Mental Health while

working from home

Over the past few weeks the teams at Major Players have been lucky enough to have had access to webinars and workshops surrounding the effects of our new working situation in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Arguably, one of the most fundamental and concerning impacts has and will continue to be on people’s mental health while adjusting to working from home in isolation and so the opportunity to listen to thought leaders and innovators in the world of workplace mental health (wherever that is!) has been a real treat and absolutely invaluable.

Rhonda D’Ambrosio has been a key figure in the recruitment industry for many years but most recently has been focused on meeting with businesses to offer training and discussion around the importance of maintaining mental fitness while at work. At the beginning of March she got involved in the project team to create Kite Support “a unique app designed for individuals and employers to support employees through Covid-19” and APSCO recently hosted a discussion with her about the Kite Support Project among other amazing insights.

Matt Knight is the Founder of Leapers, “a community which provides the support needed by anyone working differently”, up until very recently they have been focused largely on helping the self-employed and freelance community however since about 75% of the UK has been unexpectedly flung into the world of working from home they’ve had to broaden their reach to…well everyone! Matt met with us to talk through the basics of maintaining mental wellness during this time.

We really wanted to share some of the tips and advice that both Matt and Rhonda have to offer, particularly with our freelance community, for whom this is bound to be a especially unsettling time. 

This isn’t “just” working from home
The first important point is to recognise is that this isn’t just working from home – even if you have been self employed for years, you will have never had to work under these conditions and everyone is learning how to do this for the first time. The additional pressures of family, isolation and what’s going on in the world around us will be weighing heavily on our productivity and that needs to be acknowledged. Everyone is exhausted!

Keep your brain active
It’s important to strengthen mind sets to sustain this situation in the long term – micro learning will allow a better sense of control and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. The brain is a muscle, it should be treated like any other muscle and this also means taking rest days and allowing it to relax.

Take physical and mental breaks
At the best of times it can be easy to blur the line between where “home” ends and “work” begins when you’re working from home so it’s especially important to set boundaries for yourself and others throughout the day and take downtime.

  • Set a working day i.e. 9-5 and find a “commute activity”, something to do before you start work to help with the journey into work mode. This could be writing a list of the things you need to do today, reading  something relevant to your work, or even some physical exercise (like walking to work). Whatever it is, build it into your daily work routine.
  • Turn off from the news and social media (especially before bed time) to allow yourself a break from the anxiety of these unprecedented times.
  • Respect other people’s working day and boundaries – even if you choose to work outside of the typical working hours, others may not so be mindful of allowing others a break as well.
  • Take holidays in order to help reduce stress, we all need to take a break and recharge as it’s taxing both mentally and physically

Recognising productivity

  • Make lists and tick them off as this gives you a sense of achievement and purpose –  it doesn’t have to be about work.
  • Set limits – a few top line things you need to get done throughout the day and then lower priority tasks which would be “nice to finish” but not essential.
  • Recognise your successes and wins – this will help you stay motivated.
  • Understand in these challenging times you will not be at your most productive or enlightened!

It’s imperative to communicate with friends, family and colleagues as often as you need, but also, not to feel overwhelmed by getting involved in everything.

  • If you have a team or people that you work with regularly open up your lines of communication – keep your google hangout active outside of a specific meeting so you can bounce ideas off as you would in an office.
  • Schedule things in your diary – team catch up, cup of tea, spend lunch breaks together, social events.

Managing a team

  • Make sure you are looking after yourself first so you can better support your team.
  • Remember that no one will be working at their full  potential and there are a lot of other factors in play at the moment.
  • Pay attention to the individuals on your team’s personal situations – are they alone, do they have children, do they have any pre-existing mental health challenges. Now, more than ever, it’s important to understand the pressures that everyone is facing outside of work.
  • Encourage your team to use the Leapers Manual Of Me which will allow you and others to understand their current situation and get the best out of them.
  • Encourage breaks, flexibility and help them to prioritise what’s important.
  • Think about the channels you’re using for different types of conversations
  • Share how you’re doing with others. Your team will be looking for your to lead by example so communicate with them how you’d like them to communicate with you.

Leapers have a huge amount of content available here and there are a lot of other things you can be busying with if you find yourself at a mental or physical loss however it’s also important to recognise that just surviving is good enough. They have created some content specifically for our audiences, accessible here.

Finally here are a few recommendations of apps for relaxation and sleep which may be proving difficult things to do at the moment: