In recent years there have been increasing calls for greater flexibility in the way that we work, from part-time hours to working from home. But the emergence of Covid-19 has accelerated the change, and for many, has created a new environment of uncertainty, and new challenges to navigate.
For those people who are working from home, the novelty may by now be wearing off. You might find that you’re slipping out of your usual routine and falling into unhealthy habits. As time goes on, it could begin to impact your mental health and overall well-being.
We spoke to one of our clinicians, Paige Fujiu-Baird, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, about some strategies to help boost your mental health during these difficult times. Here are her top 10 recommendations:
Create a new daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. If you’re working from home, set boundaries with your colleagues about the hours you will be available. And don’t forget to take breaks from your computer and emails
Be mindful as you transition from one activity to the next. Get up, showered and dressed as if you were going to work, even though your commute to the next room is much shorter than usual. Let fresh air and sunlight into your home and make sure you take regular breaks
Limit your news intake. Excessive reading or watching of the news can heighten feelings of anxiety. Try to be disciplined, checking only a couple of times a day and ensuring you use reputable sources. This also means limiting your exposure to social media. Try to avoid mindless scrolling as this has been found to be detrimental to mental health – both for adults and adolescents and children
Keep active. Move, stretch, and exercise. There are many different online options, and now is the time to try and explore new forms of movement, as exercise is proven to have long-term benefits for mental health
Practice self-care. Enjoy a bath, light a candle, spend some time being mindful, take a walk – of course following all social distancing advice. It’s so important to plan in time each day to focus on yourself
Stay in touch. Everyone will have different ideas with regards how much social interaction they feel they need. Find the balance that’s right for you and communicate that to friends, family and colleagues so that you’re getting what you need, while avoiding feeling overwhelmed
Choose compassion and lower your expectations. Some of you are taking on several roles: parent, friend, flatmate, co-worker, spouse, caregiver, teacher, and all at the same time. Be mindful of the expectations you set for yourself and others, and just try to do the best you can – that’s enough
Try to maintain a normal sleep pattern. If you can, avoid napping during the day and keep away from caffeinated drinks and sugar a number of hours before bedtime. Many people are reporting having vivid dreams more frequently than usual. If this sounds familiar, keep a notebook by your bed to write down thoughts or anxieties to stop them from racing in your head and disrupting your sleep
Practice gratitude. Take some time each day to find gratitude or a positive outlook on your situation. Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It can help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships
Spend at least an hour winding down from your day without the television or your phone. Unwind with a warm bath, reading a book, or you can try some simple relaxation strategies. If you are tempted to check the internet, turn off your router or leave your phone in another room
Hopefully, you’re staying intentional and hopeful. However, if you’re struggling, remember that you’re not alone. Talk to a trusted family member or friend or look up online resources and websites to support your mental health. For young people, KOOTH and Childline offer online forums to talk things through. For adults, Heads Together and The Help Hub offer free online advice and supportive text sources.
Clinical Partners provides exceptional mental healthcare to thousands of people throughout the UK every week. We are now 100% video-enabled, so help is available to anyone who needs it during this period of COVID-19. Explore our adult health hub for more information.