Staying Sane in Isolation
It’s fair to say that we have never experienced a time like this, and are all trying to find our own ways of how to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are lots of messages, advice, opinions and predictions around. Some of it’s pretty drastic, and some of it is contrasting with other news sources. The uncertainty, in itself, can feel very stressful and it’s important to keep talking about the impact the current situation will be having on everyone’s mental health, whether they recognise it or not.
- A pandemic isn’t just a physical health issue; it’s a mental health issue as well.
- The majority of the PG team have been working remotely from home for a couple of weeks. Although we had contingency plans in place and had conducted stress tests to ensure our technology worked as required, it has still been a drastic change in our working routines. Some of the team are home alone, others are with family (and maybe fighting over desk space, noise levels etc), with children requiring support to complete home schooling, or with elderly parents or family members to care for. Like the rest of the world it seems, there are services we regularly rely on, which are no longer operating and we have to make our own arrangements.
- We will all have unique challenges and whilst we’re all trying hard to successfully manage and juggle our our own lives, we are trying to also check in with each other – and look out for signs that they may need some support or aren’t coping well.
- In a recent study conducted by People Management magazine and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it was found that 67% of respondents cited supporting people’s mental health and well being as their organisation’s main challenge currently.
- The CIPD states that “the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing have left many employees feeling isolated, fearful for their physical health and concerned about job security or loss of income. This was likely to compound existing stressors people were experiencing as part of their working lives.”
- To better support staff during and after the crisis, the CIPD recommended employers encourage staff to practice self-care such as developing a healthy routine for diet, sleep and relaxation outside of work.
- If you are staying at home more than you usually would, it might feel more difficult than usual to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.
As PG Paper’s HR Manager, here is the advice I shared with the team as well all embarked upon working from home during lockdown:
- Eat well and stay hydrated
- Ensure you have required stock of medication and are requesting repeat prescriptions as you need them
- The big-ticket item – handwashing – properly and for at least 20 seconds
- Disinfecting “touch points” – door handles, light switches, phones, tablet, remote controls etc.
- Take care of your immediate environment – if you keep your home or room clean and tidy it will make it easier to disinfect the important “touch points”
- Find a home-working space and routine that works for you and your employer
- If you are also caring for young children or home-schooling, speak to HR about juggling both. You may be able to reduce your hours or use holidays to help you manage better.
- Listening to the radio or a podcast can make you feel better if your home feels too quiet
- Be mindful of which news sources you are using, both to avoid “fake news” and perhaps to avoid anything negative if you feel it is having an effect on you and avoiding it might help you not to worry.
- Don’t keep re-reading the same advice if it’s unhelpful for you
- Let other people know you’re struggling and how they can help
- Explore self-care methods – guided meditation, breathing exercise, journaling, yoga/similar, or simply taking some time away to yourself to read or have a bath
- Stay connected, digitally and on the phone if you can
- Get as much sunlight and fresh air as possible, even just make an effort to go out the front door to say hello to neighbours (from the required 2m distance!).
I’ve shared some below to a few sites which can provide further advice, information and resources which may help you cope with the current crisis and the uncertainty.
We will come through this and life will eventually return to ‘normal’; however whilst we navigate in these uncharted waters, we need to create a ‘temporary norm’ around routines, habits and self-care that provide a structure for the weeks and months ahead.