As a company, the concept of remote working was not new to us when the pandemic began. Having had a remote-first policy in place for some time, we had a unique insight into the benefits and pitfalls that come hand in hand with working from home.
With the British government announcing the critical dates in their roadmap for lifting lockdown, one of the issues frequently referenced in parliament was the concern over mental health.
Whilst there is “Light at the end of the tunnel” as Boris said, there is still a way to go until we are free to return to life as it was. With this in mind we wanted to reach out and highlight how to recognise mental health issues, and suggest some ways to alleviate the symptoms.
What is mental health?
Mental health consists of our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, how we feel, and how we act. It helps to determine how we cope with and manage stress, how we communicate with others, and it affects the choices we make. Mental health is important throughout your whole life, from the time you are a child into your adulthood and onwards.
Uncertain if you are living with mental health problems?
Experiencing one or more of these feelings or behaviours can be a sign:
• Eating or sleeping too much or too little
• Pulling away from people or activities
• Having little or no energy
• Unusual feelings of confusion, anger, being on edge, upset and worried
• Inability to perform daily tasks
Ways to increase your mental health
• Stay positive
• Be physically active; exercise with a partner, family or friends
• Help others
• Get enough sleep
• Develop coping skills
• Connect with others; stand outside and communicate with neighbours, go for walks in the park to experience some interaction, and connect with people by using technology
One of the biggest causes of mental health problems is the lack of opportunity to connect with people – which the Covid-19 pandemic and enforced home working have made a major issue.
Fortunately connection is possible remotely through media such as video chats. “Virtual Coffee” is a video chat that doesn’t have to be formal. Author Kevin Eikenberry states: “The longer that we work remotely alone, the more we see our work as insular and separate. It’s important to connect with others we work with to feel connected to a greater team effort.” Use Virtual Coffee to get to know each other, or even to just catch up. This will significantly reduce the feeling of being alone, which will in turn improve your mental health.
Other ways include:
• Picking up the phone to call family and friends
• Using technology to connect with family and friends via messaging, social media etc.
• Inviting people to join interactive online groups such as book clubs, or to watch livestreams of interest, including live chats. This is a great way to connect with new people with similar interests.
Social connections are important in everyone’s development and personal growth, which leads back to better mental health. Prioritising human interactions and finding meaningful ways to connect during this time of physical distancing and social isolation can help us support one another, and benefit our own health and wellbeing.