The novel Coronavirus strain, or COVID-19, has been presenting unique and new challenges to people all around the globe. The fact that we are currently having to navigate uncharted waters, and find new ways to keep ourselves safe from home, can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
Employees who work a standard 9 to 5 office job may not be used to working from home, full time. Unlike freelancers, they may be used to their routine, that is, being surrounded by colleagues, and the daily commute to and from work. The disruption of a daily routine can cause restlessness, anxiety, mood swings, and strain (mental, physical, and financial). These feelings are completely natural, and the current uncertain scenario can lead to an increase in stress levels.
We must take our mental health seriously, especially in times like these. While we’re protecting ourselves from the threat of COVID-19, we have to remember that even though we’re in quarantine and self-distancing it doesn’t mean that we subject ourselves to social isolation.
Listed below are some of the vital ways you can stay (mentally and physically) healthy while working from home:
Maintaining a Healthy Wellness Routine:
- Keeping a consistent schedule – When you create and stick to a schedule, then you can plan your day out well and increase your productivity too. Also, set up a designated workspace at home, and don’t forget to take breaks in your schedule.
- Stay virtually connected with friends and family– Talk about your fears and concerns with the people you love and trust. Sometimes, having an open conversation with a loved one will help with a bad mood.
- Keep your immune system strong – This one is easy to follow; all you have to do is wash your hands for 20 seconds with antibacterial soap and get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet, drink water, and take your vitamins.
- Limit physical contact and always think about personal hygiene – This is important to prevent the spread of the virus. If you’re ill then stay at home, disinfect your surfaces with antibacterial wipes, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Sticking to a healthy workout routine – Having a consistent workout routine is not only good for your body but your mind as well. Even if you don’t feel like doing exercises at home, you should move around the house. You can incorporate some planks, jumping jacks, stretches, or even some Zumba sessions. These activities help reduce stress and increase endorphins. You can look up workouts online, and follow them whenever you feel like it.
- Get some fresh air – You can go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air, but only if circumstances allow it. Ensure that you stay six feet apart from other people and avoid any areas that have a gathering of more than five people.
- Stay informed all the time – Yes, the news can be scary and it can trigger anxiety. But, it’s also important to know the current scenario of the world and how much progress is being made to combat the virus. Always remember to stay informed through reliable sources like WHO and CDC websites.
- Reduce your media consumption – Even though it’s important to stay informed, you need to limit the media consumption to avoid stress and anxiety. Avoid continuous consumption of media like news and social media because it can get quite overwhelming and trigger stress and anxiety levels. Keep a few media sources handy, reliable ones.
- Keep boundaries with your work schedule- When working from home, it can be quite easy to let it take over your whole day. Since there is no commute involved, you may want to start working the moment you wake up and keep working just before going to bed. This routine can have negative impacts on your health, and increase your stress levels as well. So, you should stick to a reasonable working schedule that sets healthy boundaries with your employers and co-workers.
- Redirect your energy – Instead of just focusing on work and retiring to bed at the end of the day, ensure that you engage in other activities at the end of the day. This will keep you from losing your mind and help reduce your procrastination levels, as well. Spring clean your room or house, cook a new recipe, read that book you always wanted to, indulge in some arts and crafts, play some music, listen to podcasts, create a workout routine, and so on.
Managing your health conditions:
- Continue with medication and treatments – Even though your routine is changed, you will have to stick to your medication schedule. If your symptoms change during the lockdown period, ensure that you contact your therapist and medication provider, and inform them of your condition.
- Respond to COVID-19 symptoms – If you feel that you are coming down with the COVID-19 virus, then visit your medical care expert immediately. This includes calling your doctor immediately so that you can start talking to them about the next steps. This virus has strained hospital resources so it’s always best to get directions for a primary medical professional rather than rushing to the emergency room.
- Identify your warning signs and triggers – This will help your stress and anxiety episodes.
Managing support for your employees:
Many organizations will want their employees to work from home, in these times it’s very important to promote and encourage consistent communication with your employees. Here are some tips that employers and HRs can take on when supporting their employers.
- Empathize and be available – Employers need to understand that employees can feel anxious and overwhelmed during the pandemic. So, you need to ensure the staff that you are ready to answer all their questions and resolve them efficiently.
- Use communication tools to stay connected – Make use of virtual meeting tools for regular check-ins and communication.
Encourage online training – This is a great time to encourage employees by starting online training. This will serve as a positive distraction and help them sharpen their existing skills as well.
Dr. Satish Koul | Senior Consultant & Director Internal Medicine | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram