25 Mar 2020
Many Australians are working from home as we try to limit unnecessary travel and socialising in order to reduce the spread of COVID19. As circumstances are changing daily and we are unsure of the duration of home working, here are some tips to protect your mental wellbeing, whilst ensuring that you keep on top of your usual work.
Don’t lose your routine
It is very tempting to roll out of bed and jump online in your pyjamas, however these blurred lines between relaxation and work might not only make you unproductive, it might leave you feeling uninspired and lethargic. Allocate yourself specific work hours. These may be different to your usual hours due to other commitments, however it is essential you don’t work too much over them and burnout. Ensure that you take regular breaks where you get some fresh air or talk to someone about something unrelated to work.
Don’t put IT off
There's always that one task that you really don’t want to do and will spend the day procrastinating about. It could be making a really difficult call to a client or something uninteresting but essential. If you get your most dreaded or difficult task done first, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, get momentum for your other tasks and most importantly, won’t spend the rest of your day worrying about what you haven’t done yet.
Daily interactions are essential in ensuring that we feel part of a community and they reinforce our mental wellbeing. Whilst face to face social interaction is currently not an option, technology enables us to interact with our usual networks over video, whether professionally through Zoom or Microsoft Teams or socially through Skype or Facetime. Ensure that you have social contact throughout the day, through messages, phone calls or video.
Although group sports and gym activities are not an option, regular solo exercise like going for a jog, a walk or a bike ride will help you feel good about yourself (Just remember to maintain social distancing). As well as helping your body to stay healthy, you will also improve your emotional wellbeing. Physical activity is a proven way to reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing. If you are unable to leave your home, there are free exercise classes available online on sites such as YouTube that will keep you and your family active.
Start your work day with a brief meditation practice. There are free apps and videos on the internet that will help you. Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgement, allowing you to rest your mind and body. Being mindful may allow you to focus on and appreciate what you have instead of taking things for granted. The awareness and feeling of gratitude may help you feel renewed.
Without being mindful, you may simply react to negative thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness may help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and manage them in a positive way. Taking control of your thoughts and feelings can help reduce stress and anxiety.
3 tips on being mindful
Many individuals and organisations now offer mindfulness training. However, you can start putting mindfulness into practice with a few simple exercises.
- One-minute breathing exercise Sit with your back straight but relaxed. For the next minute, focus your entire attention on your breathing in and out, how air passes in and out of your nostrils, and how your abdomen rises and goes down with each breath. If thoughts start crowding in, gently let them go and refocus on your breathing.
- Check in with yourself Bring yourself into the present moment by asking yourself, ‘What is going on with me at the moment?’ You can label your thoughts and feelings — for example, ‘that’s an anxious feeling’ — and let them go. You may start to feel more of an observer instead of someone reacting to thoughts and feelings.
- Eat mindfully When you’re having a meal, focus on your eating. Don’t read or watch TV at the same time. Pay attention to how the food looks, smells and tastes. You may find you enjoy your food more, and stop eating when you’re full instead of automatically finishing what’s on your plate. Source: healthdirect
Avoid surfing the net
This would be useful advice in usual circumstances for those working from home, however with talk of the Coronavirus dominating every news and social media source, it is even more essential. Not only will use of the internet be distracting for work purposes, its current content will encourage anxious thoughts and will ultimately be mentally unhealthy.
When you do need to take time to catch up with the news on the virus and restrictions in your community, use a good source of information - The Department of Health website and Healthy WA have up to date information for you. There is information circulating in the social media claiming to be from the UK NHS or other health sources that contain what looks like good information but actually contains harmful advice.
Please remember that working from home is only a temporary solution and is essential for our community to be healthy and get back to normal quickly.
If at times you feel overwhelmed or isolated, there is always someone there for you to talk to on Lifeline’s 13 11 14.
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