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Improving your well-being while working from home during COVID-19

Our 8 top tips to help you effectively manage your well-being during COVID-19.

April 17, 2020

A woman sits with her laptop on a white couch by a bright window to manage wellbeing during COVID-19

Mental well-being is key to our overall happiness and supports us as we strive to be the best version of ourselves. Staying on top of our mental health can be challenging at the best of times with demands of work, modern life and 24/7 connection with technology. In the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, it’s important that we find ways to keep our headspace in check.

Whether you are a parent juggling home-schooling or simply adjusting to working from home and missing the social interaction of the office, these new conditions may challenge us all physically, emotionally and mentally at some point. Here are some ideas of things you might like to try to manage your well-being now and in the future.

1. Make exercise your friend

Not only is physical exercise an effective way to burn fat and develop your cardio-vascular capacity, but it is widely reported to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and boost mood as well as overall well-being. While gyms are closed and current government restrictions limit outdoor exercise to once per day, there are still plenty opportunities to keep moving:

  • If your circumstances allow, why not get those steps up by walking to the shop for your groceries instead of taking your car?
  • Create a home gym in your garden or garage using weighted items from around the house
  • Try an online workout. Many personal trainers and fitness coaches are offering (free) online training sessions that can be streamed anywhere, anytime from a phone, laptop or tablet

Do whatever works best for you, but if you can, try to find 20-30 mins each day where you are active and moving—even to do some simple stretching—especially if your job involves sitting at a desk.

2. Limit your social media and news consumption

Chris Underhill, a leading champion on mental health, advises people to limit their news consumption as too much news consumption can exacerbate anxiety. While it is important to keep updated with news and latest updates on COVID-19 in your country, consuming too much media may be overwhelming and unhelpful to our mental health. Unofficial channels may contradict or misreport key messages, and overly consuming bad news can negatively impact your mood and cause unnecessary worry. To combat this, pick one reliable source of news to follow and keep yourself updated.

Social media is a great way to keep much needed connection with friends and family during this time, but controlling what we see on these channels can be tricky. Try putting your phone out of reach during key hours of the day, turning off social media and putting your phone away again a couple of hours before you plan to go to sleep. Putting a couple of hours between phone usage and bedtime helps your brain ‘switch off’ and gives you the best chance of a quality sleep.

3. Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated

Throughout our lives, we are taught about the importance of a balanced diet. But at times of high stress, worry or anxiety it can be comforting to consume foods and drinks that are not necessarily great for our health. To maintain some balance during this time, try focusing on drinking lots of water and limiting consumption of highly caffeinated, sugary, and fatty foods over the week. Then, use the weekend as a time to treat yourself with some of your favourite foods and drinks.

4. Try meditation

Meditation or focussed breathing exercises can be a great way to alleviate stress and relax our minds. There are many simple (and free) exercises to practice on apps such as Headspace, and they can be done individually or in virtual groups. Morgan Dix from Do You Yoga suggests just 5-10 minutes per day regularly can really support our mental health.

5. Maintain a work-life balance

Allowing your brain to switch off from work, rest and recharge is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and headspace. Before you start your day, plan out a structure and use your calendar to manage your work. Agree on a time with your manager when you will log off and stick to this time. Turning off your laptop and other technology and switching to something totally different—for example, cooking, exercise or reading—can help signal to your brain that work is over and give it a rest from being switched on to work. Having a healthy work-life balance is important at the best of times, but even more so when working from home.

6. Be creative with social connection

While it is challenging to meet face-to-face during lockdown, it is still important to connect with friends, family and colleagues and find new ways to do so. As humans, we are inherently social creatures, and there are many well-reported benefits of social interaction. According to Mindwise, connecting with other people can boost mental health and provide increased feelings of belonging, purpose, happiness, reduced stress levels and improved self-confidence. Whether it’s a message on Whatsapp, a card in the post or a coffee meet up over video call, stay well-connected to your close network.

7. Create a gratitude journal

While we can’t overly control what goes on in the world around us, we can change how we feel about it. Identifying and even writing daily reminders to ourselves about what we are grateful or thankful for can reinforce positivity and help our minds declutter. Try keeping a daily journal of gratitude to focus your mind on positive thoughts and read these messages back if you find yourself feeling down or anxious.

8. Be kind to yourself and don’t expect perfection

As you are faced with challenges to work though over the coming months, remember to be kind to yourself in the process. We are all only human, and most of what we are going through is new and challenging for many different reasons. We might feel like we are on our own, but it is important to remember that we are not. If we can stay connected, try to stay healthy and take some of the pressure off ourselves mentally by following just some of the tips in this article, then we are positioning ourselves well. Maybe, we might even find some enjoyment as we continue an otherwise challenging and unprecedented journey.

These are our top eight tips to keep you feeling great during COVID-19. Why not try a few of these out and see how you get on?