Let’s Talk About… Mental Health at Work
If we could name one thing that has been brought to our attention lately, it is the importance given to physical health as COVID-19 made itself known over the past couple of months. As the global pandemic continues to live amongst us, it is essential to not only adapt our lifestyles to try and limit the possibilities of catching the virus, but it is important, perhaps even more so, to safeguard our mental health to be able to better cope as the situation constantly changes.
This is because, amongst undesirable flu-like symptoms, COVID-19 also brought with it stress and anxiety to many, especially to those with pre-existing mental health conditions, resulting from anything from a change in social life to added stress following a loss of employment. What’s more, our mental health was put to the test when several of us began working from home, as many had to cope with a work-life balance as well as take care of children, or instead with living alone and experiencing complete isolation.
As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, which is seeing some of us return to work, we once again can find ourselves overcome with anxiety. After months of self-isolation except for being around family, being near people might be overwhelming in addition to having to wake up an hour earlier to commute.
Here are our top tips for taking care of your mental health, whether you are working from home or from the office:
1. Buddy Building
Wherever your workspace may be, working within a buddy system has been found to be a good way to maintain quality communication amongst each other, to ensure the communication of correct information, and to provide support to one another.
2. Spin me right round
If possible, rotate your functions from higher-stress tasks to lower-stress ones, so that your mind can take a break when focusing on the lesser intensity work, ensuring that you do not have a high-stress task overload.
3. Learn a new skill
With online training more accessible than ever, this is the right time to learn a new skill. As redundancies become more commonplace, having an added competence will not only make you more valuable to your workplace and may increase your chances of growth, but will provide you with the proficiency necessary should you need it for a new position.
4. Your workspace is key
Your workspace is the place you will be spending most of your day, so it is imperative that it is set up comfortably. If you are working from home, make sure that it is not in an area where you will get distracted easily, and do not underestimate the effect getting dressed will have on your morale. If you are working from the office, if possible, make sure that you are a comfortable distance from others, and always keep a door or a window slightly ajar for increased air circulation.
5. Involving those necessary
Organising meetings or group planning might get tricky if you are working from home. If you are back at the office, being in a large group for a singular project might cause anxiety to some who are trying to practice social distancing. With these projects, try to involve only those who are absolutely critical to the assignment.
6. Crowded commutes
Although it may not always be possible, changing the way you travel to work if you are going to the office can help lessen additional stress. Try to get to the office just that little bit earlier to avoid rush hour or crowds on public transport. You may even consider changing the way you commute and try out carpooling with people you will be around at the office.
If you feel your mental health has been seriously compromised, please seek the advice of a professional mental health specialist.