Whilst the world deals with the impact of COVID-19, people are remote-working under enforced situations, we've gathered our insights on how best to look after your mental health whilst under these challenging circumstances.
There's a lot going on right now, so it's understandable to feel stressed about work, income, family and health - so be kind to yourself, don't feel you have to have it all worked out, you don't have to be 100% productive and pretend everything is normal.
There are some brilliant guides online of how to embrace remote working, how to create really strong communication and support for each other whilst working remotely (there are links at the bottom of this page) - but it can be easy to feel frustrated, bored, or worse, feelings of low mood. We want to equip people with some tangible ideas on how to work well when in enforced isolation.
Eat well, sleep well, get some exercise in.
Even if you're not infected, your physical health and mental health are intertwined, and whilst there is heightened anxiety, it's even more important to make sure you're getting good sleep and eating well.
Exercise is even more critical, as you'll be more sedentary than usual. There's no shortage of videos online for little exercise routines you can do from home to suit your taste.
Without the patterns of getting up, going to work, and returning home - it can be hard to establish good boundaries between work and home, especially if you're in the same space for a prolonged period of time.
Build yourself a structure for your day - ideally stick to what you did before, the same time waking up, getting dressed, having breakfast, the commute (use the time to read, listen to a podcast, learn something new, do some exercise), and then your working day. Equally, at the end of your day, shut your computer off, stop checking emails, and 'finish working' at the normal time.
Build in time for lunch breaks, cups of tea, even slacking off. There can be a sense of 'having to show you're working' constantly when you're working from home, but if you've agreed what work is to be done, rather than just being present, having time to relax and do other things is critical. Check facebook, plan a holiday, chat with Susie in accounts, do all the thing you'd do at work.
It's really easy to lean heavily on digital tools when you're remote, slack, email, texts, intranets, but these all lack the nuance of face to face and non-verbal communication.
Mix up your use of communication forms: make a phone call, do a video chat, do a group call. Whilst lots of people dislike conference calls or video - they're a much quicker way of communicating, and you'll feel less disconnected.
Even try leaving your voice chat open: create a group voice call with your team and leave it running, so people can work away and pipe up any time. It's odd at first, but when you start hearing the little things in the background like a dog barking, or someone yawning, it can help with disconnection.
It's increasingly looking like we might be under restrictions for a while - so now is the time to start thinking slightly longer term about what you can do to improve how you work from home - building healthy routines, setting up an effective workspace, and building better communication with your teams. Don't panic - you don't need to get it all fixed right now, but reflect on what is working, share what you feel isn't, and regularly check-in with your teams on discussing what could be improved.
Most importantly - listen and share.
Take time to ask "how are you?" to your colleagues - and listen for the answer. If it's "fine", ask again and listen to the answer. Give people an opportunity to share if they're struggling, and talk it through.
Lead by example and share how you're feeling, so when someone asks you, be honest. If you're struggling, say so.
Often, just the simple act of saying it out loud helps, and helps others know they can be honest if they're struggling too.
If you are really feeling low or struggling with feelings of isolation, there are people who can help - see the end of this guide.
Whilst quarantine can be challenging, remember this is not forever - if we all pull together, and follow guidance to stay in place, and flatten the curve, we'll beat this thing.
Unfortunately - it's not just physical health which is a problem. Poor mental health will become as much of a risk as the virus itself. If you're reading about the virus, read trusted sources, voices of authority such as NHS and WHO, and avoid speculating articles with leading headlines.
Keep track of any concerns by writing them down in a notebook, and then try to let go of the worry. If you're feeling at risk emotionally or physically, call 111 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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