How we work changed dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects have continued with more people permanently working from home than ever before.
Find out more about how to safeguard your wellbeing while working and spending long periods of time at home.
What is wellbeing?
There are lots of factors that contribute to our wellbeing, this could involve:
- Feeling you are contributing to society
- Your physical, emotional, and mental health
- Living free from abuse and neglect
- Having positive and safe relationships with others
- Opportunities for social and economic stability
- Opportunities to engage in work, study, or training
What is mental health?
There is a strong connection between physical and mental health, and both need to be maintained.
Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
World Health Organisation (WHO)
What are the signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression?
- Loss of appetite
- A lump in the throat
- Tight or aching muscles
- Neck or shoulder pain
How can depression, anxiety and stress affect you?
Different people may experience anxiety, stress and depression in different ways. Some common symptoms include:
- Negative thoughts
- Feeling tired
- Sleeping a lot/not sleeping at all
- Pacing/ not being able to settle
- Heart racing
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of enjoyment in previously enjoyed things
- Under eating/ Over eating
- Increased use of alcohol
It is normal to feel stress in uncertain times.
When we are mentally well we are able to deal with these stresses in appropriate ways. When we are mentally unwell we may struggle and rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
The impact of working from home
The mental strain of working from home is being seen all around the country.
Working from home is causing something being called ‘E-Presenteeism’. This is the idea that people feel they need to show they are constantly working and answering emails. Research from Linkedin says people are on average working an extra 28 hours per month.
Mental health research showed people felt anxious about working from home, and risked burn out if we maintained ‘business as usual expectations’.
86 percent of people surveyed felt the need to prove to bosses they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs.
3 tips to Avoid Working from Home burnout
Maintain physical and social boundaries
Have different clothes for work and relaxation. If you can, use different rooms for work and leisure. You could try taking a walk before work to make it feel like your usual commute.
Maintain temporal boundaries as much as possible
Try to generate a routine, that could be adopting your usual 9-5 working pattern or a new routine that helps you fit in caring responsibilities. Either way, create a routine and try to stick to it. Have clear times for work and relaxation.
Focus on your most important work
What are your immediate tasks? Prioritise these during your working day.
Keep a stress journal
It can be difficult to think how you feel and what makes you feel positive, or in contrast what drains your energy. Keeping a stress journal is a useful way to reflect on your feelings and recognise activities that benefit your wellbeing.
In your stress journal consider:
- How do I know when I’m feeling out of balance/stressed?
- What do I notice?
- What might others notice?
- What gives me energy or makes me feel good?
- What drains my energy?
- What can I change from this week for next week?
So how can you support your wellbeing?
- Talk about your worries or concerns with a friend of family member
- Put sensible limits your consumption of news and social media
- Avoid making assumptions about the future and what it might look like
- Do not compare yourself to others and how they are coping. Everyone deals with things differently.
- Beware of the ‘working from home’ pressure. This might feel like you need to exercise more, cook more and engage in lots of virtual video calls.
- Choose activities that you want to engage in and that will support you to feel positive.
- Take time to reflect and practice self-compassion.
How did the Covid-19 lockdown impact wellbeing?
- In the UK more than 20% of people reported low levels of happiness between 20 and 30 March 2020.
- Half of British adults ‘felt anxious about Covid-19 lockdown’.
- More than 25 million people, 49.6% of the adult population, were affected by high levels of anxiety in late March as the decision to put the UK into lockdown triggered fears about health, job security and making ends meet among half the adult population.
- The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said its regular update on wellbeing showed the number of people over 16 reporting deep levels of concern and stress had more than doubled since late 2019.
Where can I find further advice?
- The Mental Health Foundation have produced guidance on how to look after your mental health during the pandemic.
- The NHS have practical tips on how to manage anxiety.
- The World Health Organisation have produced tips on supporting the wellbeing of children and young people during Covid-19.
- The NSPCC have produced guidance on how to support children’s mental health.
- Mind have created advice relating to mental health and coronavirus.
- Mind have also developed advice about managing your mental health if you are a keyworker, working from home, on furlough or have experienced redundancy during the pandemic.
- The Ann Craft Trust have produced guidance on supporting the wellbeing of young carers during the crisis.
- Listen to Professor Roger O’Sullivan’s podcast which discusses how to manage loneliness during the pandemic.
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