MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING DURING SELF-ISOLATION AND WORKING FROM HOME
Posted on 29 Apr 2020
WORKING AT HOME AND SELF-ISOLATION
Working from Home
If you are working from home and this is a new experience for you, here are some tips to help you develop a good work routine at home:
• Set up a designated workspace if you can
• Get some exercise – perhaps before you start to work in the mornings, go for a walk.
• Dress for work, don’t stay in your PJ’s all day
• Don’t watch TV during work hours, not even at lunch time
• Have a regular lunch break
• Call people if you can, instead of just emailing them
• Apply the mindset of incident free workplace (IFW) and what you personally took away from the IFW orientations.
The UK government has advised us all to comply with their current advice on self-isolation either because you have symptoms yourself or you are isolating because one or more members of your household has symptoms.
The symptoms are:
• A high temperature and/or
• A new persistent cough
Only contact your GP or 111 if you are not managing to cope with your symptoms at home, they are deteriorating or persisting beyond 7 days. You should not attend your GP, a pharmacy or hospital in person when you are self-isolating.
In some instances, you may have been asked to work at home by your employer as a precaution to stop the spread of the virus.
MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) it is normal to feel lonely and/or stressed when you are self-isolating or working from home, therefore, it is important to look after your emotional and mental health as well as your physical health during this time. If you do need to stay at home, then take care of your mental health and wellbeing. Try to stay in contact with your family and friends and talk to them about how you are feeling. Use FaceTime when you can to speak to people and try to stay positive.
It is important to try and stick to your normal routines as much as possible by having your meals at the same times, regular bedtimes and exercising etc. If you have been asked to stay at home and avoid others, it may be more difficult than expected especially if you have a pre-existing mental health condition.
Hand Washing Anxiety
The NHS, government, and public health information all state that to avoid transmission of COVID-19 we need to engage in regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, use a hand sanitiser if we have no access to soap and water and practice the “catch it, bin it, kill it” routine if we cough or sneeze.
Some mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or can cause us to engage in behaviours to do with hand washing. If you experience this, you may find it more difficult to listen to advice around hand sanitation.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed about hand washing, the organisation Mind has put together some tips on how to deal with it:
• Don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you.
• Let other people know you’re struggling. For example, you could ask them not to remind you to wash your hands.
• Breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. Or try some relaxation techniques.
• Set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds.
• Plan something to do after washing your hands. This could help distract you and change your focus.
• It could also help to read some of the tips on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
• If you experience panic attacks or have flashbacks, then try to plan a ‘Safe’ space at home that you can go to.
• Try some breathing exercises, or use a distracting technique, write a journal.
• Check in with yourself often and make sure you are sleeping and eating well.
If you are experiencing a panic attack, below are eight ways to deal with them:
• Know your triggers
• Leave the situation if you can – move to another room
• Use a grounding technique – look around to find:
5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste
• Use meditation and mindfulness techniques
• Visualize a safe place
• Count backwards from 100
• Let it happen, just ride it out
• Call a friend or a family member
If you feel that you are just not coping very well it is important that you speak to a health professional or contact your EAP. In addition, there is a free online therapy service, the Help Hub, that is providing 20 minute sessions to help people that are self-isolating, vulnerable older people or those that are struggling with COVID-19. This new service will commence 23/03/20.
Activities to support your mental wellbeing during self-isolation or working from home
• Try and engage in some type of physical exercise. For example, yoga or stretching, clean your home, dance to music, or do some online exercises. There are plenty on YouTube
• Do some cognitive exercises to help keep your mind stimulated.
• Read books and/or magazines that you have wanted to read for a while but didn’t have the time. You can also listen to podcasts and do puzzles.
• Take time to relax, engage in some breathing exercises or mindfulness meditations. Do some arts and crafts such as drawing or painting, play a musical instrument or keep a journal
• Stay connected with current news events but reduce the time you spend watching fearful images or listening to the news.
• Don’t listen to rumours, only search for reliable information on COVID-19
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