown. You can (and should) also continue having team meetings via technology and make sure that everyone is included and encouraged to contribute.
Practical Mental Health Tips
Avoid doing things that encourage negativity, and instead do things that help you feel connected with family and friends and keep you emotionally stable.
Avoid over-consuming coronavirus news – restrict yourself to a catch up with the news once or twice a day. It's far better for your mental health to spend as much of your free time as possible doing the things you enjoy – read a book, chat with friends on the phone, re-connect with a home hobby you used to have. Try to channel your energies into something positive.
Think about what you can do to make the most out of your current situation. Is there a new opportunity that you can do something positive with? You may have more free time than you had in the past - so what are some of the ways you can use it to your advantage? You might even be in a position to offer help to other people on a voluntary basis.
Look at https://www.ncvo.org.uk/ncvo-volunteering/i-want-to-volunteer/volunteering-coronavirus for ideas and contacts locally.
Can you do those house repairs that you'd previously been putting off?
Can you learn a new skill that will benefit you when life eventually goes back to normal? Learn a new language that you’ve always wanted to (there are lots of free apps) or learn sign language.
Above all, learn to think differently. The fancy term for this is ‘cognitive re-framing’, but what it amounts to is thinking from a different perspective – for example, change “I’m stuck at home” to “I’m safe at home”, or “I really miss the things I love” to “I’m really beginning to appreciate the things that I love”.
Government guidance on coronavirus can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus