Whether you’re a professional or not, mental health is key to living a productive fulfilling life and safeguarding it in these anxious, unsettling and uncertain times goes without say. Here are a few tips on how to safeguard this vital part of our lives during the Corona virus pandemic:
- Limit your pandemic news consumption
First, ensure you are getting the news, updates and general information on the pandemic from credible reliable sources such as the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and accredited media outlets. Forwards from colleagues, family and friends should be fact-checked especially before consuming them as the ‘gospel-truth’ and forwarding them to others in your networks.
Second, restrict the time you spend checking up and updating yourself on the current pandemic news , cutomize your social media feeds to mute information from sources that might not be credible and schedule your social media and news ‘fixes’ to a specific time during the day to avoid having interruptions from pop-ups and notifications from your various social media channels and news feeds.
- Create Structure in your day
Maintain a level of normalcy in your daily routine while working from home. Working from home is strange and difficult for most of us. Let’s face it, most if not all of us professionals get up in the morning, prepare ourselves and leave our homes to go to work i.e. another location away from our homes! Now we have to contend with the fact that we are all in the house together: the parents, the children and the nannies and househelps. This means that carving out a place you can demarcate as your own ‘office’ is a challenge in itself. Having silence or at least some form of peace and quiet to think and work, is almost impossible with children and house chores bidding for your time.
All these challenges notwithstanding, strive to work together as a team and have everyone in the home know what time working hours begin and end and where you shall be working from in order to limit interruptions and give everyone an opportunity to achieve their objectives for the day, children included.Wake up, dress up and show up to your new office space each day.
- Stay connected
Keeping in touch with your family, friends, collegaues and clients on a regualr basis in times like these cannot be over-emphasized. Humans are social creatures and therefore to deprive oneself of social interaction will definitely have negative consequences on your well being. Before you begin the video and tele-conferencing meetings, start with an informal chat to touch base with your colleagues and clients. This will not only start off the meeting on a warm touch before you begin to ‘talk shop’ but will have the effect of making them feel that you are genuinely concerned for their well being.
Maintaining the social contacts and connections with your family and friends is vital, as it is with them that we are more at ease with (in most instances) than with our colleagues and clients. Through these social networks, we have an outlet to share our emotions thereby helping in managing and relieving stress as well as maintaining a form of normalcy in times of uncertainty. Communicate via social media, e-mails, texts and calls but for that special touch especially when it comes to family and friends, video calls (now that we are living in the age of isolation, quarantine and social distancing) will have that lasting effect.
- Establish Boundaries
Now more than ever, we need to pay special attention to work-life balance. With the obfuscation of official office or working hours due to the fact that the office environment has now been replaced with working from home and one can just move a few steps from their bedroom to their ‘office’ in the living room or other space within their home, we are slowly moving towards a 24-hour work space.
To avoid burn-out in not only yourself but also your employees, communicate openly and honestly with your employees and colleagues on daily work expectations on work output, timelines for response to e-mails and requests and above all, work as a team to agree on normal working hours. Pre Covid-19, working from home was viewed as more flexible than working from the office, If we are not careful, the tides could change and working from home could become more tasking especially in light of the fact that we are juggling other responsibilities while we are home during this pandemic.
- Take Breaks from Work
If you were in your office, aside from the routine calls of nature, you would, at least once in the course of the day, get up from your desk and walk over to chat with your colleague or the receptionist to catch up with them on some show on Netflix, their relationship with their significant other, the weekend plan, etc. Not to mention, the much needed lunch break to re-fuel your body. Working from home has placed us in a situation in which we now appreciate these trivial routine banalities and actually long for them. In as much as we cannot interact with others physically, take a break from your machine, stand up and flex your legs, walk over to the kitchen for a cup of tea, chat with your children, call a friend and go out for a short walk to breathe in the fresh air and take in some sunshine (of course observing the guidlines issued by the Ministry of Health). Physical activity has been known to aid in helping to ease anxiety and improve your mood, Not to mention the benefits of Vitamin D on your body!
- Seek Help and Offer Help
If you feel that you are struggling, reach out and communiacte to others, secifically to those who can be of assitance to you. Do not take anything that is out of the ordinary for granted. Do not feel ashamed to reach out to a mental health professional. This pandemic shall be the breaking point for the mental health stigma globally.
Conversly, remember that when you help someone else, you feel better. Seek avenues to be of assistance to those around you and in your communities. If you are in a position to, offer relief to those who are having challenges with meeting their immediate basic needs. Reach out to your social networks and offer an ear in case anyone is facing challenges coping in this period.
Taking care of yourself is the most vital at the end of the day. Eat right, ensure you are taking in a balanced diet and are hydrating adequately. Maintain good sleeping patterns and ensure you are sleeping between 7-9 hours every night. A daily exercise regime should also be incorporated into your routine. Anything from a 15 minute walk to a 1 hour full-body work-out can do the trick, youtube workout regiments abound! Also, don’t forget to do something that you enjoy. Take advantage of this period and reflect on your priorities and what’s important to you. Block out some time each day to read a book, learn something new, listen to music or a podcast. meditate and commune with God, anyhting that brings you real joy.
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